The teenage years are arguably the most awkward stage of childhood, perhaps even our entire lives. Our bodies change. Our responsibilities grow. The carefree days of early childhood quietly slip away and life becomes so much more complicated.

As a young child, running up to mommy or daddy and saying the first thing on your mind comes naturally. As a teenager, innumerable questions about sex, birth control, crushes, drugs and alcohol, driving and independence are not so easy to ask.

As a hands-on parent, all you can do is create an atmosphere of respect and trust so your teenager feels comfortable talking to you. Here are 5 questions your teenager isn’t asking but you should answer:

How do I know if I’m ready to have sex?

There is no right age to begin having sex. Each one of us is a unique individual with a distinct personality. Giving and receiving sexual pleasure is an intensely intimate experience. You can get hurt if the two people involved in a sexual relationship do not feel equal amounts of commitment towards each other. This is why sexual intimacy is inappropriate on a first date or very early in a relationship.

You are ready to become sexually active with your boyfriend/girlfriend when you can talk to them about serious issues such as safe sex practices and how you will deal with any negative consequences of having sex. You are ready to engage in sexual activity when you are ready to face your own and your partner’s emotional reactions to sex. If all of these things are not in place, you are probably not ready to have sex.

What’s the big deal about texting and driving or drinking and driving?

Learning to drive is incredibly exciting for teenagers and spells freedom in capital letters. However, it also carries with it several risks if you don’t make a commitment to safety. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for young people between 15 and 24 years of age. Distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving are the top 3 causes of car accidents.

Using a mobile phone or putting on makeup while driving is extremely dangerous because the human brain is not wired to do multiple things at once and give its full attention to all. Alcohol slows reflexes and affects judgment, which is why it is important to never drink and drive, even if it means making an uncomfortable call to mom or dad.

How do I know if someone likes me?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer here. Different people react differently when they have a crush on someone. Some people will do anything to attract that person’s attention. Others will become shy and quiet around that person. Some will annoy and tease their crush. Others will go out of their way to help. Surviving teenage crushes is an integral part of the journey of adolescence.

One of the easiest ways to find out if someone likes you is to ask. You may not always get a clear answer but it will clue you into the other person’s feelings and lessen your anxiety. Using friends or Facebook to find out if someone likes you has its own pitfalls – the most important one being that your feelings become public knowledge. It takes a lot of courage to ask a person directly, but the worst thing that can happen is the answer is no. If you are emotionally strong enough for a rejection, asking directly is a good way to move on.

Can I use a latex balloon as a condom?

Absolutely not! This is an unsafe, unhealthy, and downright dangerous practice. Condoms and balloons may both be made of latex, but they are not interchangeable. It’s like using an eraser in place of a car tire because they’re both made of rubber.

Condoms are designed for a specific purpose – safe sex. They can stretch a lot more than balloons. Substitutes such as balloons, socks, or plastic wraps do not provide the same level of protection against sexually transmitted infections and may cause you grave harm. Condoms are freely available at drug stores and supermarkets and you don’t need a prescription to buy them. If you’re too embarrassed to ask for condoms, you are not ready for sexual intercourse.

Am I overweight?

You can find out by calculating your body mass index (BMI). This formula compares a person’s weight to their height. Your BMI helps a doctor identify whether you are overweight. Teenage obesity is linked to many chronic medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease later in life. But going on crash diets is not the answer. If you are overweight, a doctor can recommend healthy ways to lose weight through diet and exercise. A positive body image (how you feel about your body compared to others) is important for a healthy self-esteem. Not everyone can look the same (skinny, tall, blonde hair, blue eyes). Becoming comfortable with how you look is a part of growing up.

Surviving your child’s adolescence is no mean feat. We hope the answers to these 5 questions your teenager isn’t asking help you in this mission!