Wow, what a loaded talk! I bet you were not expecting this conversation so soon. Which is what brings you here. I would like to preface this article by saying that this shouldn’t be one big talk. There is no reason to all sit down and pull out the video and go through a tortuous talk about alllll things sex. Nope. They don’t want that. You don’t want that. Lets discuss how to talk to your kids about sex!
Who am I to tell you how to talk about sex?
What makes me qualified to talk about this?
Well, nothing special really. I was fortunate enough to take some awesome classes on my journey through nursing school. I took an elective called “Human Sexuality”. It pushed our boundaries, made us talk about it, and practice talking about it. So, beside taking this really awesome class, what else can I offer?
I am also a nurse. So we are used to talking about sensitive subjects, being in someone else’s personal space, and having matter-of-fact conversations.
Lastly, I have a 12 year old boy. This is the age of farting, belching, and pooping. The thought of having a girlfriend is unbearable, unthinkable, and blasphemous. He actually has a saying when we bring up the prospect of ever having a girl friend: “I dont have a girlfriend, never will, believe what you want to believe, it doesn’t make it true, namastay!”…yup. So we have had several conversations revolving around this subject and I am making them factual and not taboo. Taking the joking out of it.
This should be a series of micro conversations!
What inspired me to write about this?
I recently went to a presentation at my sons school presented by Axis. You should check them out for more information! At the end they held a Q& A session which parents asked various questions about sex, technology etc. Some of the questions asked made me feel like these conversations should have already happened. Not waited until middle school. Several of them were related to how to talk to your kids about sex. Then, I realized that not everyone goes into health care. Not everyone has the opportunity to spend 3 months talking and learning about talking about sex. I left this presentation feeling like I had to share the information with others.
So here we are 🙂
Ill tell you a story
My son has a female cousin who is 2 years younger than him on his dads side. They are thick as thieves. She is more like a Tom Boy, too. She wears boy clothes, plays with boy toys, and isn’t into the girly stuff. So, my son never really realized there was a difference between them. Until one day…she went to the restroom with the door slightly open. He walked around the corner and saw her sitting on the toilet. He was shocked.
Why does she pee out of her butt??
I would bet I had a look of bewilderment. Fortunately, he was about 4 and couldn’t remember my reaction of ‘whaaat?’ and a giggle. This is when our “talking” began. You are probably thinking, Lindsey, you didn’t have “the talk” at 4?! Well, you are super correct. I would be wasting my time, and scaring my child in the process.
I did give him just enough information to satisfy his mind.
It opened a discussion of simple anatomy. Boys have a penis that sticks out just like you. Girls have a vagina, and since it does not stick out like boys they have to go pee sitting down. I even opened up a very basic and simplified picture in my text book. He seemed satisfied, and we moved on.
These conversations continued to happen. I would like to believe they continued because I never shamed him, I never said he was too young to know about that (if hes asking, hes not too young). I followed a very basic formula that I was taught in my Human Sexuality class.
When you child asks you a question about sex…or any hard subject
There is a great, supportive way to respond. It should go something like this:
“That is a good question, I am happy you came to me”
“Where did you hear this from” OR “Where did you get that idea”
Answer the question in the most basic, but satisfying way possible.
Ask “Do you have any questions?”
The key here is to only give enough information to satisfy them. Let them think on it, and let them know they can always come back if they have more questions.
Well how do I know if I said too little?
That’s where question 4 comes in handy. If they do have more questions, they will tell you. And again: only give enough information.
Its like soup
Its like adding salt to a soup. You add small amounts at a time, taste the soup, and stop when it is just perfect. Add too much and you may have ruined the soup entirely. You can always add more salt, but you cannot take it away. Use the talk, and these steps to open a conversation.
Another piece of advice to keep in mind: When you child asks that question, be aware of your face. Your body language is the first thing they will pick up on. If it says ” Oh ^&%#, here we go, what do I say?” now you have passed up on the opportunity to become the expert in your child’s life. They will go find and believe the information they will get somewhere else.
If you have ever hear what boys say on the playground, you don’t want your child taking that advice. Trust.
An activity that sticks out in my head from that class is this story:
The class was divided in half, in two lines, facing another student. We each received a card, one of us had a “hard question” and the other student received a card with an age on it. The fun part was that we had to answer the question catered to the age on the others card. We had lots of laughs, lots of “ummmmms”, and lots of good conversation. That prepared me for how to talk to my son about sex.
8 years later
My son is now 12 and the conversations continue. His most recent question, well, comment was: “My classmate was talking about PornHub”.
I thought to myself, this is an open door. It is up to me to keep it open.
Me: “Oh yeah? and what did he say?”
Him: “He described some things he saw while watching it.”
Me: “ahhh…well yes. Pornography exists.” I briefly and lightly described (factually) what it is. “Do you want to ask me questions about it?”
Me: “Okay, well you know I am always here to talk when you have more questions”.
Notice I didn’t give my opinion; I didn’t say much else other than giving him an open floor.
The next day I did tell him that I had more time to think about his comment. That I had done some research, and would like to buy him a body book. I explained that the book was more of a guide and he didn’t have to read it if he didn’t want to, it was merely reference material in case he didn’t want to ask me. He then said “No way…ewww”.
He replied, “If I cant ask you, why would I ask anyone else?”
Me:”Well you would be able to reference the book”
Him: “But I have you, you will tell me the truth”
It warmed my heart knowing he was comfortable (for now anyways) coming to me for hard conversations.
Did you learn anything useful?
From basic anatomy, to pornography, and all the topics in between…it requires intestinal fortitude, kindness, factual answers, and openness to address these topics. We have come along way, and we are not done yet. Through a series of micro talks over years of non-judgmental education, you can make your way through the gauntlet of sex education. I hope you at least have an idea of where to start, and how to talk to your kids about sex.
If you only take away one pearl of knowledge from this blog, please consider this:
You cannot leave these things in your child’s hands. If you do, they will never come. Sure, it will save some embarrassment, and hard talks. These hard conversations can be the make it or break it for your child when they are facing these facts with their peers. Who’s voice are they going to hear in their head? Yours or their friends? Be the safety net. Open the conversation.
For more information about Axis.org and what they do click here
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