“Mommy, how did a baby get in your tummy”, the child asked. “It’s magic”, their parent replied. This is a typical conversation between a curious child and a parent who feels like it’s too early to teach their child about sex. The truth is no time is too early to have “the talk” with your kids. This doesn’t mean that you have to give them all of the details at one time, but rather spread the teaching over the course of their youth and adolescent years.
Let’s face it, our kids live in a society where they are exposed to sexual images, languages, and behaviors before they are mentally prepared to handle them. Video games have become more graphic, movies have become more suggestive, and anything is accessible on the internet.
So, while you can shy away from having the talk with your kids, know that they may hear about it in school, from their friends, or from the examples mentioned above. Not to mention, it can be dangerous when they get to hear it first from these sources instead of you. The information they receive may be misleading, especially if the news is coming from someone of the same age. They also might not feel comfortable telling you all they know about sex and hormonal changes because you haven’t talked about it with them before. Point being, have the talk. Don’t make it awkward and don’t just ask them if they know about “the birds and the bees”, teach them.
We understand how difficult it can be for parents to have sex talks with their children, but it’s vital for their health and safety. If you’re a part of this category of parents who feel uncomfortable about having sex talks – here is the good news: we have compiled a list of tips that will help you initiate meaningful and more comfortable sex talks.
Know the Anatomy
A simple way to begin is using the right names for genitals. Learn the proper names for each part of the body and their individual functions. This applies to both the male and the female reproductive system. When you study the anatomy of the human body, you are good to move onto the next phase because you can give out correct information to your kids. It may also be easier to allow the mother to have the talk with the daughter and the father to have the talk with the son for no other reason but having first-hand knowledge of the male or female body. This isn’t necessary, but it may help build trust between a child and parent of the same gender.
Talk Early and Often
The talk is not a one-time thing, you can’t say everything in one day. If you do, your kids might not grasp onto every single detail. As your child develops and matures in teen years, so should your conversations. You may not realize it at the time, but when you teach your child what certain parts of their body are called and tell them not to show or touch those parts in public, that’s a form of the talk at an early age. If they question you, simply tell them you’ll talk about it in the future. This way they will become comfortable with the idea of talking ahead of time.
Be Open and Honest
When your kids throw a question at you, be sure to answer honestly without scolding or judging them. If you’re not sure of the answer to give, tell them you’ll find out and come back to it at a later date. Honesty creates an environment for trust and friendship with your kids.
Don’t Discredit Love
Understand the importance of romantic attachments in a teenager’s life and the intense feelings they can generate. We know your perspective of love differs from theirs, but try not to use whatever they say or do against them. When your teenager comes home from school talking about a new crush or a new relationship don’t automatically assume this is it, that they’re going to get married tomorrow, move out, and have kids.
Don’t Deny Their Sexuality (or Their Exploration There of)
If the topic of sexuality comes up at any point of time in your child’s life, be accepting. Don’t get mad, don’t get quiet, and don’t end the conversation. Instead, put yourself in their shoes. This is most likely to happen during their teenage years. Imagine that you are in high-school dealing with everyday dramas such as homework, bullies, cliques, crushes, etc. Your feelings for someone of the same sex are building up inside of you and maybe you’ve shared this information with your friends, maybe you haven’t, but you realize that once you leave school you suddenly have to hide those feelings and act “normal”. One day, you’re ready to tell your parents that you may be attracted to the same sex.
Now, put your shoes back on. Imagine the courage your child had to build up to get to this point. They’ve taken weeks, months, sometimes even years to tell you this news. Give them the respect and understanding that they deserve. If you are feeling upset, confused, or angry at their feelings talk about it to your partner, with your friends, or with a professional, not with your child. Once you have a clear mind and some understanding of their sexuality be sure to circle back to this conversation and assure them that you love them and accept them for who they are. It might not seem like a lot, but it can make a huge difference.
Be comfortable talking about sex, don’t laugh or make jokes at their commentary or questions, and offer resources as needed. Remember that it’s never too late or too early to have these conversations. Just put our simple tips into practice and watch your kids get comfortable with having sex talks with you as they grow.