Having the sex talk with your child is always considered to be uncomfortable. While that may be true, it is still a very important conversation especially as the child gets into the puberty stage. The truth is, our children are living in a very sexualized society. They are exposed to a lot of sexual images, languages and behaviours even before they are mentally developed to understand or handle this issue.
While as a parent you take all the precautions to protect your child, he/she is not an island and will still get exposed to such issues. The best thing you can do is have an open and honest conversation about sex so that your child may have the correct information and know how best to deal with sexual issues. The term ‘talk’ does not meet one single conversation. The idea is to create an environment where you talk to your child about sex allowing room for them to come to you if they have questions or worries. There are different ways to talk about sex depending on your child’s age. Here are some tips to get yours started.
Find Out What They Know
The first thing is to find out what they have already consumed from outside sources. You can start by asking a few questions to get the conversation going. This allows you to know where to start while at the same time allowing you to correct any myths or misconceptions they might have heard along the way. Additionally, as you begin having the conversation by stating that having that conversation with them does not mean that you condone or are giving permission to have sex. It is acknowledging the fact that sexuality and all the things surrounding it exists instead of pretending otherwise.
Avoid using ‘Don’t’ and focus on ‘Dos’
It can be very easy to get lost in the ‘don’t do this and do not do that’ but it is important that you focus on positives too. Focusing on the negative may make your child feel like it is more of law enforcement rather than simple conversation. This may cause them to withdraw and feel uncomfortable. The do’s give solutions to experiences that your child may have and that can help them to know how better to deal with the situation.
Listen as much as you talk
In reality, as a parent, you know more about sex more than your child. However, ensure that you listen as you share your wisdom. Sexuality can be a very confusing subject especially to children who are approaching their teen years. Their bodies are changing, they are experiencing all these hormones they cannot seem to figure out and not to mention the peer pressure that comes from friends. Your child may be confused and you need to assure them that it is okay. That you will answer any questions they have to ease their worries. You may not give the most perfect answers but let it be a journey for you and your child. As they confide in you, you get to understand them more thus know how best to advise them.
Empower your child
Growing up, children may view sexuality as something to be ashamed of. They feel uncomfortable in their own bodies and may feel ashamed of what they feel. Ensure that you do not approach the subject in a way that may make it seem dirty or wrong. Talk to them about being proud and owning that stage in their life. Empowering a child about their sexuality not only makes sex not seem like a dirty secret but it also encourages them to be responsible for themselves which goes a long way in the long run.
Do not talk down to them
Yes, you may what’s best for them but it does not help if they are being talked down to. Just share accurate information about what you know. Discredit any rumours they have heard but also respect their intelligence. Children may sometimes feel like they know more than you do and consider you to be old-fashioned. Coming in too strong with your values and facts in a condescending tone may do more harm than good.
Here are some tips on talking about sex – An age-by-age guide.
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