Do you remember that awkward talk about the birds and the bees when one or both of your parents struggled to explain where babies come from? It always surprises me how many of my clients tell me that there was very little or no sex education in their home while growing up, even for young people whose parents were raised after the sexual revolution in the sixties. It seems that while parents want the best for their children, they still struggle to talk about sex and intimate relationships. With sex changing so rapidly due to technology, the internet and porn, becoming a sex positive parent might make a big difference to the way your kids view sex.
Start talking way before puberty
Your children are absorbing messages about sex, sexuality and relationships from a very young age. Even if your child is a toddler it is advisable to start talking to your children about their body, privacy and nudity and answering their curious questions about bodies openly. Let your child know that you are available to answer any questions they have; no matter how uncomfortable it might me. If you feel awkward answering questions, it is advisable to figure out how to change that, for example talking while doing another activity. Otherwise your child may sense your discomfort that could lead them to believe that the subject is out of bounds with you.
Don’t project your understandings onto your child
Let your child lead in the conversation, particularly for younger children aged two to five years old. If your child wants to know where babies come from, remain curious to their understanding before you explain your version. This way you will know how much information to give them on the subject. Let their understanding guide you with the level of information to impart.
Prepare your child for puberty
Puberty can start as young as eight years of age and continue until 18 years old or later. Statistics show that more parents believe they have had the sexual health talk than their teens believe. Remain open to talking and letting your child know that they can approach you with any kind of questions.
Use teachable moments
The above instance could be a great way to begin to teach your child the difference between how the media portrays sex, love, relationships and beauty. While it is important to stay at their level, letting your child know that what they see in the media is an inaccurate portrayal of real life sets them up for a more healthy view in the long run. If they realise this from a young age, they may be less likely to buy into unrealistic images of love, sex and beauty.
As your child moves into puberty, realise that friendships are vitally important and they are beginning to have close relationships with others. More than just sex, teens begin to grapple with feeling attractive, good enough and part of their crowd. The average age of first sexual intercourse is 16 years old with a third of teens having their first experience at 14 years old. Don’t turn a blind eye to your child’s sexual development. Stay open, clear and approachable.