When Should You Talk To Your Kids About Sex and Birth Control?
Since I was pregnant with my first daughter, I've often thought about how I will talk to her about sex someday. Although she hasn't put two and two together just yet, I know that someday (maybe when she reads my book?) she will realize that not everyone is pregnant on their wedding day like her mother was.
I know that I want to be open and honest with her about my journey in having her, and most of all, I want her to always have an open and honest relationship with me.
But when should that open and honest conversation about sex go down? I don't even want to imagine it.
CNN recently reported that the majority of teenagers say that they skip using birth control out of fear of their parents finding out, which points to the fact that maybe, as parents, we need to be having the discussion about sex in a different manner.
No matter how (or when) you approach the conversation, the experts advise simply being clear. Even if you say something like, “We think you should wait until marriage,” it's a starting point so your teen knows what you think, and the discussion can go from there.
So is there a “magic” age to start the discussion? I don't think so, but because I'm a nurse, I'm a big believer in approaching the conversation in a basic way — from the frame of how our bodies work or how babies are born — in ways children can understand.
For me, it's important to me that my daughters know exactly how their bodies and their fertility works. Knowledge is power, and I want them to understand exactly how their cycles work and how they could get pregnant if they have sex. Although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recently released the recommendation that teens use IUDs for birth control, I don't agree with that blanket statement at all. It doesn't make sense to me to fill my daughter's body with hormones to suppress her natural cycle, especially while she is still developing. So instead, I hope to focus on the basics of how our bodies work.
It makes sense, in my mind, to start the conversation when my children go through puberty, and I hope to make my expectations clear, ensuring that no matter how much my children cringe, they understand their own bodies and what is normal, and understand that they can always — always — come to me with questions in the future.
What do you think is the right age to start talking to kids about sex?