Oh Thank Goodness, “The Talk” Is Getting Less Awkward For Both Parents And Children

I was glad that my mom and I had exactly the same feelings on having “The Talk”: neither of us wanted to do it, and we were glad that it was over so quickly. I was 11-ish or 12-ish, and my mom casually asked, “We haven’t had The Talk yet, have we?” And I said, “I don’t need to, I know how it works. It’s on TV and in movies.” So she said, “OK, how does it work?” I made my left thumb and forefinger into a circle and jabbed my right index finger into the middle once or twice. My sister Sara laughed.

“That’s not really all we’re supposed to talk about,” my mom said.

“Well, we have sex ed in school this year and I already saw Sara’s books from when she was in sex ed, so I think I’m fine.” My mom took the hint that the very last thing in the world that I wanted to do was talk with her about sex, and she let it drop. “If you have any questions,” she said, “let me know.” And that was the end of it, until my parents found my condoms in my room in high school and forced my then-not-exactly-boyfriend and I to have a very, very awkward, serious-faced sit-down with them, then forced me to go on birth control.

In other words, if TIME is right and it’s less embarrassing for parents and kids to have The Talk now, thank god. A study from Planned Parenthood and NYU shows that 80 percent of parents and children have The Talk before the child is 13, many of them find it less embarrassing than it used to be, and that parents both don’t talk to their children about sex very frequently and don’t exactly know how to talk about sex with their children in a changing technological landscape.

Planned Parenthood has tried to make an app for initiating a conversation with your parents about sex — which seems awkward in and of itself, but the strategy is to use the media and technology that teens actually engage with in order to create dialogue. They’re encouraging parents to use TV shows as conversation-starters and trying to make sure that parents are the people guiding their kids’ education about sex, since many sex ed programs in schools are completely inadequate and will not prepare kids for the realities of sex.

Fingers crossed, by the time I have a child who’s of an age to have The Talk, I will manage to get through it without having some kind of allergic reaction to awkward.


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