Hey, Doc — Can You Talk With My Kid About Sex?

When we bring our wanna-be-teen and teenage kids to the doctor for routine check-ups, many of us are hoping our kid’s doctor or nurse practitioner will do more than just check blood pressure, listen to our child’s heart and keep the vaccination record up to date.

We also want the doctor to talk with our kids about sex, diet, drug abuse and smoking, says a report from the University of Michigan.

The poll — which asked parents of 11- to 17-year-old kids to rate 18 health-related topics for healthcare providers to address during an adolescent’s routine check-up — found that diet/nutrition, exercise/sports and the physical changes of puberty were the overall top three issues parents want discussed, followed by drugs, tobacco, sexually transmitted diseases and depression/suicide.

Doctors have heard it all, and they know how to talk with teens and pre-teens about these potentially touchy topics. So if there’s something on your mind that you’d like your child’s doctor to discuss during an upcoming office visit, call her in advance and let her know.

Have you had any situations where your pediatrician talked with your child about these subjects? Do you wish your pediatrician would bring up these things during a visit?

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4 Responses to “Hey, Doc — Can You Talk With My Kid About Sex?”

  1. ellen says:

    I switched my daughters to my physician at about 13. I mad sure the first visit was stress free. With my oldest I made a “transition” appointment when she had a simple need, not feeling sick from an awful flu or needing an immunization. With my youngest, I just took her to one of my easy appointments. I prefaced each one’s first appointment with “just meet her and see what you think”. I let them make the decision which I think helped. Gave them a sense of being in control and not forced. Also let them feel grown up! They both liked her and the transitions were easy.

  2. Kathy Sena says:

    Ellen, I think you were so smart to do it this way. Makes a lot of sense to let then feel comfortable and not pushed. Thanks for the good ideas!

  3. Jen Singer says:

    I don’t see how a pediatrician could cover such broad topics in just 15 minutes, unless there was a specific issue. These are things that best get covered in little conversations over time with parents, teachers and therapists.

  4. Not a parent, but my pediatrician first brought up the subject of sex when I was somewhere between 13 and 15, I think. My mom was there the first time, but my doctor said “Mom, next time, this is between me and Jess - she needs to know that she can talk to me about this stuff so that we can keep her healthy and not have the conversation go any further if she doesn’t want it to.” Even though I’ve always been close with my mom and shared a lot with her, it made me feel great that my doctor had my health AND my privacy in mind. The rest of my visits to my pediatrician were solo, and she was very conscientious about asking me about any sexual activity, safety measures, whether or not anyone was hurting or pressuring me, etc. And at my last pediatric visit (pre-college at 18 - I didn’t want to switch until I had to!), she talked to me about what to expect from a visit to a gynecologist, which, coming from someone I trusted as a medical expert, made it a little less scary. If I have a daughter, I hope to find a pediatrician for her who will be just as supportive and open to discussing any aspects of sexual health she may not feel comfortable discussing quite so in depth with me.