It is never easy to initiate “the talk” with your kids. Sometimes the thought of it makes parents queasy. However, it shouldn’t be a topic that parents should dread. Although it may be a big deal, you may ease your way through the topic slowly by taking cues from your kids.
Toddlers as curious as they are in their very nature may start to notice situations that may lead to “the talk about the birds and the bees”. A simple question such as how they came to be or how does mommy get pregnant may catch you off guard.
Here are some guides when you have to talk about sex education with your kids.
As a parent, it is your prerogative on how you would address the situation. There are studies and books that will guide you on your action plan. It is important that prior to the situation presents itself to you, you should be decided when you would like to have this discussion with your kids. When you decide to do so, being a mindful parent, make sure you’re committed to the role and not be dismissive of your kids’ queries or innocent remarks. Make sure your partner also participates in the discussion in case you might have a hard time explaining.
There are studies that suggest that you slowly integrate information to your child before they can even speak. While there are no objections to using a “cutesy” name in place of the actual anatomical name of their private parts, it is encouraged to use the actual anatomical name of their private parts such as “vulva” or “penis”, just like you would call their arm or joint or neck.
When they’re grown and can understand a little bit more, you can teach them about boundaries and consent. You can educate them by what is okay and not okay to talk about in public, and you can also teach them how to say no. You can teach them when it’s okay to sit on your lap or not, and you may make them aware of games that require touching. Just make sure to take note of verbal or other forms of cues from your child before you open up or talk about it so it’ll make it less awkward, given their age.
This is also the stage they’re very curious. Questions of their conception may come up out of the blue, but make sure you answer it properly and depending on your assessment of your child’s understanding, you may explain it in simple terms or ways. If you feel a little uneasy about talking about the topic to your child by this time, make sure you let them know or answer them concisely as to discourage follow up questions.
When they’re in school age, they might explore a little bit more. Now that everything is digital, they might stumble upon websites or even pictures in their internet searches that may not be suitable for their age. It is essential in this stage that parents establish a rule about talking to strangers, posting or sharing pictures of others online and identifying websites they can and cannot explore. You may even discuss pornography in a simple manner when you think your child can handle or understand fully the information. It is also important to teach them the importance of proper hygiene at this stage since they’re showing curiosity about their bodies.
By puberty, you may want to discuss sex education with your kids. This is the time most physical changes happen such as the development of breasts and changing of voice. It is suggested to even read a book that touches on topics such as puberty and sex or physical changes. It is also when they learn about it in school as well through Biology class. So it is important to be open when your kids have questions. If it’s too technical or too complex for you, tell them that you’ll find out the answer with them. A discussion on safe sex may be daunting of a task but it is crucial for them to know that there are risks so they can make a better, informed choice.
Having established an openness in discussing sex from early on, your kids will find it more comfortable opening up to you or discussing their sexual curiosity with you. This may be the time to have a real discussion about birth control and buying condoms. It is also necessary to talk about the impact of alcohol and drugs on their judgment.
If your teenager is not comfortable talking about himself or herself, you may ask about his or her friends from school and start from there. As long as your child is comfortable with you and senses that the conversation you will have will be dealt with confidentiality, he or she will have no problem opening up to you. Discussions such as this will one way or another impact your child’s future decisions and behavior.
Sex education is essentially important to discuss with your teenager so they will be guided on the actions they might decide to take in the future. It is understandable as it is expected that there will be times that as parents you will try to influence their decision because we think that it is the right choice for them. When that time comes, take a step back for a bit and think about what you are about to do and what it might do to your teenager.
As parents, it is best to keep in mind that one of your main roles is to be present in their lives and guide them in making the right choice. You have to remember you were teens once too and you were once guided by your parents to make the right choice. You can make that experience as a basis on how you can help your teen in making his or her choice in a more personal and relatable manner.
Ultimately your goal as a parent is to empower our teenagers so that they would be able to evaluate risks and make good decisions by letting them understand that they always have a choice. And when they come to a crossroad and need advice before they decide, always remember to listen and take into consideration their feelings and the impact it will have on their future. An empowered teenager will always make rational decisions rather than making emotional ones. Nonetheless, remind them that you are always ready to assist and guide them in times of trouble and uncertainty.