Abstinence means something different to each person.
For some, it means skipping out on everything sex-related, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. For others, it means waiting until marriage, or just waiting until you’re older. Be sure to make it clear to your child what you mean when you say the word “abstinence” or “waiting for sex.”
It’s true that waiting for sexual activity is free, includes no side effects, and is 100% effective if used 100% of the time. Even if your teen is waiting, be sure they know their birth control options and risk for contracting STDs just in case they do become sexually active. In fact, when teens hear about both abstinence AND birth control methods, they wait longer to have sex and are LESS likely to get pregnant or contract an STD than teens who only ever hear about abstinence.
Talking about pregnancy prevention and STD prevention with your child will make a difference. In a national survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teens reported that their parents have the greatest influence over their decisions about sex—more than friends, siblings, or the media.
Most teens also say they share their parents’ values about sex, and that delaying sex would be easier if they could talk openly and honestly with their parents.