Are you avoiding “the talk” with your kids? Are you feeling clueless as to when to talk about it or what to say. Join the club! That is why I have invited therapist and best-selling author, Waverly Hanson to help give us some guidance.
Everyone has different belief systems around this hot topic – but one thing is for sure – kids need to be educated on all areas. If we don’t educate them – someone else will. Yikes! Here are her tips.
The day has come that every parent dreads – it’s time to talk about the birds and the bees with that over-anxious tween who barely listens unless you’re offering her a ride to the movies or handing him some money for video games.
What are you going to say to them? How are they going to react? Before you go and hang your head in shame or hide behind a stiff cup of coffee for hours on end contemplating this conversation, take a deep breath, and consider how a good understanding of the basics can help you along.
Why Talk About Sex At Home?
Picture this – your child is sitting in a classroom, filled with other pre-pubescent tweens and hearing all the facts about the birds and the bees.
It sounds a bit frightening, doesn’t it?
What if the teacher explains it wrong? What if the kid sitting next to your daughter knows more than she does and decides to do a little sharing of his own? How will you convince your child to share with you what he has learned in more than one-word sentences?
The problem with letting a school program teach your children about this kind of thing is that they may not cover it the way you want them to. For instance, you might think discussing birth control is very important, or you may prefer to cover abstinence first and only the basics when it comes to condoms or pills.
There’s also the fact that you are someone that your child can talk to about this and trust it will be kept between you and them. Trust me, even if your child never says a word, they know who to turn to when the going gets tough, and a trusted parent always tops the list.
They may not want to talk with their teachers because asking questions with peers in the room simply isn’t viewed as “cool.” Eleven and twelve year olds have a hard enough time opening up to a teacher, imagine what that feels like when they feel as if they’re being stared down or they’re asking the question that the cheerleaders and football players all know the answers to.
Your home environment is a private and safe one, and that makes it easier for a child to open up and ask about everything from periods to first kisses to intercourse and beyond.
How Do You Bring The “Talk” Up?
Unlike asking your child about what she had for lunch or how his after-school soccer game went, talking about sex is tough. It might make you feel embarrassed or awkward, but it’s something that’s really important to do. The best time to have this conversation is before your son needs to shave or your daughter first experiences “that time of the month.”
If you miss this window of opportunity, definitely make it a point to sit down before your son mentions a girlfriend or your daughter starts bragging about the long-haired, biker boyfriend that every parent dreads. Your conversation has the potential to positively influence some future choices and frame the way your child thinks about a relationship.
Don’t be afraid to approach this subject with your kids. After all, every human being is the product of sex. You want them to be able to have healthy relationships with others, and, as you know from being young yourself, there is really no way to stop a person from thinking about sex. It’s a normal part of life and needs to be talked about honestly.
If you shy away from this topic or make your child feel embarrassed to talk about it, they could end up going behind your back and having problems in life with relationships, sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy.
What Do You Discuss?
There are a lot of things to discuss with a young person that has no experience with sex. Several great books cover the topics well, outlining them to make it easier for parents to remember the most important points when their brain goes to mush and their cheeks are feeling a little flushed.
If you won’t be using a book, make a list, and use it as your guide. It will give you something to reference especially if you get stumped and have a hard time covering all that your child needs to know.
Your child needs to know about condoms and how to use them properly. Girls can also be taught about birth control pills or injections – both what these methods of birth control can and cannot prevent.
While you’re on this topic, it’s important to be factual. Discuss the ramifications of teenage pregnancy and the pitfalls of sexually transmitted diseases. You might scare your child just a little, but if you scare them away from making a negative, life-changing mistake, you’ve certainly done right by them.
Anyone can get an STD if they do not practice safe sex. It may be a good idea to pull some images up on the computer to share with your child to illustrate the dangers of not using protection when engaging in sex. The images will provide a dash of shock value, and they might make an eager, pre-pubescent child re-think some of their future actions.
Answer questions truthfully, and consider including diseases spread by both oral and vaginal sex since many kids make the mistake of thinking that oral sex is safe or not really sex at all.
What about when your child is approached by someone older than them for a sexual relationship? When you have a kid in high school, some of the older kids will be above the age of consent. That, or your child may be 18 and not know that it’s illegal to be with people below a certain age. This can lead to jail time and a criminal record.
It’s also wise to talk about abusive situations and what to do if someone is sexually inappropriate or your child ever feels uncomfortable about how they are being touched or talked to.
Check out the below article for more on this topic:
Sex is necessary to talk about because everyone deals with it in their lives. Teens are going to go through changes and eventually start dating, and they need to know how to stay safe and make educated choices. Remember, knowledge is power, so tackle this now so it doesn’t become a problem later!
Waverly Hanson is the best-selling author of How to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage: Stop Marriage Pain, Start Reconnecting available on Amazon in print and Kindle formats. She has been assisting individuals and couples with relationship and life transformations for more than 25 years as a therapist, counselor, coach and consultant. Visit her website at www.marriagecounselingonline.mywebpal.com
Do you know some other parents struggling with this topic? Share!