Having ‘the talk’ isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Times have changed a lot and it’s still awkward to discuss sex with kids. A good number of those from the older generations had to learn everything on their own so it wasn’t something that was properly understood for some time. In fact, mentioning sex was a taboo.
ALSO READ: What is hysterectomy and why is it done?
But today, parents have a chance to teach their kids by creating a safe space for that discussion.
The talk isn’t just for older kids though. It’s better to teach them about it as soon as they start getting curious about things. Of course, when they’re still young they won’t be able to understand the details all at once but even the simplest explanations are very important.
1. It builds self-awareness
Talking to your child about sex early is a great foundation for self-awareness. They’ll learn about their own bodies and ask questions without feeling embarrassed. Even though the school curriculum covers some aspects of the talk, you shouldn't wait for them to hear it in school. Many students might also just learn for the sake of passing exams. As a parent, you should be the first source of such information so that by the time they’re being taught in school they should have already heard about it from you. When you teach them first you can tailor the information to suit your child instead of the general information they will get out there.
2. It reduces the risk of sexual abuse
Children are often sexually abused when they don’t understand what’s appropriate touching and what’s not. They might also feel ashamed to report these incidences. When you create a rapport with your child and have a safe environment at home where they can talk to you about anything, it will become easier for them to speak up in case of any abuse.
3. They’ll have the correct view on sex
Children also have access to inappropriate websites where they learn about sex. If their parents don’t tell them what it’s all about early, they’ll think there’s nothing more to what they see on the internet. This is dangerous because it will affect their future relationships and behaviour. To avoid that distorted view, you have to educate them about it before they get access to those harmful sources.
4. They’ll have strong personal values in future
When they know about the true purpose of sex and the consequences, they’ll be more comfortable with the decisions they make as far sex is concerned. If they decide to wait until marriage for example, they won’t feel pressured to let their ‘uncool’ values go.
To be honest, many parents dread this conversation for good reason. I mean, can you imagine looking into your children’s eyes and telling them about penetration? Well, it’s not impossible. Just remember this:
i. Overcome the awkwardness
The awkwardness will be there especially if it’s the first time you’re having the talk and they’re already approaching puberty. Either way a little anxiety shouldn’t get in the way of this important step in their lives.
ii. Get on their level
You don’t have to struggle to find the right words. Make use of educational videos, books and other tools to help you explain to them in a way they’ll understand.
iii. Review the talk often
When you educate them early, they’ll feel more comfortable communicating openly with you as they grow older. You’ll have a chance to find out what they’ve learnt about it so far and give your input as well.