shutterstock_108670208Parents: Teens want to be able to ask their parents about sex, but it’s uncomfortable and parents don’t always know how to talk to their kids about it or handle the fact that their children are sexually active.

A recent national poll found that while 82 percent of parents reported talking to their children about topics related to sex and sexuality, when questions about specific topics were asked, the percentages were much less. A smaller proportion felt comfortable talking about more complex topics such as how to say no to sex (74 percent) and whether or not to use a condom or other forms of birth control (60 percent).

Follow these tips to improve communication with your teens:

  • Choose a time and place to talk
  • Look for teachable moments
  • What strategies have worked for you? Personal experiences? What do the experts say?
  • Be an askable parent — approachable and open to questions
  • Listen, relax and show interest
  • Encourage your teen to ask questions
  • But also remember that you don’t need to wait until they ask a question to talk to them
  • Know what your teen can understand at different ages
  • Verbally tell your teen that you are there for him/her