Responsibilities and consequences

Talk to your child about the emotional and physical consequences of becoming sexually active, such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and a range of feelings. Discussing these issues now can help your child avoid feeling pressured to become sexually active before he or she is ready. While you're telling your child about the dangers of sex, don't be afraid to mention the joys, too. Let your child know that sex can be beautiful in a loving, committed relationship.

Everyday moments are key

Use everyday opportunities to discuss sex. Teachable moments are everywhere. If there's a pregnancy in the family, talk about how a baby develops inside a woman's body. If you see a commercial for a feminine hygiene product, use it as a springboard to talk about periods. If a couple on a TV show begin dating, talk about relationships and falling in love.

Take your role in sex education seriously. Encourage your child to take care of his or her body, develop a healthy sense of self-respect, and seek information from trusted sources. Your thoughtful approach to sex education can help your child develop a lifetime of healthy sexuality.

Apr. 30, 2011 See more In-depth