*This article is purely information and meant to add to your PCP recs and visit*
As a parent and soon-to-be Family Nurse Practitioner, I frequently wonder how I will handle the Sexually Transmitted Infection (previously STD) conversation with my kids.
Every parent is different and true to form, every kid is develops in their own time. The dynamics between your relationship with your kid(s) is much different from mine.
Regardless, here is a four step approach I would take to have an STI conversation with your kid:
Be honest and open
Kids want to know about this kind of stuff. If you don’t start the conversation, they will and it may not be with you. Many kids look to their peer group and online as a source of information. As you could probably imagine, most of the information they will find will not be up to par. This is why it is vital for you, as the parent, to kickstart the conversation.
The best time to bring up a conversation about symptoms of Candida vulvovaginitis may not be when you are eating cottage cheese for breakfast (or it might depending upon your parenting style). In our house, many conversations do spring up during family mealtimes. The mealtime prep arena is a great way to find out about what is going in your kid’s life, what they are up to and who they hang with.
If you don’t know, ask. And if you’re not sure, look it up from a reputable source like CDC, WHO, or MayoClinic. Ask your Primary Care Provider. Let’s say your kid asks a question you have no idea how to respond to. Try saying, “Great question, let’s look it up together.” By you saying this phrase, it shows your kid that you are transparent, a lifelong learner and shows them where and how to find information. A side effect is that your kid will be the one spinning reputable information to his or her friends.
As a parent, you want to keep a cool collected approach. This involves being genuinely interested in what your kid has to say and not freaking out and panicking if the sex/disease conversation springs up starting with them.
3. Encourage the HPV Vaccine
Many parents fear that encouraging kids to get this shot will encourage them to start having sex. For those of you who like data, it actually doesn’t.
Of all the vaccines, the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine is the only vaccine that can prevent six types of cancer (males and females). It is a two to three-shot series typically offered to kids starting ages nine and typically 11 – 14 up to age 26. (For the nitty-gritty, the 9-valent HPV vaccine protects against HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 50, and 58.) And of course, there are always special circumstances to receiving this vaccine, so best to talk with your PCP.
So say you found this article way too late. Your child is currently having sex, has or has had an STI. What do you do now? (see bullet 5)
Are they currently feeling sickly? Unless life-threatening (go to the ED), visit your PCP for treatment. Expect to pay for something along the lines of a z-pack and some doxy for a GC-type workup.
4.5 A Note on Birth Control: Males and females: many offices offer free condoms. Better to prevent than to react. For females, a popular option is an implant.
5. Keep the conversation going
Keeping the door open for continued conversation is key. An introduction to STIs during breakfast may get shut down quick with a gross factor yet it is important. Providing an open door and allowing your kid to come to you when he or she is ready promotes trust and safety.
Pedal faster, she screamed in a mixed excited, surprised wail. There’s a giant squid behind us and it’s going to get us!
It was just the motivation dad needed to pull the trailer up the increasing incline. He thought of the lactic acid building in his legs starting to become more of a reality than purely a textbook idea. Dad had not seen the squid but knew it was there. She had seen it. And it was real.
Her sister had not seen the squid either but as she turned her head around, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped. She joined in Dad, Pedal faster! The squid! The squid! It’s going to get us.
Mind racing, feet spinning, dad kicked into high gear for fear of their potential peril with this unknown underwater creature. Shouts of glee paraded from the back of the trailer!
Once they were around the corner past the top of the hill free of the squid, dad downshifted again on the 80s purple Bianchi, slowing a tad to catch his breath. They were almost home and all four of them were nap ready.
We had pedaled all the way to Pirate Island and back, a place about ten miles from our home. The one hundred pound trailer included the kids, the chocolate-colored toy poodle, water, wet wipes and snacks, which decreased due to hungry tummies.
Pirate Island is a magical place. It sits just along the river, shaded by cottonwoods providing a small beach that ebbs depending on the river’s flow. Today, the sand beach was limited due to the snowmelt. The sky remained crystal clear blue with cumulus clouds in the distance.
Riding around in our neighborhood is similar to icing on cake. It is where adventure continues. Adventure doesn’t always have to be hours away or even halfway across the globe. It starts right when you wake up. It is an orientation toward life. It’s about possibility and opportunity. It’s a way of seeing the world from the eyes of a child. The ability to keep this perspective as an adult is what keeps me young. The kids and the weight of the trailer, of course, help.
Biking has everything we need. So, I’ll keep at itand pedal faster.
As a sidenote, want to know something funny? This is a true story. Including the giant squid.