A nice family vacation to Disney World seemed to Dr. Aaron Carroll’s young sons like the perfect time to start asking about sex. Very detailed, specific questions, actually, to the immediate embarrassment of the strangers within hearing distance. But Carroll, a professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, and his wife are used to this sort of thing. When their kids ask about sex, they answer honestly (as long as the questions don’t get too personal).
Their friends are baffled by their open approach — isn’t it better to shield young kids from this stuff until they’re ready for it? But in a new video for his (reliably great) Healthcare Triage YouTube series, Carroll breaks down a recently published analysis of 52 studies, each of which examined the relationship between parent-adolescent communication about sex and the kids’ safer sex behaviors. As it turns out, Carroll’s approach is probably spot-on: Kids who talk openly with their parents about sex do tend to practice safer sex. Sometimes the awkward subjects are exactly the ones that deserve more discussion.