A guest article by sexual health educator Amy Lang
No matter how open, informed, or confident you are, talking to kids about sex can be difficult! It may seem awkward and uncomfortable for everyone to have these conversations, but don’t let these feelings put you off, because there is good news!
Again and again when teens are interviewed, they say the people who have the most influence over their sexual decision-making are their parents and primary caregivers!
We are powerful, we have influence, and they want and need to hear us.
Sex education in school is not enough. Their peers, pornography, and the media are the last places kids should go for information, which means it’s up to YOU.
Like all other parents, you probably have no idea how and when these conversations should begin, let alone what children should know at every age and at every stage. But like all the other difficult parts of parenting, this is something you can learn to do with confidence.
These conversations are about physical and emotional health and safety and about preparing children for one of the most important and important parts of life. The earlier you start (five is not too young) the better, as they will expect these conversations and learn that you are their go-to source for birds and bees.
Another important fact is that children who communicate openly with their parents about sexuality are offered some protection against sexual abuse.
You can do it! You probably want your children to make better decisions about this part of life than you do and be better prepared for them as well. Using your power and influence confirmed by adolescence is the way to achieve this.
Here are 10 tips to help you with discussions about birds and bees:
- The very first thing you need to do is clarify your values regarding sex, love, and relationships. Start conversations early and remember it is NEVER too late to start. Always say “it is not for children, and for when you are older” when you talk about sexual behavior.
- “When they are ready to learn more about sex, they will ask” is not a thing. When you wait for them to ask, you are making them responsible for their own sex education.
- It is a series of short, sweet conversations throughout childhood and adolescence; it’s not a big ‘talk’ that traumatizes you both.
- Talk to your kids in the car, text them, send them emails or write them notes. You don’t have to face it face to face all the time.
- Look for good times to learn – watching movies or television, or even observing the lives of friends.
- Get age-appropriate books to read with or without you. Include books on puberty and adolescence.
- Acknowledge their discomfort and yours, then dive in. They need this information to make good choices.
- Make sure they know they are responsible for their bodies and have the right to say NO if someone touches them in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
- Sexuality is central to almost every aspect of healthy development, and your kids deserve to be as smart about it as they are about what they’re learning in school. Hardly anyone uses what they have learned in arithmetic in their everyday life.
- Sex is about responsibility and joy; pleasure and confidence; health and security; communication and information. *
There is more information to help you become the go-to expert on your children’s birds and bees on my website, Podcast and in my Birds & Bees Solutions center, where you’ll find 95% of what you need to get the discussion going. You got this!
* Author Peggy Orenstein once said “responsibility and joy; pleasure and confidence. I added “health and safety; communication and information ”, as they are an integral part of comprehensive sexuality education.
About the Author
Amy Lang, MA teaches parents of all faiths how to talk to children about sex through consultations, workshops, videos, teleclass and discussions. She has won the Mom’s Choice Award® three times for her products and books. A sexual health educator for over 20 years, Amy also holds a master’s degree in applied behavioral science.
Follow Amy on Twitter @BirdsAndBees, where she tweets funny things kids say about sex, or become her fan on Facebook!
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