Talking to your kids about sex is difficult, uncomfortable
and awkward. It is for every parent. You are not alone in feeling this way. I know it would be easier to just skip this part of parenting altogether and pretend your child does not need to hear about sex from you. After all, it will be just as uncomfortable for him as it is for you.
But I want to challenge you to avoid this temptation of skipping “The Talk” with your child. Because if you don’t teach your child about sex, someone else will.
Parents have the power to get in front of the ongoing conversation about sex with their kids.
This is inevitable. Your child is going to hear about sex eventually. And probably much earlier than you think.
But from whom? Only time can tell, but it may be a classmate who hears about sex from her older sister. It could be a television show. It could be the internet. It could be their sex ed teacher in middle school. In our culture today, we are bombarded with talk and messages about sex all the time, and your child will be educated on it one day, in one way or another. But be encouraged, moms and dads! You have
the power to get in front of the ongoing conversation and control the message IF you’re proactive.
No one has a greater influence over your child than you. For the rest of her life, what you say and do will mean more to her than what she sees a friend or coach or mentor say and do. Her attachment to you was formed from birth and that attachment is always there in one form or another. This is why you must be the one to answer your child’s questions about sex. Because if you don’t, the culture will. And considering the over-sexualized culture we live in today, you certainly do not want the culture teaching your child its own version of what they need to know about sex.
IF YOU DON’T TEACH YOUR CHILD ABOUT SEX, THE CULTURE WILL.
For a lot of parents, “the talk” looks more like a lot of “little talks” along the way, and being prepared for all those conversations is important. I strongly recommend establishing yourself early on as the go-to person for your child when it comes to sex- related topics, even before you have “the talk”. The sooner you establish yourself as a safe, trusted place for your child’s questions about their bodies and sex, the more likely they are to come to you about what they hear from their friends, on television and in movies as they get older. Let them know that they are going to hear some pretty crazy things from friends that may confuse them. Tell them when they hear things that are strange, disturbing or unusual, they should come to you for an explanation. Remind them that you want to hear those things and that you like answering their questions.
You may be thinking, “That’s not true. I don’t like answering my child’s questions about sex AT ALL.” I understand this feeling. I have four children of my own. But not wanting to talk to our kids about sex typically comes from a lack of preparation or understanding as to how to go about the conversation.
As a pediatrician, I have spoken to hundreds of parents who are afraid to have “the talk” with their child because they have no idea what to say. What do I say? What do I not say? What words do I use? When are they old enough? What if they have more questions? These are all absolutely normal questions and concerns nearly every parents has.
To meet this need, I’ve created a toolkit that includes everything you need to know about having “the talk” with your child. It is called, simply enough: How to Have “The Talk” with Your Child.
I developed this toolkit to help calm every fear you may have around talking to your child about sex. This digital parenting resource includes:
- A downloadable ebook
- An Age/Stage Chart to help you know what to say and when
- A How & When To Have The Talk FAQ sheet
- A “How To Have The Talk” script
- And, for those of you who just can’t bring yourself
to do it, a video where I actually give the talk to your kids for you, so you can have a conversation with them afterward.
This toolkit will prepare you for any question your child will throw your way.
Again parents, I know the talk is one of the more uncomfortable parts of parenting, but do not dismiss it. Don’t skip it simply because it embarrasses you and your child. In order for your child to have a healthy and accurate understanding of sex, they must have their questions answered by the one whose opinion matters most to them: you.
By Meg Meeker, MD