If there is one thing that really makes me squirm, it is the thought of talking about sex with my children. Actually, I even hate talking about it with my husband!
Already I have been asked a few innocent questions about where babies come from, which I have managed to avoid answering. But how long can I get away with that?
I also tell myself that parents can duck the subject completely these days because children find out everything from school, the internet, and their friends anyway.
I was never able to talk about sex and intimacy with my parents, and I think I would have been better prepared for my teenage years if I had. And also for my marriage! So should I answer their questions?
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The Sex Talk
Hi, The Sex Talk!
Some children never talk to their parents about sex. But that starts a pattern that continues into adulthood. Because children who did not talk to their parents about sex, rarely talk to their sexual partners about it either.
There are also pressure groups who argue against sex education and say that parents who discuss sex with their children are encouraging promiscuity.
But there is clear evidence that those groups are wrong. And that the best sex education is a conversation with their parents.
Because children who can talk comfortably to their parents about sex tend to have their first sexual experiences later, have less pre-marital sex, fewer partners, and use contraceptives from the word go.
They do not need lots of technical information. It is just having a conversation that counts, especially about your values and opinions. Start talking to them when they are small, by just making time to listen to them whenever necessary.
Never give them a hard time, or criticise them, even if you are worried by what you hear. Otherwise, there might not be a next time.
Make talking about sex feel absolutely normal. So the next time you are asked where babies come from, give a brief, honest, and age-appropriate answer.
And use real names for everything. Referring to the body’s private parts by using silly names tells your children that sex is some sort of taboo.
As your children grow, continue to encourage them to discuss any sex-related topics with you, especially tough ones like birth control and sexual orientation.
With practice, it gets a lot easier. Teach internet safety early, and do not tell yourself that they do not have access. They have friends! Know who your children hang out with, and pay special attention to older friends and talk of romance.
Teens in romantic relationships are much more likely to start having sex, especially with someone who is older than them. Note to pay attention to your child’s concerns, not just your own worries.
Help them understand peer pressure for example, how to get out of difficult situations, and what good relationships feel like. And make sure you also talk to your sons, not just your daughters.
All the best,