Many parents are more worried about their daughters, sexually speaking, than their sons. After all, boys don’t get pregnant! But boys are constantly inundated with damaging misinformation from their friends and the media, so it’s important to talk to them early to correct those mixed messages.
Sex is a big deal for guys, too.
Many boys feel just as confused about sex as girls do, but it’s not as culturally acceptable for them to admit it. We teach girls that they should wait for the right person, and that the first time should be “special,” so why not share the same sentiment with your son? Let him know he should think it through before he gets involved in a sexual relationship and ask himself if he feels comfortable and ready.
Having sex doesn’t make you a man.
Challenge the perception that having sex is something to mark off the checklist on the way to manhood. Boys receive lots of cultural messages that imply that their only job is to try to “get some.” Teach him not to view sex as a game or conquest, but as a part of a mature and healthy relationship.
Protection isn’t just a woman’s responsibility.
Your son needs to know that wearing a condom is one of the few ways he can contribute to protecting his partner from unwanted pregnancy and STIs.
Birth control is worth it.
Over half of teens surveyed think that it doesn’t matter if you use birth control or not. Teens thinking “it’s not worth the trouble” to wear a condom need to know that condoms and other birth control methods are effective tools against unwanted pregnancy.
Even if you think your partner is a virgin, use a condom.
Virginity is a tricky concept. Many people feel they are “virgins” even if they’ve had oral or anal sex, both of which can transmit STIs. Not to mention that some STIs, like herpes and HPV, are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. The safest bet is always to wear a condom, which has the added bonus of preventing pregnancy.
A woman never owes you sex.
Part of being a respectful partner is understanding that just because a girl went out with you, or started hooking up with you, or dresses in a sexy way, doesn’t mean she owes you sex. Normalize the ideas of consent and bodily autonomy, even among younger boys. Everyone has the right to have their bodies treated respectfully, and everyone has the right to decline any kind of touch for any reason—even a hug. Teach your older sons that anything other than enthusiastic consent is unacceptable and that if he isn't sure she's into it, he should stop what he's doing and communicate with his partner.