Being a mother myself of two young kids, 5 and 8 years old, I participate in a lot of mommy talk. There’s my parlor group, the ladies at PTA, at soccer, ballet, hockey, etc. etc. Some of the most common discussions often revolve on how to prepare our kids for the world. How to shelter them but also how to help them handle the stresses that will surely affect their lives as they grow and develop as people.
One of those topics is SEX. According to Planned Parenthood, kids are more sexually active than parents thought. By the age of 19, 7 out of 10 teens have had sex. While for some parents, talking about it feels like a natural, simple task, for many it is terribly dreaded. We may wonder why this should be done. Can’t they just figure it out?
But as parents, it is important to help our kids develop healthy attitudes toward sex and to learn responsible sexual behavior.
Unfortunately, what they learn elsewhere might not be true and might not reflect the personal and moral values and principles you want your children to follow.
There is a concern from many of the moms, that by talking about sex, this encourages their kids to do it and that that they will be less cautious. In fact, the research shows that adolescents who have discussed sex with their parents are more likely to wait longer and to use contraception when they do.
Another concern that comes up is that parents are often afraid of giving too much information or of sharing things that their children are not equipped to handle. We think that by sharing, we can cause them stress. Obviously as guardians, we want to give them the data they need without causing confusion or making them feel overwhelmed.
If your child is asking questions, this is the time to start giving answers, in a loving and supportive way.
The discussion should be throughout their lives, at age-appropriate intervals. Keeping the communication open and non-confrontational will help your kids feel comfortable sharing with you…the good things and the not-so-good.
At younger ages you may start with discussions on areas such as:
- body parts
Later delving into:
- morals and values
- peer pressure
With teens you should be discussing:
- intercourse and fertility
- use of drugs and using judgment
There are thousands of books available to use as references. Here are a few.
“Boys, Girls and Body Science: A First Book about the Facts of Life” by Meg Hickling
“It’s So Amazing! : A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris
“Where Did I Come From?” by Peter Mayle
“How to Talk to Your Teenager About Sex” by James Windell
Parents, you may not say the exact right thing… Your kids might think you’re a little weird or out-dated… You may feel vulnerable yourself and might even feel a little ill when trying to discuss these subjects with your adorable little angels (when did they grow up?). The important thing is that you did it!
Your kids will know you are there for them and willing to be open about anything. They will know that they can address even the uncomfortable stuff with you.
In this crazy world, that’s all you can ask for!
Rachel Shaffer, RN