The one talk that every parent dreads having with their child: sex. Too many parents do not know when the appropriate age is to start sexual education. The more curious your kids are, the more they will seek out the information elsewhere, including from their peers. This will lead to misinformation. It is better to have the sex talk with your children when they begin asking about it. Of course, depending on their age, you only need so much detail. This is super important, because the more your child or teenager knows, then the more likely they will make good choices involving sex, such as protection use. Do not simply leave sex health up to the school system.
It all begins when your child asks, “Where do babies come from?” When you start talking about your child’s genitals, it is important to use their proper names. “Penis” and” vagina” should be used, and not cutesy names. This will help your child express if their genitals hurt, or if they are having issues with them. Talk about both boundaries and propriety, especially involving other people. It is important for them to know what is appropriate and what is not. Starting these talks early with clear information should combat harassment.
When it is time for the “where do babies come from” talk, be general. Simply say that dad has sperm and mom has an egg, and when they come together, they make a baby. At this age, that should suffice.
Around the age of 8, children can explore touching their genitals or start masturbation. This is a good time to start talking to them about sexual abuse, and that masturbation is okay as long as it is done in private. You can build upon earlier conversations.
This is also a good time to start talking about sex and its procreative qualities, explaining in further detail that a penis goes into the vagina, and that is how the sperm meets the egg to create a baby. Also, explain that sex is not limited to just a man and woman, but rather between two consenting adults. It gives the child a more knowledgable idea of sex, without exposing them to too much.
Your child will hit puberty during these years and will experience A LOT of emotions and physical changes. Research estimates that 90 percent of children today first learn about sex through viewing pornography. Other research reveals that a child’s first exposure to porn happens around nine years old. Because this age group has more freedom online, be sure to talk about internet safety. You can also bring up birth control and safe sex around this age. It is
better to be informed by you than misinformed by peers and porn that previews unrealistic expectations. Let your children know that porn is solidly a fantasy, and not just an instructional tool, so they do not rely on it. The talk around this age will better prepare your child for situations as they become older, and help make better decisions.
Do not describe sex as a forbidden fruit. This can foster negative views on sex as a rebellious tool. Instead, focus on these ideas:
- Explain that when the time is right, it is okay, as long as it is chosen wisely.
- Reinforce the meaning of consent.
- Explain the use of protection in order to prevent pregnancy and STIs.
Many parents think that if you have the safe sex talk with teenagers that it gives them permission to have sex. This is false. The more information you give to your child about it, the more likely they can better assess and judge a situation. Express the importance of safe sex, as well as the consequences of not being safe.
Having the sex talk is not easy with anyone, especially with your own child. It is awkward and uncomfortable. However, for the sake of your children, it has to be done, and the earlier, the better. Be open to the conversation, and be honest. By providing your child with the correct information as they grow, the more you help them develop healthy intimate relationships. Break the silence, and communicate with your children, No one has their best interest as much as you do. Have the talk early and often.