For parents

Talking about sex and relationships

It can be hard to think of your child growing up and getting to the point in their lives when they are thinking about having sex or are sexually active.

You might not feel they’re ready, or you don’t want them to ‘grow up too quickly’. You’re not alone and most parents feel this way.

When your child starts puberty can be a good time to start openly discussing relationships and attraction to others.

Why should you speak to your children about relationships and sex?

  • They could look online and accidentally access pornography.
  • Stop sex being a taboo subject.
  • Parental support when making choices.
  • Increase self-esteem.
  • Reduce unplanned pregnancy and poor sexual health.
  • Improve their relationships to make them more healthy.
  • Bust myths.
  • Raise the age of young people first try sexual activity.
  • Help safeguard them as they begin to explore sex and relationships.

When the time is right to speak to your child about sex it’s important to stay calm and have an open discussion with them. It might feel awkward but you will both be feeling the same.

If you’re able to have an open and honest talk, they’re more likely to come and speak to you in the future.

Top tips

  • Be prepared – As your child gets older do some research and up-to-date information. This site is full of information about sexual health and relationships.
  • Stay calm – Remember that you were once in their place. Think back to how you felt when you were their age and how you would’ve liked to have been spoken to.
  • Don’t criticise – Feeling judged can stop them from speaking to you in the future.
  • Don’t get angry – They might not want to speak to you if they feel embarrassed or awkward. You could suggest an alternative trusted person that they could speak to if they wanted.
  • Give them space – Let them know that you’re there for them if they want to talk. Maybe mention that you have been in their shoes once.


Young people have the right to a confidential service without parents/carers being informed. The professionals are trained in supporting young people and they will encourage them to speak to you.

All young people 13+ are assessed in accordance with the law. If they understand the information they are being given and it is in their best interest, then information, advice and contraception (if relevant) will be given.