Warning: The Answer Is Not Quite What You’d Like It To Be! Every single parent has to deal with this question at some point in their lives: when and how should I talk to my kids about sex? The answer is both simple and complicated. Here’s how.
There is no such thing as the right time to talk to your children about sex. That’s right. No such thing. Society and the taboo around the concept of sex has created this myth that for some unknown reason, there is something about sex that children shouldn’t know, or it will ruin their innocence. That’s utter nonsense. The knowledge of sex and sexuality has nothing to do with innocence, it is the act of sex that makes the difference.
The facts are ugly - we live in a world where children are at a very real risk of being sexually abused. Would you be comfortable explaining to your child why it was wrong to let another person touch their private parts after that has already happened or would you prefer to have your kid know not to let anybody do that in the first place? The answer is obvious. So, I repeat - there is no such thing as the right time to talk to your kid about sex.
The truth is, you only expect a certain conversation to take place when you think the other person either knows or needs to know something about the topic of discussion. Both situations are very bad times to talk about sex, because in both situations, you’re already too late. If your child knows enough about sex to have a conversation about it with you, they most probably already have their own opinions or impressions about it and you’ll be able to do very little to change that. If they’re at a point where they need to know about it - like when they’re going for a late-night party or for a stayover - they probably already know and if they don’t, you’ll most likely only scare them or put them off the idea of sex completely.
We all know that first impressions are very hard to change. It’s because of this very reason that I want to make sure my child has the correct first impression of sex. Thanks to the internet, none of us can define with certainty how that will be, but we still hold the higher ground because the internet only gives facts - we teach our kids how to feel about it. The most critical time to talk about sex is every time your child asks or mentions something about it.
It’s very easy for children to get the wrong ideas about what sex really is. They never think it’s something to be secretive or ashamed about. Children may know something - correct or incorrect - about sex, but luckily for you, they won’t feel the need to hide it from you. If they do know something about sex, it will most probably come up in some conversation or the other and it will always be unexpected because you never expect sex to come up while chatting with your kids. A great idea is to not just expect that to happen, but also to prepare in advance and find out what to do when your 6-8 year old talks or asks about sex.
Just because sex is an adult thing to engage in doesn’t mean it is not for kids to know about. Knowledge is power no matter what form it comes in. Be prepared to correct your 6 to 8 year old son or daughter when they express a wrong or bad piece of information about sex. Figure out in advance how to answer children when they ask about sex because if you don’t, they’ll turn to the wrong kind of people or the internet and you do not want either of those things to happen. Yup! Welcome to the 21st Century.
You should prepare yourself for the chances of your 6 or 8 year old asking or talking about sex in the middle of a casual conversation for two very strong reasons: one, that this is exactly what’s likely to happen; and two, that your reaction will determine the way your child will behave about it with you for the rest of your life. Your child’s understanding of sex is more or less out of your control, but your reaction to their knowledge of it makes a huge difference.
If you react with shock or anger when your child first talks about sex, they will spend the rest of their lives looking for answers to any related issues on their own rather than asking their safest source of information - you. If you laugh, they may feel hurt, ashamed, or insulted and in any case they’ll turn elsewhere to discuss the issue rather than coming to you. If you casually and honestly correct or answer them, though, you become the approachable parent and their relationship with sex doesn’t become something they want to keep hidden from you. Our reactions to unexpected situations are rarely in our control, and that’s all the more reason for you to know exactly how to handle your children’s first questions about sex before they are actually asked.
Whether we like it or not, children today are maturing faster than we’d like them to. For the sake of their safety and well-being, parents like us need to stop trying to “protect” or “prolong” their childhood and innocence because every time we do that, we harm the chances of either remaining intact. As the keepers of our children’s safety, it is our duty to protect them from wrong and harmful information. In today’s day and age, the only way to do that is to provide them with correct and good information instead.
The best time to talk to your kid about sex is over the entire period of their lives, in bits and pieces, in varying degrees of details and in absolute honesty. Try your best not to make a big deal about it because if you do, they’re likely to get all the more curious and you’re equally likely to get awkwarder, worsening the situation for you both. If your kid has already dropped the bomb on you and you’re not sure how to deal with the situation, you’ll find some helpful tips on how to talk to your child about sex here. Good luck!
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