During adolescence, as teens naturally seek greater independence, it can be difficult to maintain connection between parent/caregiver and child. However, meeting this challenge offers real rewards, including a safer and healthier passage through the teen years. Parents and caregivers often underestimate their influence with their adolescent children. When it comes to decisions about sex, for example, families can make all the difference: teens who feel a sense of connection to and support from their parents, and teens who can talk to their parents about sex and contraception, are less likely to engage in certain risky sexual behaviors .
Positive family communication helps teens develop the values, security, and sense of worth that can lead to healthy decision making. Communication skills don't come naturally or easily to all of us, and some subjects may be especially fraught. Program providers can help family members build their communication skills, and can also help parents and caregivers learn how to communicate positively, clearly, and accurately.
Parent Education Curricula and Resources
California Evidence-Based Clearinghouse (CEBC) for Child Welfare
CEBC provides a searchable database of child welfare programs, including parenting programs.
Parent-Child Communication Programs
Advocates for Youth summarizes research about parent-child communication programs.
Tip Sheet: Parent-Child Communication
The Family and Youth Services Bureau offers tips for integrating parent-child communication into your program.
Developed by the Search Institute, Keep Connected is a seven-session workshop series for parents and their middle school children. The program gives parents and youth an opportunity to learn keys to positive family relationships and to try new ways to stay connected even as kids grow up and become more independent. Training is required for program delivery.
It's That Easy
This extensive excerpt from the training manual "It's That Easy: A Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children" provides a sample outline and all materials for sexuality educators to lead parent/caregiver activities. Originally developed by a Minnesota coalition, this resource is made available by Advocates for Youth.
Resources for Parents
Center for Parent and Teen Communication: Talking with Teens
Based at the Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the Center for Parent and Teen Communication offers science-based strategies to support healthy family relationships.
The Developmental Relationships Framework
Here, the Search Institute explores five relationship strategies: express care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities.
Raising Teens: Five Basics of Parenting Adolescents
MIT's Raising Teens Project identifies five significant ways in which parents can influence healthy adolescent development.
Nemours Foundation offers resources and guidance to parents on positive parenting, growth and development, and sexual development.
Amaze for Parents
AMAZE videos can help parents break the ice and start critical conversations about sexual development, gender identity, relationships, reproduction, and more. Amaze provides parent information for each video, including conversation starters and related resources such as videos, books, and websites. A "Having the Talks" feature includes brief videos by educators about approaching especially sensitive topics such as masturbation and porn. If parents choose to register on the site, they can use the "My Amaze" feature to share specific videos with their children on a protected page.
Every Body Curious
Every Body Curious is an entertaining and educational YouTube series about sexuality and healthy relationships for youth ages 9-12 (and their parents). It's a safe setting where leading sex educators answer real questions from real kids, and open and honest conversations about sexuality, bodies, and healthy relationships are encouraged. A blog for parents provides additional perspectives and resources.
Talking with Teens about Relationships
Although relationships between adolescents and their parents or caregivers are unique, sometimes it helps to get suggestions on what to say. This article from the HHS Office of Population Affairs suggests ways to respond to teens' concerns about sex and relationships.
Resources for Young People
Center for Parent and Teen Communication: Talking with Parents
Here, young people can learn tips for improving communication with parents, caregivers, and other adults.
Sex, Etc.: Communication Tool
This tool gives young people ideas for starting conversations about sex, pregnancy, sexual health, and sexuality with parents and other important people in their lives.
Teens Health: Talking to Your Parents - or Other Adults
Nemours Foundation provides guidance and tips for young people.