How do you talk to your kids about sex?

roxgrace-beach_1370aJanuary 21, 2010

How odd that we have such difficulty talking with our kids about things that are so important. Why is that?

For one thing, it might lead to questions we can’t answer. Once we open the door with a toe halfway wedged, we know we shouldn’t be surprised if we get asked questions. We might not be able to answer questions because we don’t know the answers. They just might be asking about technical stuff that relates to science and biology, and we might not know. So, agree to find the answers. If your child is of an age where it seems appropriate, find the answers together.

Another thing that happens, of course, is that we want to save face–for us and for them. We don’t want to appear to fail to practice what we preach, whether it is having engaged in premarital sex or failing to protect ourselves from sexually transmitted infections. And we just know that if it sounds like we are trying to control our kids’ behavior, they won’t like it anymore than we do when sometimes tries to control us.

So, how do you do it–talk with your kids about sex? Listen. What do they have to say and what are they asking you? That is the part of talking that we so often forget…listening.

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7 Responses to “How do you talk to your kids about sex?”

  1. Health Comm Student says:

    This is such an important topic, and regrettably, a topic too often overlooked by parents. Personally, I was never given any kind of “sex talk” by my parents. Likewise, in a social work course I took over adolescent sexuality, I was amazed to learn the majority of other students in my class had also never had sex talks with their parents. I guess all these years I assumed my parents, being very religious and conservative, were either too embarrassed to have the discussion with me, or just assumed I would know on my own how to handle sexuality in accordance with their beliefs. Because I thought my parents were too uncomfortable talking to me about sex, I was uncomfortable bringing it up with them or my doctor. Thus, I was left to rely on friends and the media for all my information, and often left with unrealistic expectations about my own sex life and those of others. Looking back, I understand how vital good communication is between kids and their parents when dealing with sex. I spent my entire high school career not knowing many important health aspects about sex, as did so many of my peers. It seems ironic that parents are so unwilling to talk to their kids about sex, yet are so disappointed when their kids become pregnant teens or end up with sexually transmitted diseases. In an age in which the media bombards even young children with sexually saturated material and often a lacking representation of the consequences of sex, it is crucial that parents set their children straight by talking to them about sex.

  2. Julie says:

    I think this is an incredibly important topic and one that is rarely addressed. Even though having conversations with children about sex and sexual behavior may be uncomfortable for all involved it needs to happen and happen regularly. In one of my classes for social work, it was researched that the more conversations parents had with their children about sex the later the children waited to become sexually active and when they were sexually active they participated in safer sexual behaviors (IE wearing condoms, monogamous relationships, getting tested, etc). Parents have a big impact on how their children see and view their health, why isn’t sexual health a part of that? I am a firm believer that sex education needs to start early in life, starting with proper names and moving on towards age appropriate conversations. Adolescence going through puberty need to know what is going on in their bodies so they are not so ashamed. Talking with teenagers about sex needs to be to not be the “big talk”. It should be several conversations about what sex is, consequences (both physically and emotionally) of sex, safe sex, and advice on when the time is right to become sexually active. I feel open communication would allow for a decrease in the stigma of sexual health. I think its a little backwards that today’s societal norm is sex shouldn’t and isn’t talked about in the home but is everywhere in the media because sex sells.

  3. Jason Hrenko says:

    This post caught my eye as something I may need to remember in the future. I was one of those guys who never planned on having kids, but my ex-girlfriend informed me about 8 months ago that we were going to have a child together. This was totally unexpected since she was on birth control. So I have been thinking about and looking at information that was never relevant to me. I remember as a kid having the sex talk with my dad, though he did do a decent job with the description, he really never asked me any questions or gave me any hint that I should ask him any either. I can imagine that he felt nervious in the situation as I can imagine that I will be when my time comes. But I will be sure to make the communication a two way affair. Listening is sometimes hard, as you point out in the post, but I think it is better than sending your child away still having questions. Thanks for the information, hopefully I can utilize it when the time is right.

  4. Alex M says:

    I think that this topic is one of the most important health topics in society today. I think that if parents could get over the fear of losing face, many of the problems resulting from sex could be eliminated. If parents started talking to their children more, we would see a decrease in sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy, and sexual abuse. Although it is not an easy topic to discuss with children, the benefits of the conversation would be well worth it. For a class project, two students chose this as their topic. They stated that if parents do talk to their children about sex, it’s usually too late. From personal experience, the information I learned in school was not enough. I would have liked to combine the information I learned in the classroom with information from my parents.

  5. Molly says:

    My parents never talked to me about sex; they relied on school education. My parents and I never built the sort of relationship that I could go to them with questions about something like sex. I totally agree that this is a tough subject to talk about, especially with preteens, but it needs to be addressed and not left up to schools. My 6th grade class took a trip to the health center and learned all about sex and reproduction. The thing that sticks out in my mind most after that was the awkward feeling I felt around my parents. We never talked about it, it was just assumed that I would go to them with questions. Even now, I am anxious to talk to my mom about important sexual health topics.

  6. Deidre Facklis says:

    I think a lot of parents avoid this topic because they do not want to embarrass themselves or their children, and they may not know how to approach it. This is the greatest error a parent could make in their reasoning, because even if a talk with a child may feel uncomfortable, it could potentially save that child from experiencing a lot of emotional pain and confusion. Even if the parents don’t know all of the answers, there is no harm in admitting that and searching for the information together. The bottom line is that no matter what the circumstance, parents need to dialogue with their children about all aspects of sexual health, especially the emotional implications of a sexual relationship and the dangers associated with unsafe sex practices.

  7. Daniel C says:

    In my experience, I had two kinds of sex education as a teenager. One from my parents and the other from my friends. I was raised in a very religious household, so abstinence was basically the only option. I didn’t feel that there would have been much emotional support if I had needed it. Luckily, I never did. I was nervous to disclose my personal feelings or experiences with my parents, because I was worried about getting in trouble. At the time, I often felt that I learned more from my friends because the were more willing to listen. Unfortunately, some of the information teens share with each other about sex is not completely accurate. I believe listening is the most important part of communication between parents and children. My son is only four right now, but I’ve already thought about having these conversations with him in the future. Hopefully, when the time is right, I will be there to adequately listen to and support him.

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