Let’s Talk (to our kids) About Sex
Last week, we asked a question on the Community Chalkboard: “What is something you do NOT want to talk about with your kids just yet?” While I expected to see some similarities in the answers, I was surprised by how many parents answered with one thing: sex.
I can’t say for sure how often or how much my parents told me about sex. What I can say is that I learned exactly what it was – in very graphic detail – from a boy down the street when I was in second grade. What does that have to do with you talking to your kids? If you aren’t talking to your kids about sex, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning about it. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone run off and explain to their seven year olds the exact mechanics of intercourse. However, I do think that sex is a conversation that you can’t wait to begin.
Sex is everywhere – and I don’t just mean reality television and celebrity scandals. Adding a new sibling into the family, private time and physical affection for mom and dad, and discovering that boys have penises and girls have vaginas are all a part of a child’s ongoing sex education. As the American Academy of Pediatrics points out, “You need to become comfortable with these discussions as early as possible, so that you can lay a firm educational foundation and establish a pattern of openness and easy dialogue before puberty.”
We want our kids to learn all sorts of things: honesty, integrity, independence, and the ability to make good decisions. If we want them to make good decisions about their bodies – whether that means knowing how to deal with an adult that makes them feel uncomfortable or knowing that they don’t have to have sex with someone to be loved – they won’t learn it if we aren’t teaching it.
As an adult, I’ve grown to have a very open relationship with my parents. Now that we're all adults, I've gotten to the point where I can talk to them about anything – even (gasp!) sex. My mother never got to that point with her own parents. I’m hoping that I can stay there with my children. Yes, I talk to them about sex. We talk about the parts that make them boys and girls, that a daddy has to give a mommy a seed to grow a baby, and that you never have to let anyone touch you if you don’t want them to (and it’s always okay to say NO). For now, it’s enough. When it isn’t, we’ll talk some more. There may not be a more embarrassing or challenging subject to tackle, but there may not be a more important one, either.
So, are you already having the conversation? If not, when will you begin?