Why the Sex Talk With Kids Isn’t a One Time Thing

Teaching Kids About Sex and Online Safety
Image adapted via iStock

One thing I think a lot of parents don't realize when they say things like “I need to have the sex talk with my kids” is that the sex talk isn't A sex talk. It's multiple conversations over multiple years. It's not a one time deal. 

Let's be honest here, shall we? It's a lot of details and information to share with a kid all in one shot, so if you wait until they are old enough to grasp everything you're saying, I feel you have waited too long. FAR too long. 

It's such a tough topic! It's hard to know how much is too much with kids. I still have to remind myself not to get flustered when my kids ask honest questions. Here are some thoughts and tips when thinking about how to talk to your kids about sex: 

1. “The” Sex Talk Should Happen All the Time

I was in an online group of parents and one of the moms posted a panicked sounding message that her ten year old had asked some questions and she was upset and didn't know what to say. “I put him off for now but I know the topic is going to come up again.” 

If you are not proactively teaching your child about these types of things, someone else is. Or they are trying to figure it out for themselves. When the top search terms for kids 8-12 include porn and sex, you cannot afford to wait until junior high to bring it up.

I felt bad for that child. In my home, we have a philosophy in our parenting that if our children are asking an honest question, they deserve an age-appropriate answer. I really like what fellow EF blogger Amanda says about making the talk ongoing. See The Awkward Moms Guide to Sex Talk for some good thoughts on that subject. Amanda says, “There are some things that made ‘The Talk' slightly easier for us, because we had a history of general openness. “

 I agree with this whole-heartedly. Her hint that there's a history of general openness makes me think that they weren't waiting until middle school ages to have conversations. I hear some parents say, of their 8 or 9 year olds, “Thank goodness I don't have to worry about that for awhile.” but I think that is a mistake. Here's why:

2. Your Kids Are Wondering About Sex Before You Think They Are

In 2009 Symantec released search results from their Norton Online Family monitoring software. Because of the nature of the user profiles they were able to show age-demographic results in their search terms. The results are STARTLING. “Porn” is a top ten search term for 7 and under. Top 5 for 8-12 year olds. Moms – if you think you have until middle school to have this discussion you are sorely mistaken. 

{ MORE: Questions begin early! Read My Child Asked Where Babies Come From }

Led by our children's observations and natural questions, we recently had the first of many “sex talks” around the breakfast table because of questions from my 4 year old. We had recently hatched some chicken eggs and after the science study of that experiment we had many questions. The conversation went like this: 

“Mom, I have a question. Why do chicken eggs need a rooster for them to hatch, if they are laid by the hen?”

“Because an egg has to be fertilized to make a baby chicken. Babies take a mom and a dad.”

“How does that work?”

“Like plants. Remember the show we watched about plants being fertilized? It's a similar process for animals too except it's called mating.”

Evan chimed in at this point. “Like Papa's bull mates with the cows so they can have babies?” 

“Yes. Just like that.” 

“But they don't have pollen?”

“No. They have special cells called sperm. When the sperm meets the egg inside the mommy it becomes fertilized and can turn into a baby.”

*pauses as they finish setting the breakfast table.* 

Brianna asked, “And that works for humans too? That's why a baby needs a mommy and a daddy? To fertilize the egg with the sperm like mating cows?” “Yep. It's very similar for humans and other mammals like cows.”

Hey we are a country family, what can I say? But really, animals can be an excellent introduction and give children a mental connection for easier understanding. Or flowers if that's less intimidating for you. But if you are waiting to introduce them to the concepts of sex and puberty and relationships all at the same time you are going to overwhelm them. Or probably waited way too long. They've already wondered and tried to fill in the blanks themselves – or worse…asked another child. 

What do you think?

Why the Sex Talk With Kids Isn’t a One Time Thing

Angela England is a renaissance woman who doesn't let five children stop her from many pursuits, interests and tasks. Angela is a freelance writer, professional blogger, speaker, labor doula, massage therapist and can usually be found with a coffee nearby. Angela recently published her first book, Backyard Farming on an Acre (more or less) and has since published her first Untrained Housewife Guide - Getting Prepared. ... More

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