When Should You Talk to Your Kids about Sex?

So, you want to know how and more importantly when to talk to your kids about sex. I agree it's a delicate subject but it needs to be broached. However you don't want to mortify your kids (or yourself) by doing it. But let's face it sex-ed offered in school just doesn't cut it. And you certainly wouldn't want your kids learning about sex from their friends (like the blind leading the blind), the internet (oh God, let's not even think about that), or film (get real).

So how and more importantly when should you Have the Conversation? Well, with this one, I'm going to have to say as early as possible. Kids will naturally ask questions and the great thing about that is, if they ask you then they're ready to hear the answer. Typically the first questions start getting asked between three and five years of age. Here's what you do:

Answer their questions.

Now, I'm not advocating telling everything all at once. The trick here is just answering their question and nothing more. Don't be embarrassed. Be matter of fact, and honest (no silly names for body parts - call it what it is, just like you'd say a nose is nose). Try and foster an open relationship with your child so that information can flow freely and don't saddle your kids with your own sexual hang-ups.

If you can accomplish this then you're well on your way to establishing an environment where your child will feel like they can ask you anything and you will tell them. This might come in handy later. As questions get more specific resist the urge to mumble, or worse, tell them to "look it up." This is extremely important because as awkward as you think this conversation might be its not half difficult as an unwanted teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.

As your kids reach puberty sex will be on their minds quite a bit (don't your remember?). The problem is at this point they're also naturally striving to gain their independence and that can mean pushing you away. Don't be an ostrich. A lot of parents just avoid the subject all together and hope for the best. Or worse, preach abstinence and set their kids up for double jeopardy 1.) they've gotten themselves into some sort of trouble (pregnancy, std) and 2.) they've disobeyed you. Here's what you do:

Don't let that happen.

No subject is taboo. Your kids should know about the different kinds of sex (oral, anal, etc.) because these can be dangerous to their health if not practiced safely. Talk to your kids about masturbation and sexual fantasies and let them know that they are both normal.

Some time's its good to have another adult - someone you trust such as your sister, brother or a friend (hopefully younger and cooler than you are) as your child's "safe" person. Meaning if they find themselves in a difficult situation they can go to the other adult first. It should be made clear to your child that the other adult will only tell you what the child confided if they feel that he or she is in some kind of danger.


Be proactive in creating an environment where the doors of communication are open. Have a movie night and watch a movie about teen pregnancy (such as Juno, Baby Love, Lucy: A Teenage Pregnancy or Sugar & Spice) or give your child a book on sex and flip through it together. When you're done talk about it. Ask if your child has any questions just make sure that when you answer them that you don't use yourself as an example. Just mentioning yourself in regards to sex puts unwanted images in their minds. Keep it neutral and generic. Even if you're child refuses to talk about sex you can still let them know that you are there for them when and if they ever do want to talk about it.

Talking to your kids about sex is a necessary part of being a parent. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable for either of you.

Article by Anne Alexander Sieder


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