teachkidsaboutsex_inside1.jpg"Mommy, where do babies come from?" For most mothers, this question makes inner alarm bells clang. After all, it's not a simple question like "Can I have more ice cream" or "Can I go to Mark's house to play?" And answering it opens a Pandora's box of questions related to the dreaded three-letter-word: sex.

Parents may have a difficult time understanding where kids are coming from. There's always the worry that your child will misunderstand or that you won't be able to explain things correctly. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, but these statements serve as a guide to make sure you get the right message across.


STATEMENT #1: LET'S GET IT RIGHT DOWN TO THE FACTS--NOW!

The message: Your children can come to you for honest answers anytime.

It is better for parents to answer their children's questions--whether about sexuality or their bodies--honestly from the very beginning. Explain it to them in straightforward but simple terms. Such conversations should be taken in stride, not postponed. Answer your child as soon as he asks the question. Parents will find that children are receptive to information about sexuality when the answers to these are honest and straightforward.

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(Photo by michaelespinosa via Flickr Creative Commons)

teachkidsaboutsex_inside2.jpgSTATEMENT #2: BOYS HAVE A PENIS; GIRLS HAVE A VAGINA.

The message: It is not taboo to talk about body parts. The male and female sexual organs, in particular, serve a purpose.

At three or four years old, children already begin to notice the differences between themselves and the opposite sex. It is at this stage that children become curious and like to "play doctor" or "play house" with their friends. They play these games wih the opposite sex because they try to delineate who look like them and those who do not. Boys find out that fellow boys look similar and, in contrast, girls look different. Such games should be no cause for alarm, as long as the children are of the same age range and exhibit behavior appropriate for play.

Additionally, there is nothing wrong with giving these body parts nicknames, as long as children are not misled about their sex organs.


STATEMENT #3: PEOPLE IN LOVE NEED PHYSICAL CONTACT TO SHOW HOW THEY FEEL.

The message: Sex is a beautiful thing. Don't let wrong information mislead you--or be imparted to your child.

Much of the content on TV shows nowadays are not exempt from sexial behavior--be it simple kissing or making love. You should choose programs and movies that are appropriate for children. It is even better if you can watch these shows with your kids so you can immediately explain what is portrayed on a particular show.

Parents need to be vigilant and know that these kinds of scenarios will show up in mediums like the Internet and even print. Children should be comfortable enough to ask their parents when they have questions about sex. Parents need to be open and honest about these things. The most important thing is that you don't give sexual organs and sex malicious or dirty connotations. You should make your explainations factual.

No parent looks forward to giving her child the "sex talk." But rather than have them be led astray or be misinformed, it falls upon you to prepare your kids as best as you can because, inevitably, the circle of life continues.

(First published in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Good Family section as "The Birds, The Bees, and Kids" in April 2007; photo by nt is her via Flickr Creative Commons; adapted for use in Female Network.)
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