Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Parents of Teens

Will talking to my teen about sex put the idea into their head?
Studies have found that adolescents whose parents communicate with them about sexuality are more likely to delay intercourse and, if they have intercourse, to use contraception and have fewer partners.

Do I have to have “THE SEX TALK” more than once?
Parents should have open and honest discussions about sexuality, healthy relationships, and intercourse with their children early and often.  This repeated sexual communication will reinforce and build on what they have taught their children.  Children will also have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions as they encounter real-life situations.

Will my teen even listen to me?
Many studies have shown that the parent’s beliefs and opinions have the most influence on a teen’s decisions about dating and relationships, even more than their friends and the media.  Talk to them, they’re listening (even if it doesn’t feel like it).

What if my teen says he or she is “in love”?
Responding with “You can’t be in love!” can shut down communication.  The feelings your teen has are real to them.  Your responsibility is to help them understand what they’re feeling and discuss with them what you feel is an appropriate and healthy relationship for their age.

What if my teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend is older?
Teens are more likely to become sexually active if their significant other is even two years older.  Discourage relationships with older partners.  In these critical teen years, 2-3 years involves significant emotional maturity and the older partners can pressure younger teens into decisions they are not emotionally ready to make.

What do I do if my teen tells me she is pregnant?
Stay calm.  Talk to your daughter and make sure she is o.k.  Realize that she may be just as or more upset than you.  When she is ready, start discussing the next steps.  For help and information you can go to your health care
provider or be seen at:
Montgomery Co. Dept. of Health & Human Services

Germantown Office
12900 Middlebrook Road
Germantown, MD 20874
240-777-3380

Silver Spring Office
8630 Fenton St, 10th Floor
Silver Spring, MD 20910
240-777-3160

TAYA Teen and Young Adults Health Connection

1400 Spring St., Suite 200
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-565-0914

602 E. Diamond Avenue
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-565-0914

Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington

Gaithersburg
19650 Club House Road, Suite 104
Gaithersburg, MD 20886
301-208-1300

Silver Spring
1400 Spring St., Suite 450
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301-608-3448

Planned Parenthood of Maryland

Frederick
1560 Opossumtown Pike, #18
Frederick, MD 21702
301-662-7171

Rockville Pregnancy Center (pro-life organization)

12730 Twinbrook Parkway
Rockville, MD 20852
301-770-4444

Shady Grove Pregnancy Center (pro-life organization)

16220 S. Frederick Road, Suite 118
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
301-963-6223

I think my son/daughter may be depressed.  Should I worry about suicide?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says:  If your teen-ager has been depressed, you should look closely for signs that he or she might be thinking of suicide:
  • Has his personality changed dramatically?
  • Is he having trouble with a girlfriend (or, for girls, with a boyfriend)?  Or is he having trouble getting along with other friends or with parents?  Has he withdrawn from people he used to feel close to?
  • Is the quality of his schoolwork going down?  Has he failed to live up to his own or someone else’s standards (when it comes to school grades, for example)?
  • Does he always seem bored, and is he having trouble concentrating?
  • Is he acting like rebellious in an unexplained and severe way?
  • Is she pregnant and finding it hard to cope with this major life change?
  • Has he run away from home?
  • Is your teenager abusing drugs and/or alcohol?
  • Is she complaining of headaches, stomachaches, etc., that may or may not be real?
  • Have his eating or sleeping habits changed?
  • Has his or her appearance changed for the worse?
  • Is he giving away some of his most prized possessions?
  • Is he writing notes or poems about death?
  • Does he talk about suicide, even jokingly?  Has he said things such as, “That’s the last straw,” “I can’t take it anymore,” or “Nobody cares about me?”  (Threatening to kill oneself precedes four out of five suicidal deaths.)
  • Has he tried to commit suicide before?
If you suspect that your teen-ager might be thinking about suicide, do not remain silent.  Suicide is preventable, but you must act quickly.
  • Ask your teen-ager about it.  Don’t be afraid to say the word “suicide.”  Getting the word out in the open may help your teen-ager think someone has heard his cries for help.
  • Reassure him that you love him.  Remind him that no matter how awful his problems seem, they can be worked out, and you are willing to help.
  • Ask her to talk about her feelings.  Listen carefully.  Do not dismiss her problems or get angry at her.
  • Remove all lethal weapons from your home, including guns, pills, kitchen utensils and ropes.
  • Seek professional help.  Ask your teen-ager’s pediatrician to guide you.  A variety of outpatient and hospital-based treatment programs are available.

Resources:
  • Park, Alice  (December 7, 2009).  “Parents’ Sex Talk with Kids: Too Little, Too Late.”  Time.
    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1945759,00.html
  • Martino S.C., Elliott M.N., Corona R., Kanouse D.E., Schuster M.A.  “Beyond the ‘big talk’: the roles of breadth and repetition in parent-adolescent communication about sexual topics”. Pediatrics 121(3), e612-8.
  • http://www.nami.org  NAMI offers resources and help for those with a mental illness.
  • http://www.save.org  SAVE offers information on suicide prevention.  Call: 800-SUICIDE
  • http://www.afsp.org  This group is dedicated to advancing the knowledge of suicide and the ability to prevent it.
  • http://www.aacap.org  AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development issues.
  • http://www.apa.org  The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.
  • http://www.teenhelp.com   A website for all teens, parents, and professionals that includes information on parenting teenagers, troubled teens, teen issues, treatment programs, and other related topics.