Having the “birds and the bees” talk with our children can cause us a lot of anxiety and fear. It’s natural for parents to panic when it comes to addressing sex with our sons and daughters. Unfortunately, if we fail to have this important talk with our kids we are opening them up to potential problems involving sexual exploration and unhealthy sexual relationships.
Listed below are 10 tips on the right way we should talk to our kids regarding sex:
1. Be calm. Children will naturally be uncomfortable addressing this subject. They will feed off our anxiety and may develop a fear of openly talking about their curiosity or issues they face. Take a deep breath and count to ten. Everything will be alright.
2. Practice. Having a talk about sex with our kids can be uncomfortable for both parties. It might be a good idea to run through the discussion in your head or write down an outline so you don’t forget details before you sit down with your child.
3. Remember sex is natural. Sex is a beautiful gift between a committed, married couple. If we make sex sound dirty, we are sending a message that sex is bad which could complicate a child’s future relationships and outlook on sex.
4. Keep it simple. Base the amount of info you share on the age of child you are addressing. Young children naturally are curious about where babies come from or why her body is different from her brother’s. At this age, a simple answer will suffice. As a child grows, you will need to expand your definitions.
5. Be the first to teach your child about sex. As a child nears puberty, his or her friends will be intrigued about sex. Be proactive and educate your child about what changes to expect. Around adolescence, sit down and explain the intimate act of sex. If we fail to address sex correctly, our children might be confused and seek information from unreliable sources like peers or the internet. If they are uninformed they may also experiment, exposing them to sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancies, bad reputations, and dangerous relationships.
6. Use scientific terms. Many parents will give body parts cute nicknames or avoid correctly teaching the basic fundamentals. Be specific and use appropriate terminology. If needed, download materials or check out a book from the local library to help.
7. Don’t forget about technology. Surprisingly, experts now view sexting as a normal part of growing up. We live in a digital environment and need to address ways our children can protect their digital bodies as well as their physical ones. Have a sexting talk and empower kids with tools to navigate requests and peer pressure to send a racy selfie.
8. Listen. Avoid doing all the talking. Your child may have questions and misconceptions about the ins and outs of sexual intercourse. Hear what they are saying and calmly explain the answers.
9. Keep the conversation going. Every now and then, touch base to see if our kids have anything they want to discuss. Make sure they know you are there for them and no topic should be off limits. Hopefully, if a child encounters a scary situation or has questions they will come to you for answers.
10. Model a healthy attitude toward sex. Our children are watching and taking mental notes of how we behave. If they notice we avoid the topic of sex or treat it as something negative, we could be setting our kids up for risky behaviors. Be aware of the message our reactions and relationships are sending and how they can influence a child’s future.
Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. @AmyKWilliams1
Publication date: February 2, 2016