NASHVILLE - Parents are becoming more comfortable having "the talk" with their teenagers, but half of parents say they're still not fully comfortable discussing sexuality with their sons and daughters.
That's one result from a new national poll commissioned by Family Circle magazine. The poll also found that only 1 in 6 teens describes himself or herself as "very comfortable" talking with their parents about sex.
Vicki Hadd-Wissler, education director for Planned Parenthood, said parents face more pressure to speak up because of what children see in the media.
"What young people are exposed to at younger ages, I think, sort of startles parents into recognizing that they need to have those conversations with their children," she said.
Overall, the poll found that 90 percent of parents are talking with their teens about topics involving sexuality. Hadd-Wissler said she is encouraged that number includes more than 85 percent of fathers.
The poll found only 30 percent of parents talk often with their teens about birth control, but Hadd-Wissler said she thinks it's because such information can easily be found online. She added teens are more likely to seek relationship advice from their parents.
"How do you know when you're in love with somebody and what's a level of intimacy, not that kids would say that word 'intimacy' but, that's okay for me to share with somebody else? I mean, I think those are the kinds of answers that young people are looking for from their parents," she said.
The poll is part of the Let's Talk Month initiative, a nationwide effort to encourage conversations between parents and children about sex and relationships.
Hadd-Wissler said one message of the campaign is that parents can reduce the likelihood that their teens will engage in risky behavior by paying more attention to where their kids are and who they're with.
"Parents knowing who their kids' friends are, who their kids are dating, also knowing the parents of the boy or girl that their child is dating," she added.
Planned Parenthood of Tennessee is holding a series of "Let's Talk" workshops for parents and teens this month in Tennessee. The next workshop will be held Friday, Oct. 12, in Nashville.
Details are available at www.plannedparenthood.org.