Sexual Recovery Blog

An Unavoidable Issue, Pt. 2: How To Talk To Your Teens About Sexting

Posted by Teagan Darnell on

Adults may experience their own resistance towards bringing up the topic of sexting with their teens because it can be uncomfortable to discuss. Some tips for bringing up this topic with your teens can be useful. One tip is to preface the conversation with something like, "Honey, I want to check in with you about texting. I know that you enjoy staying in contact with your friends, and I am glad that your friendships are important to you. I'd like to discuss some of the risks that can be involved with sending certain pictures and texts to guys. I know you probably don't like talking about it, but I want to hear your thoughts about sexting. Maybe you already have a good grip on some of your own boundaries about what you are willing and not willing to text." 


This sort of prefacing allows your teen to not be blind-sided by the conversation, making it less likely for them react defensively. This approach also draws them out because it leaves space for them to share their thoughts about the issue. It can be very affirming for teens to have their thoughts acknowledged when they have already decided to draw healthy boundaries for themselves. Ultimately, the goal is for your teen to have a sense that you want to collaborate with them, not tell them what to do. 


Another way to bring up the topic is to express an understanding of your teen's desire for connection and intimacy. This approach may be useful for teens who are in dating relationships. It can be stated in a forthcoming way like, "I can see that you are really invested in your relationship with your girlfriend. It is cool to see how much you care for her. The two of you seem very close and I've noticed how well you treat her. One of the things that we never talked about before you two started dating is sexting. I know you don't like talking about these kinds of things, but I want you to think through this issue as your relationship continues to grow. Sexting is a pretty common thing these days and I am wondering if you have thought through the pros and cons of sending sexts and pictures?"


Overall, there is no easy way to bring these issues up with teens, but is in their best interest that we do. The way we approach these conversations is important because the end goal is for our teens to feel supported, understood, and affirmed. Teens are trying to navigate many issues on their own, and even if they don't let us see it, our caring assistance can have a positive effect on their decision-making processes when they are choosing what to send and what not to send via text.  


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