I believe that the key to discussing any topic with a teenager is honesty and being open to listening. This is not something that you can start doing when they become teenagers. I started telling my children they could talk to me about anything when they were very young, and continued to tell them throughout their entire childhood.
Talk About Sex
Telling them is not enough though; you have to show them that you are willing to listen and not over react. Establishing an open line of communication allowed me to be able to talk to my children about the tough subjects. My son is now 16 years old, but when he was 14 I had “the talk” with him. I had it in the car while we were driving somewhere so he could not get out of the conversation. I explained that I wasn’t telling him he could go have sex yet, but I wanted him to be prepared when the time came. He was very embarrassed that mom was talking to him about sex, but he listened and reassured me that he had not had sex yet. I continued to explain how important using a condom was. I explained that it not only lowers the risk of pregnancy, but also STDs.
Talk About Drugs & Alcohol
Having the sex talk with him has helped in opening doors to other hard topics such as drugs and alcohol. We have discussed all types of drugs and what they do to a person, and what alcohol does to a person. My best piece of advice on these particular topics is don’t be a hypocrite. Be honest with them on whether you have tried drugs or not and what affect they had on you. Reassure them that you know they might try drinking or some kind of drug. Explain that you hope they don’t because of the harmful effects drugs and alcohol can have, but also let them know that if they do they are not to drive. If they have had anything that impairs their judgment they can call you for a ride. Don’t condone the use of any of these, but don’t be blind to the fact they might experiment. I have found that discussing these topics have enabled my son to confide in me his thoughts on the subjects and whether he has tried anything or not. He does not tell me everything, but I feel by having an honest and open line of communication has allowed him to be comfortable enough to tell me what he has tried.