Sex is a sensitive topic most parents dread to discuss with their children. Dispel your fears and communicate with your kids in five easy ways.
Explain things early on.
No, we’re not asking you to describe the details of the act. Instead, address the questions your kids might have about their reproductive organs and their sexuality as early as possible. Questions could range from “How come I have a penis and my sister doesn’t?” to “Mom, what are breasts for?” to “Where do babies come from?”
Keep things simple.
When presented with a query, respond in short, straightforward terms. Remember to consider what your child can understand given his age and level of maturity–this Planned Parenthood guide lists the different things your kids need to know at every stage of their development. Answer without hesitation, shame, or malice. This will relay the message that there is nothing he can’t ask you. When he asks something you don’t know the answer to, be honest and tell him “I don’t know” then try to find the answers together.
Initiate talks frequently.
Even though you’ve established a healthy rapport with your child, there are some things he’ll be too embarrassed to discuss—especially when he has hit adolescence. Be the first to admit you’re equally nervous about having the talk with him and laugh it off. You can also use the media (when listening to hit songs or watching TV shows) to bring up sexuality-related topics. In the end, it’s best if the truth comes from you than from a celluloid scene that’s still open to misinterpretation.
Instill good values.
By the age of three to four, you’ll notice your child “playing doctor,” undressing to show his body, or fondling his genitals during emotional moments resulting from stress or exhaustion. By age five to seven, he’ll be more aware of his body and the need for privacy while he’s bathing or dressing up. Masturbation is a natural way for children to explore their bodies, but you should address the matter delicately depending on your family’s religion and values. Aside from talking to him about it, set consistent, non-verbal examples that will lead him to behave accordingly.
Keep him informed.
Whether it’s discussing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or explaining wet dreams, you can let go of the fear that talking to your child about these things will make him rush out to do the deed. According to this article on Sexualityandu.ca, studies have revealed that teens who openly discuss sex with their parents tend to be sexually active at an older age and have safer, more responsible intercourse. Now isn’t that a relief?
For more tips and insights for having “the talk,” check out “Kids, the Birds, and the Bees” by Mari-An Santos, published in the April 2007 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, and the children’s book First Comes Love by Jennifer Davis.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)