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It's you who has to initiate the discussion, not them.
- Mother of a 10 year old

Most times it starts with you, Mother, taking the initiative. If your adolescent daughter has not started asking questions about sex, look for an opportunity to start a conversation. If no opportunity presents itself, sit her down and tell her that now that she is grown up, you wish to talk to her about few important facts - about sex. Be prepared for strange smirks and smiles, for shocked or embarrassed silence, be prepared to hear that she does not want to talk about this with you, or that she knows about it. You can reassure your daughter that these talks are not meant to embarrass, but are about dealing with awkward or difficult situations she may have to deal with. Tell her that it is okay to talk about this with you, because you will try and help her understand. Even if your child does not get the message you wanted, she will have learnt that you care and that if she is confused or scared, you are approachable. It is never a wasted effort, and the communication channels that you are building come into use sooner than later. It's happened with many a parent and child, and it will happen to you too. Just keep trying.

Today's kids are very smart, they come and ask directly.
- Mother of a 13 year old.

This, other scenario perhaps is more common, when the child initiates the talk. In an unguarded moment, your 10 year old drops a bombshell of a question. Ma, what is a condom? Try and answer as truthfully as possible, giving accurate and age appropriate information. Start by saying something basic like - It is a kind of protection men use and then be guided by her next question. There may be a few more or if she is satisfied for now, none.

The critical thing is not to react immediately, certainly not with a brush off or the most quoted line - you will know when you grow up! Didn't you just hate it every time an adult said that to you as a kid, and didn't it raise your curiosity even more? An enduring tip for all time is that what is even more important than what you say is how you say it.