My tweens were watching a TV show the other day and there was a girl around their age who was totally mortified and trying very hard to avoid having ‘the talk’ with her parents.
My kids were confused at first, they had no idea what that term referred to, but they figured out pretty quickly that it had something to do with sex, and that it was terribly embarrassing.
“What’s ‘the talk’??” they asked me later, and they seemed even more confused after I tried to explain it.
“Why would they do that??” they asked, incredulous, and to be honest I really don’t know.
I have absolutely no intention of ever giving my kids the ‘sex talk’
Why am I never going to give my kids the ‘sex talk’?
It’s not that I am embarrassed, or scared.
It’s not that I am avoiding it because it’s awkward, or because I don’t know what to say
It’s not that I think my kids are too young.
It’s not that I think kids shouldn’t be taught about puberty and sex…
It’s just that I don’t think teaching our kids about sexuality and their bodies should be done in a stilted ‘one off’ talk when our kids suddenly turn a certain age and magically become ‘ready’.
I think we need to talk to our kids about puberty and sex naturally, over time, starting when they are little.
We need to be open to answering questions, bringing up the topic and discussing it whenever it occurs, then there will be no need for the awkward, often confusing, sudden deluge of information that is ‘the talk’.
That doesn’t mean we need to talk about ‘sex’ with a three year old, but you if you can provide honest, age appropriate, correct, information from a young age, then the topic just becomes part of life, and by the time your child is old enough to learn about the specifics of adult sex it’s not a huge, embarrassing or taboo topic, in fact it’s really not that big of a deal.
By the time our kids were old enough for ‘the talk’ they already had a good understanding of how the human body works, what puberty is, and how reproduction works. Those conversations set the stage for more in depth things like relationships, pornography, sexism, oral sex, contraception, STDs, sexting etc. As well as more personal conversations about how they are feeling and how they are coping with changes.
The fact that we’ve always talked about this stuff also cultivates a culture of conversation. Our kids are much more likely to ask us questions or start a conversation, even if it is a little embarrassing, because they know we will do our best to answer them, honestly, any time.
And there’s one other glaring problem with having ‘the talk’, talking about puberty and sex in isolation doesn’t work well.
Puberty and sex are part of the much broader life experiences of growing up, having relationships and working out who we are. If the only time we ever talk about sex is when we sit out kids down for a one off, embarrassing, lecture about how sex works, how do we teach them about being respectful in a relationship? Or about standing up for themselves? Or about consent and boundaries? Or about difference and acceptance? Or about emotional intimacy? Or about making the right choices for themselves? Or about values? Or about how all these things relate to sex and their bodies and their lives?
Sex is a big topic, you can’t even hope to cover it all in one conversation.
We need to talk about these things, a lot, again and again, whenever they pop up, so our kids grow up knowing not only the factual information, but also how to apply it within their own values and their lives.
I know talking about sex can seem scary and awkward and much easier put off for a later date, but don’t. I promise you it is easier to start small and early, rather than try to tackle this enormous subject in one hit later on.
If you are not sure where or how to start, start with information. Arm yourself with information about what to say, when, and how, and think about how it all fits in with your family’s values, so you are not having to come up with answers on the fly.
Here are a few resources that might be helpful when it comes to talking to your kids about sex:
- 5 Things Every Parent Should Know Before Talking to Kids About Sex
- My Kid Needs to Know What? An Age By Age Guide to Sex Education – And What to Do!
- Age-by-age guide to talking to kids about sex
- Top 10 Sex Ed Books for the Modern Parent
- How to Talk To Your Tween About Puberty
- Parents need to talk to their daughters about the joys of sex, not just the dangers
- Planned Parenthood – Resources for Parents.
How do you tackle this sometimes difficult subject?
Do you have any great resources or ideas to share? Leave a comment below and tell me how you tackle the whole ‘sex talk’ thing.