Establish Yourself as a Trusted Adult


Establish Yourself as a Trusted Adult

August 16, 2023
A mom and her son sit on the edge of the bed and talk.

Parents and other champions are the #1 resource young people look to for information on topics like sex, love, and relationships. Even armed with this knowledge, we know that it can still be challenging to find the “right moment” to bring up what too many find to be uncomfortable subjects. 

The good news is that the back-to-school season can serve as an opportunity to broach new subjects with the young folks in your life and establish yourself as a trusted adult for their ongoing journeys.

Here are a few tips for topics to cover with different age groups:

Elementary School 

Nope, this age group is not too young to be on this list! Children who are going to school for the first time can benefit from foundational conversations about boundaries, consent, and their bodies. Young people need to have the right tools and the correct language to identify what is happening to them when they are away from their champions. If you haven’t already, you should also start to introduce inclusive language and diverse media to signal to them that they are in a nonjudgmental zone. 

Middle School

As middle schoolers, young people are at an age where they will begin to explore their bodies and their identities in new ways. Even though their sexual debut may be years off, now is the time to begin conversations about their changing anatomy and even safe sex. This age also presents a good time to establish that your young person can always come to you for open conversations and that you will actively listen to them. Proactively let them know that you will always accept and respect their sexual orientation, gender, pronouns, and/or preferred name, with the full knowledge that it might be an ongoing process. 

High School

High school is where you can expect your teen to continue exploring their own bodies and get more serious about their relationships, which can become more intimate at this age. Go over birth control options (we suggest Bedsider’s user-friendly guide) and be open to helping your young person choose a method that works for them. Make sure they also understand what a healthy relationship looks like – physically and emotionally. Even if it wouldn’t be your choice for them to have sex in high school, the reality is that you want to make sure they have everything they need to be safe if it does happen. And remember, birth control isn’t just for safer sex – it can also help young people manage their period flow, control acne, and ease cramps. Whether or not they’re interested in dating, high school is a time to let your young people know that there is no question that they should shy away from asking you. 


The transition from high school to school can feel like an introduction to real life for a lot of young people. But the fact is that many will have received insufficient sex education in school. Before they are in a more independent environment, it’s a good idea to go over what they learned and help fill in any gaps. Don’t worry about having all the answers – you can always do research together. Also, while you are helping them get ready for their dorm, don’t forget to get a full stock of sexual health essentials – such as menstrual health products, condoms, and emergency contraception. You should also make sure that they have a plan for their birth control and STI prevention as well as ensure that they know where their student health center is and what services are offered. Send them off with the knowledge that if they ever need support in their relationships or have trouble accessing birth control or abortion care, you will be there to help them navigate it.