Traditionally, parents find that talking with children about sex is one of the most difficult things they have to do. Parents struggle to know what to say and when to say it. In today’s culture it’s even more difficult, because our children could be exposed to porn before we’ve even thought about discussing sex with them.
Lay the Foundation for Future Talks
Create an atmosphere in your home that allows your children to feel they can talk to you about anything. You can do this by listening well and not overreacting when your child is troubled about something. Your children are learning about trust from the time they are born. Develop a habit of easy conversation with them from a young age.
Accept your child’s feelings while being a good model of how to manage your own emotions. Don’t judge how your child feels in any situation. Instead, help them find why they feel that way and what they can do about it. For example, with a young child you might find that their crankiness is coming from being hungry. Let them know that instead of behaving in a cranky way, they can just say, “I’m hungry”.
What’s this got to do with talking about sex? The foundation for talking about sensitive topics with your kids is trust, understanding, and compassion. When your child learns from a young age that they can trust you, it will be easier to discuss sex related topics with them. Because you’ve helped them solve problems in the past, they can accept your guidance about love and sex as they get older.
Talk About Appropriate Relationships
Talk about good touch and bad touch from a young age, especially if others are caring for your children. Explain that we have “private parts” of our bodies because they are special and need to be protected. Explain that husband and wife relationships are different from friends, brother and sister, or parent and child.
Some parents explain “where babies come from” in a very matter of fact way as soon as their child asks. Others take the approach of saying that babies come from “parents love”, until they feel their child is old enough to hear the facts. Don’t leave “sex education” up to your child’s school. They may find it more embarrassing to talk to you about sex after getting learning about it in school.
There’s no perfect age to talk about sex. It’s different for each child depending on their personality and interest. However, know that your children will hear things from other kids as soon as they go to school or child care. It’s better to be ready with good answers for your child’s questions instead of reacting in shock because of what they already know.
Sex is not a dirty word or anything bad
The word sex is a noun that describes a person’s gender, or it can be used in a phrase [they were having sex] to describe an activity. This can be confusing for children. Since you have no control over what other children will talk about or what other parents let their kids watch on TV, it’s a good idea to use the word appropriately from a young age, or be able to explain it when they ask.
Let your children know that sex between a man and a woman is for marriage. It’s a special type of love that creates life and lineage and gives joy to a couple. Celebrate marriage and family in a way that will cause your children to want that type of relationship in the future.