Years of on-the-job research have probably enlightened you to the fact that your teen totally tunes you out. And you've surely noticed that the degree to which you're tuned out strongly correlates to how important the topic of discussion is. You've probably also realized your teen does a lot of dumb things, no matter how emphatically you warn against doing dumb things.
When talking to your teen about sex, it's easy to start and end every sentence with "Don't!" If your style of sex education is Sunday-morning fire-and-brimstone, your son or daughter is going to nod and say "OK" while imagining him or herself to be somewhere far, far away doing something other than talking to you about that.
Even if your message is "Don't!" supported with an argument based on fire-and-brimstone, you'll want to deliver it in a way that won't make your kid tune you out. You know your teen better than anyone -- or at least you did until puberty set in -- but your teen knows you pretty well, too. Your little darling has been studying you since birth, probing for weaknesses and cataloging hypocrisies. If you start giving orders and admonitions about sex, the whole conversation will be lumped into a mental category reserved for your rants -- the one titled "disregard."
But if you take away preaching, what do you replace it with? See the next page to find out.