Some teenagers are sexually attracted to people of the opposite sex, some are attracted to people of the same sex, and some are bisexual.
But not all teenage relationships include sex. Young people who are same-sex attracted might or might not identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
For example, a rule might be that your child treats others with respect and always checks on consent before and during sexual activity. Your child will learn about sexuality at school, talk about it with friends, and get information about it online and through social media. They might identify as heterosexual or pansexual.
If you talk about sex and sexuality with your childit will help them sort through the many messages they get about sexuality from other sources. Our article on handling difficult conversations has ideas for managing those uncomfortable moments.
It can also help your child make positive, safe and informed choices, now and in the future. They might want romantic intimacy and ways to express love and affection. Some teenagers might express no sexual interest.
Most teenagers will experiment with sexual behaviour at some stage — this is a normal, natural and powerful urge in these years. So sorting out your own feelings about this issue in advance is a good idea.
You can help your child by modelling and reinforcing values and beliefs about safety, responsibility, honest communication and respect in relationships by treating your partner with respect and talking about how to stay safe. But with other, less important issues, you might choose to negotiate with your child and set the boundaries together, so they feel involved and listened to.
For example, if your child feels confused about their feelings for someone and asks you about same-sex attraction, responding positively and non-judgmentally is a good first step. Early conversations can help make later ones easier. You can always try again later. It might also help to think in advance about your values and beliefs so you can be clear and consistent with your .
Our article on sexual development and autistic teenagers explains. But young people do trust the information they get from their parents. Autistic teenagers develop sexually in the same way as other teenagers do, but they might need extra help to build the social skills and understanding that go along with sexual development.
And they might be curious and want to explore adult behaviour.
Teenagers are also maturing emotionally and socially.