The Talk

The Talk is easier when you prepare beforehand, and then just do it

You’re feeling it’s time, but it’s a hard one to wrap your head around. He’s asking questions, she’s developing…Your child, who you still think is too young for some of this, is about ready for…the talk. Yes, the sex talk. But in reality, this should be an ongoing discussion starting at a young age and continue on through the years, not a one time talk. No parent looks forward to this, it’s uncomfortable for everyone. But you have to be able to talk to your kid about this stuff, you know the alternative – learning it on his or her own and that can sometimes be a dangerous thing.

Depending on your child’s age and what he or she knows already, you’re going to talk about different things. Hopefully, if you have an older teen, you’ve begun this discussion already. And that’s what it should be, an ongoing, open ended discussion. Sure, you may start with some mechanics of how babies are made, but then you may go into things like buying condoms and practicing safe sex.

Talking to elementary age kids…

Your five year old may want to know how babies are made. Here is where you can talk to your young child about some basic anatomy, including eggs and sperm. You don’t have to go into detail but should answer questions. See what your child wants to know and that will be your gauge for how much information to give. As kids get older, they may have more in depth questions. An eight or nine year old may know much more than you think they do. Also, puberty is around the corner, and kids need to go into this empowered, not ignorant. Use those ‘”teachable moments,” like if your daughter sees your tampons in your purse or your son sees people kissing in public.

The trick here is to give them the right information without bombarding them or freaking them out. They’ll hear stuff at school or from friends with older siblings or friends who may be just a bit more savvy. The Internet is full of images that can be easily found or stumbled upon. Things are taken much better from parents, even though it can be awkward. Don’t necessarily wait for them to ask, that may never happen, but you can open things up for discussion, with a book or those teachable moments. Many schools teach health, use that as a prompt.

Giving teens the talk…

Talking to your teen about sex will probably make you blush and wish you could hide, but you’ve got to do it. Sure, they probably know the basics by now, but there’s a lot more than that. The proverbial locker room talk still exists and it happens much more than in the locker room – on the bus, during class, with their friends – teens talk about sex. Help them not only get the facts right, but try to instill some sort of a moral compass at the same time.

  • Reiterate that if it involves a sexual organ, it’s sex. Many kids don’t believe that oral sex is sex. It is. Make sure they know this and the repercussions of it, including health risks and the intimacy factor. And just because they say everyone else is doing it does not make it okay.
  • Talk about more than the biological and physical aspects of engaging in sex. Word gets out, pictures get out. Girls and boys talk and people break up. Reputations can be affected. But remember, some kids are in long term loving relationships and things progress. Discuss these things with your teen and help them realize that it’s okay to wait.
  • Tough topics – Your teen may need to talk about some things that are tough, and it’s important to let them know you are there for them. Anything from wondering if they may be gay to knowing what to do if they think they are ready for sex to feeling pressures or guilt about past behaviors. Try to be nonjudgmental and let your child know he or she can always come to you.

The talk can be uncomfortable to say the least. You may be shocked to hear what some kids are doing, even your own, but if you can start talking early, maybe some things that would be regretted can be prevented. Be brave, you can do this!

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