Be an Askable Adult

Talking with young people

Having a trusted adult is very important for young people. It can be hard to know how to start a conversation about sex and relationships and know what to say, but it’s possible. 

Just keep it simple!

  • A good starting point is to think about what your own experience was. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no information or information that made you feel bad and 10 being feeling totally prepared for sex, what was your experience? How do you want it to be different for the young person in your life? 
  • While we might hear that there is “the talk”, the fact is that the more often conversations about sexual and reproductive health and relationships happen, the better it is for young people to learn and trust you.

Guidelines for those conversations

  • Reassure them that you are here for them and open to talking about any topic.
  • Be non-judgmental and model open, honest communication.
  • Know your values and be honest.
  • Be an active listener.
  • Keep answers fact-based, short, and simple.
  • It is okay if you don't know an answer, you can find it together.
  • Use age-appropriate language — this will help them when talking with medical providers.
  • Use "teachable moments" from TV, radio, or your everyday life.
  • Model healthy relationships for yourself, and use your own experience to teach.
  • Don’t assume because they are asking about sex that it means that they are having sex.
  • Be open to the fact that they might be more comfortable talking with someone else.

FAQs based on age

The questions below are commonly asked in the age range, but they could come sooner or later depending on the child. Some questions require parents to think about what values they want to share, while other questions are just about facts. Look through the questions and think about how you might respond to them. Practicing ahead of time doesn’t mean you’ll respond perfectly but it helps. Preschool-age
  • Why do I have to keep my clothes on?
  • Where do babies come from?
  • How did I get in your tummy?
  • Why does mommy have breasts? How does milk get in breasts?
  • What’s this? (pointing at part of the body)
  • When can I have a baby?
  • Do you have a penis/vagina?
Elementary school age
  • What does gay mean?
  • Can I marry my friend?
  • How do people do sex?
  • How do twins get made?
  • What is sex?
  • Does everyone get periods?
  • Why does it feel good to touch my penis?
  • How do you know if you’re in love?
Middle and high school age
  • Can you get pregnant standing up?
  • The first time you have sex?
  • What is birth control?
  • How old do you have to be to have sex?
  • How do girls orgasm?
  • How do I know if I’m gay?
  • Is it normal to masturbate?
  • How do you let someone know you like them?
  • How do you break up with someone?
  • What’s anal?
  • What does rape mean?
  • Will anyone ever want to date me?

Teens and abusive relationships

Is your teen being abused?

When someone is a victim of violence they might brush off, excuse, or even attempt to laugh about troubling or violent behavior from their partner. Remember that they are feeling vulnerable and need your support. Believe what they tell you and don’t get mad or angry with them for what they are telling you. They need to know they can trust you and if you overreact or blame them, they will lose trust in you and may stop confiding in you.

Signs of an abusive relationship​

  • They are depressed or anxious.
  • They have unexplained bruises or marks.
  • They stop participating in activities they used to enjoy.
  • They start to dress differently or dress out of character.
  • Their partner is extremely jealous, possessive or controlling to the point that they stop spending time with family and friends.
  • They are concerned about what might happen if they do not call their partner back.
  • They are worried about how their partner might react in certain situations.

Tips to start the conversation

  • Remind them what healthy behavior in a relationship is.
  • Make sure you know who they are dating.
  • Help them recognize red flags for abuse.
  • Pick the right time to talk — it is often best to start casually.
  • Relate the topic to their everyday lives, ask about their friends or TV couples.
  • Point out to them when abusive behavior is modeled on TV or with friends/family.
  • Encourage them to talk to you when they feel unsafe.
  • Don’t make them break off unhealthy relationships, this will be their choice in the end.

Go Ask Tara

Go Ask Tara is on a mission to provide sex education and help the youth of Colorado prevent pregnancy and STIs.