Parents, at some point, need to discuss sex with their children. It’s an uncomfortable topic, could be embarrassing and it’s certainly not easy, however, it’s mandatory so be prepared. I think the earlier we have “the sex talk” with our kids, the better.
Little kids, starting at around age 6 or about the time they enter first grade, will begin to be curious about where babies come from and possibly about something they’ve seen or heard in the media, at school or at home. I think it’s very important to open a dialogue with our children before the idea of sex becomes blown out of proportion or our kids hear something utterly ridiculous about sexuality from a classmate or friend.
When both my children turned six, I talked to them about sex as clearly and honestly as I felt they could comprehend. It was not a strictly clinical conversation, with big words they wouldn’t have understood or concepts they couldn’t grasp. I asked them if they wanted to know where babies come from and how and why babies are created. This got their attention. I told them exactly how a baby was created, explaining that a man planted a seed in a woman’s tummy, just like planting a seed in a garden and precisely how that occurs. I did tell them that this was something married people do to create babies and to express their love for each other. I also assured them that sex was pleasurable. They had some questions although they were mostly grossed out by the implications and there was plenty of “eeeeeeeewwwwww Mom!” flying around. I stuck with it and gave them the straight story, with the offer to explain anything and everything they might be concerned about then or any time in the future. They had interesting questions for about a week and then it was just another absorbed life lesson, which they were able to pass along to their less sexually educated friends to clear things up when one of their peers had misinformation to share with the whole class.
The sex talk is not something we will be able to avoid until our child become teenagers or when we might feel it is more appropriate. By then, our children will be experimenting with kissing and potentially more if they are desperate for information and sexual education. Our kids are typically taught a routine form of sex education in middle school or possibly as early as fifth grade where the basics of sex, reproduction and how their bodies function are explained in clinical terms. You should know that most teachers are just as uncomfortable discussing sex with your children as you are.
I think explaining sex clearly and rationally to children should happen before their minds are corrupted with imaginings of crazy sex acts explained by their less knowledgeable and shock happy peers who will be more than thrilled to tell your children all manner of stupid things in the name of sex. Please tell them the truth, the basic facts about sex and as early as possible so they are armed with the correct information about something that will become important to them sooner than we want to think about.
This is also a good time to incorporate teaching our moral values regarding sex, marriage, relationships, respect for our bodies and the bodies and feelings of others. If you’re extremely liberal and feel that everyone and anyone should be having sex whenever and wherever they feel like it, please consider taming your free spirit in the name of teaching your children a semblance of chastity and moral dignity. Likewise, if you are horrified at the idea of explaining sex to your children or have an aversion to sex, please consider having someone more comfortable with their sexuality have the sex talk with your children. Many pediatricians will be able to help with this or ask another family member of the same sex as your child to help you out.
As my children got older, I’d bring up specifics about sex that I felt they needed to understand. When my older daughter began dating in her teens, I explained that it was not in her best interests to let boys touch her breasts or do anything more than kiss. I told her the truth; that she would likely feel more emotionally involved over the encounter and the boy would probably mostly feel the need to tell every other boy in school about the episode. Because she trusted that I would always tell her the truth, she got it, was always chaste, and did not ever feel confused about what to do or not do in any romantic situation. As an almost-adult, she now has a remarkably clear-headed approach to relationships, her obligations to herself and those with whom she is involved and a healthy outlook on sex and the part it plays in adult relationships.
Your opinions, stories, input and questions are very much welcomed on this subject and I will open this discussion on my forum for all who would like to become involved, either to help other parents through this minefield of “the sex talk” or to gain insight for your own talk about sex with your children. This is one of the tough jobs we, as parents, have to face. Know that many other parents are in your position and are just as confused about how to approach this delicate subject.