RULE OF PARENTING #22: Let’s Talk About Sex: 5 Tips on Talking About Sexuality With Your Children

Let’s Talk About Sex: 5 Tips

Rules Of Parenting - # - Let's Talk About SexOf all conversations that parents have with their children, sexuality has to be the most difficult. However, research presented at the Canadian Paediatric Society’s 88th Annual Conference suggests that teens are more likely to delay sex or engage in responsible sexual behaviour if their parents candidly talk to them about sexuality. No matter how awkward the topic may be, sexual education is an undertaking that loving parents must commit to. Here are some helpful tips on talking to your child about sex:

1. Start Early

It is never too early to start talking to your child about sexuality. As early as 5 years, you could help your child learn about different body parts for both boys and girls. Children may also ask about where babies come from or how babies are made. For the younger children, it would be appropriate to explain that a child grows from a seed in the mother’s body. For school-goers and preteens, explaining the reproductive system and the process of conception may be appropriate. The rule of thumb is to use appropriate explanations for different age sets; children of different ages will understand matters of sexuality differently.

2. Make it Natural

It is a good idea to make use of natural every day happenings and situations to talk about sex. For example, if your child sees a pregnant woman in the neighborhood  he might ask you about her belly. Take this opportunity to explain to your child about birth and conception in a language that is appropriate to his age. TV shows may also present a great opportunity to talk about relationships and sex, especially for the grown up children. Even if your child does not initiate a conversation during these ordinary moments, take the initiative and point out what is going on. The advantage of incorporating conversations about sexuality in your day-to-day routines makes the process less awkward, builds trust and opens up the lines of communication.

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3. Encourage Your Kids to Talk

Ask your children open-ended questions pertaining to sexuality. Sometimes it may be tempting for parents to churn out tons of advice and expect their children to always be on the listening end. However, a better approach is to take time and listen to your kids and the type of information they have about sexual topics. A good place to start is to ask your child what he thinks about something. For example when talking about teen sex you could ask your teenager, “What do you think about kids your age having sex?” Or, you could ask your 6 year old “What have you heard about the differences between girls and boys?” The answers to these questions will help you fill in the gaps where there is a lapse of information. Encourage your kids to keep asking sexuality questions for example by asking, “Is there anything more you would like to know about girls and boys?”

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4. Introduce Safe Sex

Abstinence until a later age is the ideal. However, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention up to 47% of high school students surveyed in the U.S. in 2011 already had sexual intercourse and a staggering 77% did not use any form of birth control. So, by the time they are in high school, a good number of teens are already having sex.

Instead of demanding that your teenager abstain, it is best that you talk to her about safe sex and the various methods she can use to protect herself and her partner from sexually transmitted diseases. It is especially a good idea to advice your teenager to avoid having too many sexual partners and to choose partners who respect her choices.

It is also essential to introduce your teenager, whether male or female, to different methods of birth control. For your teenage daughter, this information will equip her with enough resources to prevent against unwanted pregnancies. For your teenage son, he will also have the knowledge about protecting his partner from unwanted pregnancies as well.

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5. Between Sex and Love

Teenagers are typically vulnerable at this stage of their development. They often confuse the emotion of love and the act of sex. As a parent, be sure to explain to your child the difference between sex and love and the role that sex plays in a relationship. Explain to her that she does not have to have sex just because she feels smitten by her partner. It is important for teenagers to understand that sex should be consensual between the two parties in the relationship. Nevertheless, teenagers do not have to engage in sexual activity to be loved or to belong.

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