Sex is a part of our lives and nothing will ever change that so rather than sweeping talking about sex with your children under the rug, open the lines of communication so that your kids feel comfortable about coming to you with questions. Don’t just assume that your child will develop a healthy sexual attitude on their own – if you don’t talk to them about it then they’ll likely get their information from friends or social media, which let’s face it, is saturated with sexual innuendo.
Here are some tips for the making that talk a little easier on everyone involved:
Firstly, be brave. If you don’t want your children to learn about sex from their friends then you need to bite the bullet and talk to them about it before anyone else does – kind of like working on a clean slate.
Prepare yourself as much as possible by learning about certain topics if you’re not sure about them yourself. Get familiar with puberty, STDs, menstruation, reproduction and contraception because the more you know, the more confident you’ll be in discussing it with your child. If they discover that you know nothing about STDs, for example, then they may assume that it’s not important.
Talk to your children gradually about sex, don’t just dump everything on them in one hour-long talk which they will likely come away from feeling extremely overwhelmed. Age-appropriate information can start from as young as three when they’re asking about why they look different from their brother or sister, or perhaps when they’re ten they’ll ask how the baby got inside mummy’s tummy. It is up to you how much information you pass on but remember that once they’re teenagers they’ll get the information from elsewhere anyway, so honesty is the best policy as they get older. At some point when your child is a teenager you will of course need to have the definitive talk about sex. You’ll know when the time is right by gauging your child’s maturity.
Talking about sex should be a two-way street – a casual discussion, not a lecture, so don’t demand that your child share your beliefs or argue that their opinions are wrong. Having civilised discussions about sex will ensure that your child feels as though they can come to you and chat whenever they need. If you force your opinions on them and threaten them with punishment if they step out of line, like falling pregnant at a young age for example, you can almost guarantee that they won’t come to you to ask about anything to do with sex again.
If you or your child are just too embarrassed to talk to each other about sex then consider asking a trusted friend of family member to talk to your child instead. Perhaps they have a great relationship with their aunt or uncle or maybe even a great family friend with whom they can relate. See if they have any more luck with a discussion than you’ve had.
Most importantly don’t give up. Talking about sex can be embarrassing for some people, but if you try having little conversations from time to time it should eventually become easier. Not only will you have equipped your kids with valuable information, but your relationship will most likely thrive because of it. If they know they can come to you and talk about such a sensitive topic, it’s reassuring them that they can talk to you about anything.
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