As a guardian, you want to do your best in talking with your child about sex and sexuality, but often you may not be sure how to begin. Studies show that kids who feel they can talk with caring adults in their lives about sex are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than kids who do not feel they can talk openly about the subject. So, explore your feelings about sex.
If you are very uncomfortable with the subject, read some books and dicuss your feelings with atrusted friend, relative, physician or clergy member. The more you examine the subject, the more confident you’ll feel discussing it.
1. Start early.
2. Initiate conversations with your child.
3….Even about sex and sexuality.
4. Create an open environment.
5. Communicate your own values.
6. Listen to your child.
7. Try to be honest.
8. Be patient.
9. Use everyday opportunities to talk.
10. Talk about it again. And, again.
Even if you can’t quite overcome your discomfort, don’t worry about admitting it to your child. It’s okay to say something like, “You know, I’m uncomfortable talking about sex because my parents never talked with me about it. But I want us to be able to talk about anything—including sex—so please come to me if you have any questions. And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out.”
Teaching your child about sex demands a gentle, continuous flow of information that should begin as early as possible—for instance, when teaching your toddler where his nose and toes are, include “this is your penis” or “this is your vagina” in your talks. As your child grows, you can continue adding more materials gradually until he or she understands the subject well.
While children need to know the biological facts about sex, they also need to understand that sexual relationships involve caring, concern and responsibility. By discussing the emotional aspect of a sexual relationship, they will be better informed to make decisions later on and to resist peer pressure. If your child is a pre-teen, you need to include some message about the responsibilities and consequences of sexual activity. Conversations with 11- and 12-year-olds, for example, should include talks about unwanted pregnancy and how they can protect themselves.
One aspect that many parents overlook when discussing sex with their child is dating. As opposed to movies, where two people meet and later end up in bed together, in real life there is time to get to know each other—time to hold hands, go bowling, see a movie, or just talk. Children need to know that this is an important part of a caring relationship. It’s our responsibility as guardians to let our children know our values about sex. Although they may not adopt these values as
they mature, at least they’ll be aware of them as they struggle to gure out how they feel and want to behave. Talk about sex in a way that ts the age and stage of your child. And don’t worry about knowing all the answers to your child’s
questions. What you know is a lot less important than how you respond. If you can convey the message that no subject, including sex, is forbidden in your home, you’ll be doing just fine.
For more tips on how to talk with your kid about sex and other tough issues, please visit Talking with Kids About
Tough Issues, a campaign brought to you by Children Now, at www.talkingwithkids.org.