When it comes to sex education, many parents dread having “the talk” but it’s important that you explain something this important to your child instead of leaving them to find out from other sources. It’s important that children are able to come to their parents about things such as this and that the parent is a stable source for the child to come to.
You’re not alone if the thought of talking to your child about sex makes you uncomfortable. In fact, most parents will admit that this is an uncomfortable topic of discussion for them. However, it’s very important that you get past your discomforts and learn to talk with your child about sex education.
When to Have “the Talk”
It can be difficult for many parents to know when to have the talk about sex education. As a general rule, you should begin to talk about it when your child begins to ask questions. However, remember that children will ask at different ages, and you need to be aware of their maturity level and previous knowledge before divulging more information than they may be ready for at that time.
When you talk with your child, what you say will depend on his age and maturity level and what he is ready to hear at this particular point in his life. Basically, parents should be prepared for having multiple talks with their children about sex education.
Early conversations may just be about the differences between boys and girls and the different body parts. You may talk with a young child about privacy and the importance of keeping private parts to themselves. Talking about the physical mechanics of sex, erections, menstruation and other things at this age will confuse and possibly even frighten a young child.
However, it’s also important to have talked about these things before your child comes of the age to experience them for themselves.
How to Have “the Talk”
Now that you know when you should have the talk about sex education, how do you go about it? Many parents have difficulty knowing how they are supposed to talk about sex with their children.
The most important thing to remember is to keep it simple and to the point. Remain calm and answer questions openly and honestly. Allow your child to set the pace for the conversation by asking questions that you can provide the answers. This way, you do not have to divulge more than your child may be willing to hear and understand at this point.
As your child grows older, you will need to set healthy boundaries regarding your sex talks. For example, how would you like your child to approach you if and when he or she decides to have sex? Do you encourage your child not to have sex until marriage? Would you help your child with contraceptives or other sexual tools and protection?
What if your young adult child wants to talk with you about certain aspects of their sexual life? Are you comfortable with these types of conversations? Most experts will agree that parents should not discuss recreational sex with a young child or teenager who may get the impression that you are condoning causal sex.
However, what about when your child is older or even when they get married? Are you comfortable talking about sex then? If not, you need to make sure your child is aware of the boundaries you put in place and what you are and are not comfortable talking about.
Tips to Remember
Here are some more things for you to remember when it comes to sex education and having “the talk” with your child:
• Use scientific/medical names for body parts instead of pet names or nicknames (i.e. “penis” instead of “wee-wee” or “pee-pee”).
• Be honest when your child asks questions – giving false or made-up answers can lead to serious problems with your child later on. It can also create feelings of distrust between you and your child.
• Get informed- if you’re unsure of how certain things work, educate yourself before having the talk with your child. You want to be able to answer questions accurately and honestly.
• Don’t be afraid to use tools- there are now many tools available to help parents when it’s time to have “the talk”. Don’t be afraid to make use of these tools if you need help explaining things to your child.
With these tips in mind, you are better prepared to have the talk with your children when the time comes.