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How to talk to your kids about the ‘Birds & the Bees’

Submitted by on January 14, 2013 – 12:30 pm2 Comments

Talking to your kids about sex

When should you talk about sex with your child?

by Cheryl L. McKinzie, M.S., M.A., LPCI

Imagine the following:

You are in the kitchen making an after-school snack for your son and his friend. They have your iPhone. You hear noises from the iPhone that are vaguely familiar. When you take your iPhone back from your 9-year-old son, you discover that they were watching adult content on YouTube. What do you do?

Or imagine this scene:

It’s spring break, and several parents bring their kids to the office (no babysitters!), and put them around a computer in a back office. These kids range from 8 to 10. They find porn on the internet. How do you handle this?

Should these scenes be your child’s introduction to sex? What is an appropriate introduction to this oh-so-touchy topic?

Our kids are confronted with sex every day in the media, on the internet and through sex education in schools. We can’t keep them in a bubble and protect them forever, as much as we’d like to do so. As scary as it is, as tempting as it is to ignore, sex is a subject that can’t be left alone. If you don’t talk about it, your kids will find it on their own.

When should you bring up sex with your child?

Each child is different. And you know your child’s individual differences better than most. Age 8 is probably too young to discuss sexual issues. Age 13 is probably far too late (they know more than you by this time). Is this a male/female issue – No! Girls and boys both need to hear about sexuality equally. Is this a religious or secular issue? Absolutely not! Kids who have “the talk” with Mom and Dad are more likely to remain abstinent longer than kids who do not. Why? Because they have the facts, not the media representation of sex. Further, you can present your own views of religion, if you like, as far as sex is concerned.

How do you tell your kids about sex?

I look back at how my parents introduced this topic to me and shudder. Do you recall your own experience? Is it any wonder that you have had safe and productive sex now? Most parents are very nervous about talking about sex. This is far more overwhelming for you than them. You might get a few eye-rolls, and the, “Mo-o-om,” or “Da-a-ad.” No one will die from embarrassment though.

When you are comfortable, present the facts to your child. Make a big deal of it. Make a party of it. Or a special dinner.
Talk to your child about sex today.

Recommended books

Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent’s Guide to Talking Sense About Sex by Deborah M. Roffman (2001).

What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys by Laurie Krasny Brown (2000). [This is for talking to younger kids].

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