Virginity is the state of not having had sex. A virgin is a person who chooses not to or has not yet had sex. Our culture defines basic sex as vaginal intercourse. This occurs between a woman and a man.
Talking to your kids about virginity goes hand in hand with talks about sex. You should have an ongoing dialogue with your kids on these topics. You can start at a young age with basics about sexuality. Add details and advice as your children get older.
Why it’s important
Kids are influenced by sex in a lot of ways. The media often portrays sex as common and casual. Pressure also can come from those around them. It could be from friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, peers, or older siblings.
Making the choice to stay a virgin is a big deal. It affects your physical, emotional, spiritual, and social well being. Kids often need help to process these thoughts and feelings. They also need to know the benefits of virginity and the risks of sex.
Children react better to this topic when parents are open and honest. You can explain that sex is a special act. They should wait to do it with someone they love and fully trust. This is why a lot of people choose to stay a virgin until marriage. People might pressure them to have sex before they are ready. If they do, those people don’t truly care about them. Choosing to stay a virgin is a sign of self-respect. It shows they have control over their body.
There are risks to having sex and trying other sexual acts. They could become pregnant or get sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Avoiding vaginal intercourse does not prevent the risk of STDs and STIs. You can get them from oral and anal sex.
Your teen also could suffer emotional issues. Common feelings are guilt, regret, and sadness. If your child is rejected after sex, they might become lonely or depressed. If this happens, seek medical and psychological care.
Sex can be an addiction and lead to unsafe behavior and practices. Your child should know that sex is not a game. They should not compete to have sex. And they should never have sex if they don’t want to or don’t say yes. If this occurs, they need to tell a trusted adult right away.
Things to consider
It is normal for kids to struggle with the idea and practice of virginity. Certain factors can affect this.
- Teens who go through puberty earlier might be more interested in sex. Also, girls often mature before boys.
- A strong moral or religious background can increase a child’s choice to remain a virgin.
- Family history. Kids might think it’s okay to have sex if their parents, or other family members, had kids at a young age. If they see you with many partners, it could make sex seem like a casual act.
- Social scene. A lot of kids follow their friends’ actions. Remind them to choose friends wisely. As parents, you should get to know their friends well.
- Self-esteem. It is easier to resist peer pressure if you have high self-esteem.
Following through can be the hardest part of staying a virgin. You can help your child with this.
- Set up rules and curfews.
- Keep them from parties and events without parents present.
- Teach them about the danger of substance abuse. Alcohol and drugs can affect your judgment and lead to bad choices.
- Remind them that actions can progress quickly. If your child is dating, urge them to set limits ahead of time.
- Help your child with self-esteem. Teach them skills to handle issues and social pressures.
- Have frequent talks with your kids. Tell them it’s normal to have sexual feelings or urges. Let them know they can come to you with any questions or problems.
- Be clear that they should not take any abuse. This includes verbal, physical, and sexual. If this happens, they need to alert a trusted adult right away.
Prepare before you start speaking with your kids about virginity. Think of answers to questions they might ask. Provide your kids with helpful resources or tools. You can talk through examples to plan for real life. You also can relate to them by sharing your experience.
Remember, it is your job as a parent to have this talk. Try to remain open and calm. In the end, the choice is up to them. You need to love and support them either way. If they choose to have sex, talk to them about how to be safe.
Questions to ask your doctor
- At what age should I start talking to my kids about virginity?
- What if my child is already sexually active?
Copyright © American Academy of Family Physicians
This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.