Parenting is difficult enough, but it becomes even more difficult when children get to the age where they start asking questions about sex. Most parents are terrified of talking about sex with their children, and they aren’t ready when the time comes. You may be surprised to learn that it is actually never too early to start talking to them about this topic. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to be told the true facts.
When you answer your children’s questions about sex, you are helping them to learn about their bodies, how they feel, and how others feel. When they ask questions, this is a good time to start the conversation and be honest about puberty, sex, and relationships. Many parents think that talking about sex is the same as giving their children permission to go out and have sex. This isn’t the case. Actually, the more informed a child is, the less likely there is going to be an unwanted teen pregnancy.
How Much do they Need to Know?
Once you have gotten over your fear of talking about sex with your children, you need to figure out what they really need to know. A rule of thumb is that if they have no questions, you have said enough. If they want to know more, they will ask. You don’t have to get into graphic details. Just give them short, truthful answers. For instance, if your daughter wants to know why she doesn’t have a penis like her brother does, tell her that hers is inside her body, and it is called a vagina. She will likely be satisfied with that answer.
When your child wants to know where babies come from, tell them in the simplest of terms. All you have to tell very young children is that babies grow inside their mommy’s tummy. When they get old enough to ask how they get there, you can explain it to them at that time.
How Much do Children Need to Know?
In addition to talking to your children about the birds and the bees, there are other related topics you will need to discuss. You need to be open and honest, so they will be more apt to come to you for answers rather than outside sources. Some of the things you will need to discuss include:
How babies are made
How to prevent unwanted pregnancies
Using condoms for safe sex
Where to learn more about contraception (You and your children can learn more about safe sex and contraception by visiting British Condoms)
Sexuality, and that it is alright to be gay
Talk to your children about puberty before they reach it. Girls should know about periods by the age of 10, and boys need to know about the changes their bodies will go through by the time they are 12. Also tells them about how puberty affects the opposite sex.
What Your Children Need to Know
Once your children reach puberty, they need to know about sex, pregnancy, and safe sex. They need to be prepared, so they can make the right decisions. Talk to them about STD’s, LBGT, and other issues they need to know about. When the awkward questions are asked, or they are asked at the most inopportune moments, don’t say you don’t have an answer. Tell them you will discuss it with them later, in private.
There is a game from researchers at Coventry University that helps parents and children talk about sex. There are five situations parents play through, as well as a quiz. They will get feedback on how they talk to their children about sex. There are versions for children ages five to nine, and children ages 10 to 14.
Image Source: S. Potente Agriturismo