#TalkingIsPower: 2019 Champion Guide
Champions play an important role in helping to ensure that all young people have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child. According to young people, champions—not pop culture—most influence their decisions about sex, love, and relationships. Don’t let the pressure get to you though! Check out our five tips to guide you through a thoughtful and (hopefully) slightly less awkward conversation about sex with the young people in your life.
Talk early. Talk often. And be specific.
Age-appropriate conversations about relationships and intimacy should begin early on in a young person’s life and continue through adolescence. Start the conversation and make sure that it is honest, open, and respectful. You don’t have to be a biology teacher; just be real. Candidly and confidently share what you believe about love and sex and why you believe it. Let them ask questions, and if you’re not sure about something, it’s okay to say: “Actually I don’t know!”
If you’re struggling to start the discussion, consider using our #TalkingIsPower conversation prompts.
Cultivate a culture of openness.
It’s important to be an “ask-able” champion who allows the young person in your life to share their feelings without fear of shame or condemnation. Conversations about love and sex should include asking your young person what they think, what they know, and what other topics they’re curious about. Ask what, if anything, worries them.
Make sure to listen as much as – or more than – you talk. Your words and experiences are important, but equally important is making sure that you hear and honor your young person’s voice.
Here are a few questions your young person may be curious about. Spark a conversation and ease the tension around taboo topics like sex and relationships.
- When is the right time to start dating?
- How do I know if I’m in love?
- How will I know when I’m ready to have sex?
- Will having sex make me more mature?
- How do I manage pressure from my peers about having sex?
- How does contraception work? Are some methods better than others? Are they safe?
Build a trusting relationship with the young person in your life.
Providing a supportive and nurturing environment for your young person leads to a warm and communication-rich relationship. This, in return, will help them form the foundation on which to build their future relationships. Research shows that talking with young people about sex does not encourage them to become sexually active. Just because they ask about sex, contraception, or dating don’t assume that your young person is sexually active or in a relationship. Talk to your young person with an open mind.
Help your young person plan for the future they envision for themselves.
Young people make more practical decisions, such as delaying sexual activity, when they understand that they have a bright future ahead of them. Help the young person in your life set meaningful goals for the future. Talk to them about what it takes to make plans happen and to reach their goals. Explain how an unplanned pregnancy can interrupt the best plans; for example, child care expenses may make it almost impossible to afford college. Encourage after school activities, community service, and the exploration of new interests and hobbies. They can learn job skills while also getting in touch with a wide variety of adults (future champions!) who care and are also committed to helping them achieve their goals.
Don’t give up.
Even if the young person in your life doesn’t want to talk with you or appears uninterested in (or horrified by) these conversations, it’s your job as their champion to keep talking. Trust us—it makes a difference!
Why have the talk now? Throughout the month of May, as part of the #TalkingIsPower movement, we’re asking young people and the champions who care about them to initiate meaningful conversations surrounding sex, love, relationships, and contraception.
We want to help you embrace your inner champion. We have a variety of materials to help jumpstart conversations, including videos and conversation prompts. Our young people are listening. Start early. Talk often. You’re more powerful than you think.
PS You can ensure that young people get unbiased, fact-based information about sex, love, relationships and birth control by donating to Power to Decide today.