The Birds & The Bees...
Do you remember the first time you heard “The Talk?” Was it uncomfortable? Was it a natural conversation? What were you told about sex? Did you learn about sex at home, at school, from friends, or from the media? What do you wish you had known when you were younger?
No matter how you first learned about sex, if you are a parent, it’s an important conversation to have with your children.
Sex is a part of life. Our relationship with sex is an integral part of our well-being. While many schools now have sex education classes, bringing the conversation into our family home opens the door to communication. It is an opportunity to build a solid foundation of trust with your kids and helps them to understand your value system.
When we provide age-appropriate information, we are setting our kids up for a healthy sexual life in the future. Keeping this door open will be critical as your child moves into adolescence, when the culture around them becomes more sex-focused. But how do we even start the dialogue? At what age? Is it too soon? Is it too late? Is my child learning about sex behind my back at school or from the internet?
Start by always giving honest answers to your child’s questions about sex and their bodies. Pushing questions aside, or acting as though questions about sex are dirty, can lend to an unhealthy body image and view on sex. If you’re surprised by the question, keep in mind that you can always ask them “why do you ask?” or something like that. Sometimes the context we hear is not the context they are coming from.
Young kids, from the moment they learn to speak, will be interested in their bodies and in learning where babies come from. At this age, while it's most important to focus on responding to their questions, you may want to consider these conversation starters if your child has not already asked:
- Do you know which body parts are private? Name their private parts by their anatomically correct names and point out the differences between boys and girls (trust me, they notice!)
- Do you know how to treat those private parts (their own and others) by respecting them and not allowing third parties to touch them? Do you know what to do if that ever happens?
- If you are pregnant, explain to your child that there is a baby inside of you that is growing and that mom and dad put that baby in there (not the stork!)
As children get older the questions may get more difficult, but if you have already begun to set up the space for open, honest conversation it will be much easier. Older, school-aged children tend to ask more detailed questions about how babies are made and why some of their friends have two mommies or two daddies. Or perhaps why Jane calls herself Joe? Questions you may want to ask to get the conversation going are:
- Have you noticed any changes in your body?
- Do your friends talk about boyfriends and girlfriends a lot?
- What have you heard about sex?
- Do you have any questions about sex or how babies are made?
Though your teen and pre-teen may not want to talk to you about sex, it is important to keep the lines of communication open. They are at a point where many changes are happening and may feel like they are being pressured into having sex, or may be at the point where they are wanting to become sexually active and they need to understand that sex is more than just intercourse. Teens may be less likely to ask questions, but try these conversation starters:
- Ask, “What do you think about that?” during TV or movie scenes that depict sexual activities. Use their answers to follow up with more questions.
- Do you know how to prevent pregnancy? Do you know what STIs are and how to prevent them?
- Are you aware of the consequences of sexting or exposing your body in social media?
- How do you feel when you hear your friends talking about sex?
There are so many great books and resources to give more in depth information about talking with your children about sex.
Several that we have seen include:
- Preschool Children: Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts Paperback by Gail Saltz
- Elementary Children: It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families by Robie E Harris
- Junior High: It’s Perfectly Normal for Junior High by Robie E Harris
If you are struggling with opening lines of communication about sex in your home, then check us out next week as we dive deeper with helpful tips on just how to get the birds and the bees conversation moving. You can always follow us on Instagram and Facebook for more tips on how to connect with your kids and keep the healthy conversation going!
Looking for some one on one coaching on the subject? We are here to help. Just email us.