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Most parents dread having “the talk” with their children, mostly because they can’t conceive of their babies becoming young adults and being at an age where sex is a very probable thing. Some parents struggle with how much to tell their children or how much information (they think) their children can handle? Other parents struggle with “when” to broach the subject with their children. Many parents struggle to talk about sex with their children at all for various reasons, including their own sexual baggage.
Like it or not, “the talk” is something every parent should have with their children. For me, as a parent, I would rather my children learn from me and ask me their questions in a safe, loving, judgment-free environment, rather than attempting to learn from the internet, which will lead them to things that could skew their perspective about “healthy” sex and sexual norms. I also prefer they get their information from me as opposed to their me friends who likely don’t know that much about sex either.
One thing we must acknowledge is that every child is different and there is no “right way” to educate them about sex. Many child psychologists recommend speaking to children at an earlier age than you might suspect. The theory being that if you talk to children at an age-appropriate level from the beginning, there may never be a need to have a big “talk.” Instead, you will have a series of small talks with your children that take place over time, which in turn will make you a constant and steady resource for your children and the “go-to” when your child has questions. This will be especially important when children reach the age of sexual exploration and experimentation.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for your talk (or talks):
1.) Use the “proper” names for body parts such as “vagina,” “labia,” and “clitoris” for girls and “penis” and “scrotum” for boys, instead of pet names. When children know and are comfortable using the proper vocabulary for their private body parts, it gives them a line of defense against potential abuse. When children feel awkward speaking about body parts, they may also be uncomfortable asking questions. If you take away the “taboo” feelings around the various terms associated with body parts, the words will instead become a normal part of their vocabulary and this freedom of expression will allow them to feel more comfortable having those conversations, especially with you.
2.) Have resources available. There is nothing like a good book and there are plenty of excellent sex education books out there for all ages, as well as useful and instructive books for parents. When you have no more answers or feel uncomfortable about certain topics and you want your kids to have more answers, find a good book. Here is a list of best-selling books on Amazon for having “the talk” with your kids .
3.) Look for the Teachable moments. If you look for it, everyday life offers plenty of opportunities to talk about sex in a way that makes sense and is appropriate to pursue conversation with your children. Some common examples include:
- When you see a commercial for birth control or condoms, etc.
- When a neighbor, family member, or close friend announces they’re pregnant.
- When you watch news stories or commercials that deal with sexual themes.
- When they play video games that have sexual undertones or promote more adult themes
Medical and childhood development research tells us that kids and teens who have regular ongoing conversations with their parents about sex are much less likely to take risks with their sexual health and are less prone to unhealthy sexual behavior. That means there is no time like the present to start having “the talk” with your children.