Talking to children about sex is important, because they need to know that sex and sexuality are a healthy, natural part of life. Not explaining sex to them could mean that they find out about it in other ways, and you can’t control what information they receive. It is much better to come from you from an early age so they know what is normal and what isn’t. Fostering a healthy, age-appropriate sexual attitude is important in any child’s life.
It’s never too early to talk about sex with your children. They may be curious about body parts and what makes girls different from boys. I prefer to use the correct terms for each body part, so that they know it’s ok to talk about these things and they can communicate about their body correctly with you and your doctor.
Find out what they know first, so you can correct any misconceptions they may have. Explain things at your child’s level of understanding and keep it simple! You don’t have to go into a detailed explanation of the ovulation cycle or a step-by-step breakdown of how an embryo forms. Explain how each body part has an important job to do, and when they inevitably ask you how babies are made – tell them.
I probably don’t need to tell you that the way you approach this and how you explain it depends on the age of the child, but with my children who are 8, 10 and 12 this is how I explained it. From a young age I had always taught them the right names for things and what sex was in a very basic way, but when they got a bit older and learned more from school, they started hearing my partner and I have sex and laughing and commenting about it.
Now, let’s not pretend we all didn’t hear our parents at some point in our young lives. It happens, and when it does and they start making jokes about it or even if they don’t say anything at all but you know you’ve probably been louder than you should have earlier than you should have (eeeek!), the best way to combat it is to say something along the lines of:
“Yes, we were having sex. I know you find that hilarious right now, but it’s a totally normal part of life and something two people do when they are in love – and one day when you are older, you will do it too”
*cue shocked faces and lots of ‘ewwww no way!’*
The more open you are about it, the better in my mind. I am always careful to not bring shame or embarrassment into talking about sex at all. I talk with them about what is appropriate in regards to people touching their bodies, what is a good touch and what is a bad touch, and that they can come to me with anything at all without fear of judgement or reprimand.
If your child asks you a question and you don’t know the answer, say that you don’t know and maybe research it together.
If your child comes across porn online which has happened to my son before, stay calm. Explain that children are not meant to see that stuff, and that some adults like different kind of sex. In my case with my son, who was quite upset even though he just saw a glimpse of it, I just held him and said to him that some people make beautiful things like sex into a business, and that it wasn’t real sex. I told him there are many disturbing things like that on the internet and that’s why we monitor his time on there. He is very careful online now. It’s always good to have parental controls on every computer and device, and to make sure you are always checking your child’s history just in case they have come across something upsetting.
Another thing I discuss with them is sexuality. They hear at school about people being ‘gay’ and boys liking boys and girls liking girls, and I say to them that they can make that decision for themselves when they’re older and that they will be accepted and loved no matter what.
Discussing sex with your children is a necessity, especially in this day and age where they are finding things out at a younger age. I am surprised just how much is discussed between children at school, and it disturbs me how much misinformation and messed up stuff they hear!
As long as you keep the communication lines open and discuss everything without shame or judgement, your kids should grow up with a healthy grasp of what sex is and what it means, and be able to experience a healthy sex life in the future.
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