Healthy Futures
How to Talk With Your Children About the Challenges of Growing Up

How can I help my teen handle the pressures of adolescence?When should I start talking with my child about alcohol, dating and sex, and what should I say? Teens may act like they don’t want to hear from their parents, but your guidance is key to helping them face the challenges ahead. The stories of families in Healthy Futures can help you find the ways to talk to your children about difficult topics, stay involved in their lives, and provide the support they need to make healthy decisions.

Photo of Angela Bassett
Photo of John Amos
Hosted by
actors Angela Bassett and John Amos
Healthy Futures title photo
“Even if [we] parents do not think that [our] daughters are drinking and having sex, these [stories] can open the lines of communication. The experiences [in the stories] give us ideas and words to use.”

It Works:

When families listened to Healthy Futures, their teens were less likely to engage in sexual risks and to have sexual intercourse.

Click below for true-to-life stories of parents and their teens.

1 - Introduction by narrator John Amos

Narrator John Amos introduces three families that live in the same apartment building: the Clarks, the Santiagos, and the Knights. These families are dealing with many of the same issues that all parents of adolescents face.

2 - I hate my body

Tanika feels self-conscious and embarassed that she can no longer fit in her clothes because of the size of her breasts. How can her mother Simone help Tanika embrace her newly changing body?

3 - I still look like a little kid

Being teased by his friends about his shorter height makes Carlito depressed. Carlito's father Roberto tries to boost his son's confidence.

4 - Time for some deodorant

Eric and his friends come home from a baseball game with some major body odor. How can Eric's mom Christine talk to her son and his friends about puberty and personal hygiene without embarassing them?

5 - When a period isn't a punctuation mark

Jasmine confides in her cousin Tanika that she got her period for the first time. Tanika wonders when she'll get her period, and asks her mother Simone for advice on how to prepare.

6 - I can't talk to him

Roberto can't get his son Carlito to open up to him. How can Roberto encourage Carlito to feel comfortable asking questions about his changing body, puberty, and peer pressure?

7 - You throw like a girl

Eric comes home upset because his baseball coach said he "throws like a girl." How can his mother Christine respond in a way that reassures her son, but also reminds him that it's not ok to stereotype?

8 - Being teased

When Roberto overhears his son Carlito and friends make some mean jokes about a fellow classmate, he must decide how to respond.

9 - How come I don't see her anymore

Maya and Jasmine used to be best friends, but haven't seen each other in a while. How can Maya's mother Christine find out what happened and be sensitive at the same time?

10 - It helps to talk

Simone, Christine, and Alicia are all mothers of children going through puberty. By discussing their challenges, they are able to sympathize with one another and share advice.

11 - Introduction by narrator John Amos

Narrator John Amos introduces three families that live in the same apartment building: the Clarks, the Santiagos, and the Knights. These families are dealing with many of the same issues that all parents of adolescents face.

12 - How do you know if you're in love

Maya has a new crush! How should her mother Christine try to explain the difference between liking someone and being in love, and the responsible way to act on these feelings?

13 - My internet friend

Mercedes met a new boy online, and her father Roberto is concerned. How can Roberto discuss internet safety without scaring his daughter?

14 - The love note

Tanika is secretly meeting with an older boy from school, even though she's not allowed to date yet. How will her parents Simone and Sonny react when they find out?

15 - Caught you looking

While walking in a park with his father Sean, Eric is caught looking at a woman. Sean explains to his son the importance of respecting women and knowing boundaries.

16 - Hey, what are they doing

A popular rap video contains a lot of inapporpriate language - and brothers Carlito and Tomas are singing along. How will their father Roberto react when he overhears?

17 - The older boy

Tanika is caught breaking the rules by talking to an older boy - again! Her parents Simone and Sonny try to explain to Tanika that they set these rules for her own safety.

18 - Look what I found

Eric and his friend Carlito accidentally visit a pornographic website. How will Eric's mother Christine react when she walks in on them?

19 - What would you do

Cassandra tells her friend Mercedes that she had sex, and Mercedes' mother Alicia overhears! Will she be able to calmly talk to her daughter about the situation?

20 - We don't see eye to eye

Christine's ex-husband Sean encouraged their son Eric to date multiple girls at a time! Can Christine keep her cool and explain to Sean how he influences their son?

21 - Introduction by narrator John Amos

Narrator John Amos introduces three families that live in the same apartment building: the Clarks, the Santiagos, and the Knights. These families are dealing with many of the same issues that all parents of adolescents face.

22 - What are you wearing

Mercedes and Cassandra are trying on outfits for a boy-girl party. Mercedes' father Roberto does not approve of her outfit, and tries to explain how it could attract unwanted attention.

23 - He's got a girl in there

Corey is kissing a girl in the living room - and his brother Eric and mother Christine walk in! Listen as Christine reminds Corey that he needs to set a positive example for his younger brother.

24 - The phone calls

Carlito receives multiple phone calls from girls. What kind of questions will his father Roberto ask about these relationships?

25 - Safety and supervision

Is Tanika old enough to walk home alone? Her parents Sonny and Simone try to come to a decision.

26 - He buys me things

Friends Mercedes and Cassandra swap stories about gifts they've received from boys. Their friend Maya listens and wonders if these boys might expect something in return.

27 - Did you hear? She's pregnant!

Alicia tells her friend Christine that their daughters' friend Jasmine is pregnant! How can they prevent this from happening to their own daughters?

28 - How long do I have to wait

Christine, Alicia, Roberto, and Simone each respond to the same question posed by their children: "How long do I have to wait to have sex?"

1 - She is 12 going on 30!

Sharon and Nora are dealing with challenges of raising pre-teens—from how their bodies are changing to how moody and sensitive they are.

2 - Did I see him looking at you

Robert overhears an older boy make a crude comment about his daughter Keisha and has to figure out how to respond.

3 - But there are so many bigger things to worry about

A passing conversation between Christina and Felicia at school pick-up turns into something more serious, as they grapple with how to talk to their daughters about alcohol and sex. 

4 - Dear diary

Helena leaves her diary open by accident, and her mother Nora reads it. Helena is hurt and angry! But Nora still wants to find a way to talk about what she has learned Helena is going through.

5 - It's not just girl talk

Segundo feels pretty uncomfortable talking to his niece about boys and growing up. He looks to his friend Enrique for advice.

6 - Now everybody's going to know

Christina is excited that her daughter Maria is becoming a woman. But when Maria finds out that her mother told Maria's aunt that she got her period, Maria is not happy at all!

7 - Why can't I have a sip

When Sharon finds out that Uncle Harry let her daughter Keisha drink some beer at the family barbeque, Sharon tries to find a way to lay down some rules about drinking.

8 - What could you say

When her daughter Maria gets home from a party, Christina discovers that some other kids there were drinking. How can Christina help her daughter deal with peer pressure and make the right decisions?

9 - Who was that

Felicia overhears her daughter Ana talking on the phone with a boy. Uncomfortable with the situation, Felicia has to figure out how to talk with Anna about rules when it comes to boys.

10 - They asked me to bring some

While cleaning up, Sharon finds beer hidden under her daughter Keisha's bed. Sharon tries to keep calm as she talks with Keisha about peer pressure and the consequences of drinking.

11 - Just wanted to know how things are going

Helena opens up to her mother Nora that she's being teased about the way she dresses, and asks for advice on how to respond to these girls.

12 - It was only a few sips

When Ana returns hungover from a sleepover, her mother Felicia must calm down and confront her about the importance of making good choices.

13 - Our baby is growing up

Robert feels uncomfortable with the idea of his daughter growing up. He and his wife Sharon try to figure out how to talk to their daughter about underage drinking, drugs, dating, and sex.

14 - Can I go

When Maria asks to attend a co-ed Halloween party, her mother Christina uses this as an opportunity to discuss knowing when to say "no" to friends —and to boys.

15 - That reminds me of this one time

By telling a story from his high school years when a classmate threw up after drinking too fast, Enrique talks to his daughter about the consequences of drinking alcohol.

16 - Guess what happened at the party

Felicia overhears her son Jesse telling her daughter Ana about a party he went to —and how one girl made out with three guys! Felicia tries to help Jesse and Ana understand how to protect themselves and their reputations.

17 - Oh, the pressure of peers

When Keisha teases her father about how old his car is, Robert explains she's not the only one who sometimes faces peer pressure.

18 - It can't be that bad

Helena confronts her mother with questions about why adults can drink, while Helena is considered too young.

19 - The accident

Enrico shares with his daughters about a co-worker who got into an accident after drinking and driving and how to prevent this from happening to them.

20 - What are you wearing

When Segundo sees Ana's new Halloween costume, he is shocked. How can Segundo talk with her about what's appropriate when it comes to dressing up?

21 - It's okay if you talk to her

Helena thinks her aunt Carol is cool and fun, more so than her mother Nora. Should Nora suggest that Helena talk with Carol about difficult topics like alcohol and boys?

22 - I can't believe there's a baby in there

When Helena notices that her cousin Sandra has been acting strange since she became pregnant, her mother Nora explores with her how being pregnant can change your entire lifestyle.

23 - She needs my support

Nora's niece is depressed —and has been drinking to cope. How can Nora and her friend Christina prevent the same thing from happening to their own daughters?

24 - They're giving her a hard time

Keisha's friend Brenda is being bullied at school —and Keisha's others friends are the ones doing the bullying! Keisha turns to her parents for advice on how to stand up for her friend.

25 - I remember this one girl…

Nora talks with her daughter Helena about a girl she used to know growing up who would drink to get attention from boys. Nora explores whether Helena might know anyone like that, too.

26 - Guess what, Abuela!

Ana got one of the highest grades in class on an important school project! It's time to celebrate.

27 - It's important to wait

When Maria's friends showed up at a Halloween party wearing tighter, more mature costumes, Maria felt self-conscious and young. Christina tries to convince her daughter that self-respect is more important than wearing sexy clothes to attract boys.

28 - I decided it wasn't for me

Sharon overhears her daughter Keisha telling a friend that she doesn't drink, and doesn't feel comfortable anymore with a group of friends who do. How should Sharon let her daughter know she made the right choice?

29 - Tell me it gets easier!

Raising daughters is challenging —and Chritina and Nora are afraid things will get harder as their daughters enter high school! What can they do help their daughters grow into confident, capable young women?

1 - I can't believe how much he's grown

Vera and Sandra are dealing with new challenges as their sons become teenagers—from how their bodies are changing to how moody and sensitive they are.

2 - She's pretty cute

When his son Jesse is starting to get attention from girls at school, Darren tries to figure out how to talk to his son about making responsible decisions.

3 - I'm more worried about other things

Elena and Sonia each have 12-year-old sons and share a big concern about raising them: how can they talk with their boys about sex?

4 - I'm not a kid

Marshall is trying to convince his mother that he's now a man! How can Vera help him understand all of the responsibility and maturity that goes along with that?

5 - Why can't I have a sip

Sonia overhears her son Jesse ask his uncle for a sip of beer. How should she react?

6 - The carwash

Christian is tired of being teased for his sneakers, and asks his father Mario for a new pair that is expensive. Mario tries to help Christian understand there are more important things in life than material goods.

7 - The text message

When Marshall says that he's "hooking up" with a girl from school, his mother Vera asks him what this really means?

8 - The sniff test

Mauricio comes home from a party looking red-eyed and acting sluggish, and his father Mario wonders whether Mauricio has been smoking marijuana. What happens when Mario confronts his son about it?

9 - He needs some man-to-man

Thinking her son Marshall could use a male role model, Vera tries to convince her brother Rene to talk with Marshall about "guy stuff."

10 - You want to tell me something

Lamar get busted by his sister after skipping an afterschool program to hang out with his friends. How will his grandmother Sandra react?

11 - The laundromat

Sandra and Sonia share about the surprises and challenges they're facing as their children go through the changes of puberty.

12 - You know that girl

Elena's sons Mauricio and Christian talk with their friend Renal about a girl at school that they describe as being "easy." Elena overhears and addresses what they've been saying.

13 - They asked me to bring some

Vera finds beer in her son Marshall's room and confronts him about the situation.

14 - This calls for a celebration!

Lamar's teacher called to say that he got an A on his math test! It's time to celebrate.

15 - They think they're cool

Rene and his nephew Marshall pass some kids drinking alcohol in public. Rene tries to convince Marshall that there are other ways to impress friends without drinking alcohol or trying drugs.

16 - Let's stay involved

Jesse's grades in school are worse than expected. His parents try to develop a plan to better monitor Jesse's grades and stay involved with his schoolwork.

17 - Who Is he

When Lamar asks to attend a party, his grandmother Sandra demands more details.

18 - The website

An instant message for her son Christian pops up while Elena is on the computer. When she clicks on the link, she is taken to a site with pictures of classmates smoking and drinking. How can Elena confront Christian without making him feel his privacy was invaded?

19 - My little angel

Justin, a schoolmate, frequently acts out, yet his mother doesn't seem to know. Mario and Sonia begin to wonder how much they know about their own sons' behavior.

20 - Is your homework done

Jesse wants to go play a new video game with his friend, despite not finishing his homework yet. Will his mother Sonia let him go?

21 - Is HIV really that bad

When Sandra and Lamar run into a neighbor with HIV, Sandra tries to help Lamar understand the truth about the effects of the disease.

22 - You're too smart for that

Sonia's nephew Alvin was drinking and got into a fight! Sonia and and her husband Darren try to figure out how to respond.

23 - Have you seen him recently

After realizing they haven't seen him for a while, Darren and Mario discuss how they could support their friend Gus who has HIV.

24 - What's her name again

Darren sees his son Jesse kissing a girl at the basketball court and tries to find out more about the relationship.

25 - I'm kinda bored

Marshall is home and bored. How can his mother Vera help him find something to do?

26 - He doesn't like being home

Lamar's friend Chris has been depressed and absent from school. Lamar asks his grandmother Sandra for advice on how to help his friend.

27 - Is there a girl in his room

Elena comes home to find her son Christian with a girl in his room! His older brother Mauricio was supposed to be in charge —so who's fault is it?

28 - I decided it wasn't for me

When Marshall decides that his friend Darius is hanging out with a new group of people that he doesn't want to be around, his mother Vera tries to find out why.

1 - What are we going to do

Chantal's son and Erika's granddaughter are about to enter high school. How can they kepp an eye on them and encourage them through these challenging years?

2 - 9th grade wasn't easy for me either

Jimmy is teased for being so much shorter than the other boys at school. His father Charles tries to relate to his son by sharing a story from his own time in high school.

3 - I'm gonna get a hot older guy

Christine tells a friend how she wants to attract some older boys in high schoo, and her grandmother Erika overhears. How can she encourage Christine to resist pressure from friends and older boys?

4 - It was a hard day for both of us

RaShawn comes home and gives his mom Chantal attitude. How will she react?

5 - You talk about that with him

Charles feels overwhelmed with his son's growing interest in girls, and asks his friend Enrico for advice on how to talk to him. 

6 - Let's keep talking

Although he feels uncomfortable, Charles needs to talk with his son Jimmy about safe sex.

7 - She spends all her time with him

Eva confides in her mother Marisa that her best friend is thinking about having sex with her new boyfriend. How can Marisa respond in a way that promotes this kind of open discussion, but also makes sure Eva understands the importance of safe sex?

8 - She keeps calling

Jimmy gets a phone call from a girl, and his older sister Monique teases him about it. How should their father Charles handle the situation?

9 - It's so different from how we grew up!

Arlene and Marisa reminisce about their own years in high school. How can they relate to the environment in which their own daughters are growing up?

10 - Phone don't make the man

RaShawn insists he needs a fancy cell phone. His father Martin argues that a phone can't determine social status or make friends.

11 - Let's support him

Julian tells his mother that his cousin Carlos is dating a boy, and that Carols' father isn't taking it very well. How can Julian help his cousin through this tough time?

12 - A new group of guys

Chantal wonders who her son RaShawn plays basketball with. What will Chantal say when she finds out that many of the boys have questionable reputations?

13 - He's two years older than you

Christine finds out that an older boy likes her, but her grandmother Erika disapproves of the age difference. Can they come to a compromise?

14 - Homework comes first

Jimmy just got home from school and wants to go out with his friends – again. His parents Arlene and Charles must explain the importance of prioritizing homework over his other plans. 

15 - It may not always be comfortable

Chantal sees her son RaShawn eating lunch with some girls. Can she encourage him to to have a conversation with her about relationships and sex?

16 - Who's here

Erika comes home to find her granddaughter Christine alone with a boy. how can Erika remind Christine of the house rules while also opening up a conversation about sex before anything serious happens?

17 - I found this in his pocket

Arlene finds a condom in her son Jimmy's pocket! Will her husband Charles admit that he's the one who gave it to him?

18 - Late night rules

RaShawn tries to sneak into the apartment at midnight – but is caught by his mother Chantal!

19 - He's still the same boy

Marisa is concerned about her nephew's troubles after coming out as gay. She decides she needs to talk to her brother about supporting and accepting his son.

20 - That's not what you told me

Eva says she's going to meet a friend. How will her mother Marisa react when she discovers Eva's actually going to be with a whole group of friends –  including the boy she likes?

21 - What these pictures mean

Christine posts a revealing picture online, and her grandmother Erika finds out! Without offending her granddaughter, Erika needs to explain that these photos are public and can give the wrong impression.

22 - He's worried about his mom

Luis is getting teased at school because his mother dates a lot of men. Can his cousin Eva do anything to help?

23 - I don't think it's a big deal

While playing basketball with friends, RaShawn is offered marijuana. Will he accept it?

24 - I saw her kissing an older boy

A friends tells Erika that her granddaughter Christine was seen kissing an older boy outside school. Erika mjust remind Christine that she needs to think about her reputation.

25 - That's called dating violence

Jimmy's friend Darren acts jealous and mean around his girlfriend. Jimmy feels uncomfortable with the situation, and asks his mom Arlene for advice on what to do.

26 - I want her to be safe

Marisa's nephew is getting teased for his mother Jo's recent string of relationships. Marisa must delicately explain to her sister Jo that her romantic life is affecting her son's social life.

27 - I thought she was pregnant!

Christine broke up her boyfriend. Her grandmother Erika is worried that she might be showing signs of depression, and asks her friend Chantal for advice.

28 - Have I told you I am proud of you

RaShawn's essay was picked for an honor at school! When his mother Chantal finds out, she shows how proud she is of his hard work.

Saving Sex for Later was developed with funding by Grant Number 1R01HD35378 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Copyright © 2003 Education Development Center, Inc.

Especially for Daughters was developed with funding by Grant Number 1R01AA014515 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the Office of Research on Women’s Health. Copyright © 2005 Education Development Center, Inc.

For Our Sons was developed with funding by Grant Number 1R01HD054297-01A1 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Copyright © 2009 Education Development Center, Inc.

Preparing for High School was developed with funding from Grant Number 5R01HD054297-01 from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Copyright © 2010 Education Development Center, Inc.

EDC Health Promotion Programs

These programs were developed by the Health and Human Development Division at Education Development Center, Inc.