I currently teach a course for high school juniors, and when we get to the topic of sex, my opening question is how many of them have discussed sex with their parents. Out of an average of eighteen kids in the class, usually, only one or two of them raise their hands.
Right now, you may be reading this and thinking, “OMG, I am one of those parents who is dropping the ball with my kid!” Don’t worry; the great thing is you can start now.
To make things less awkward for your child, try starting the conversation when you’re alone and in a setting that encourages open discussion, such as while you’re in the car together or taking the dog for a walk. These are a couple of settings that allow for a private conversation where your child can freely ask questions they may have while also not having to make direct eye contact, which may make them uncomfortable and unwilling to ask about the things on their mind.
Kids who have frequent conversations with their parents about topics related to sex are more likely to delay sex until they are older and use condoms and other forms of birth control when they become sexually active.
While most schools teach sex education that includes information on abstinence, safer sex, birth control, and relationships, nothing compares to the influence you have as a parent on a day-to-day basis. That’s why talking about puberty, sex, and sexuality at home is important, even if your child is getting the facts at school.
Remember that you don’t have to share everything from A to Z all at once, and honestly, you shouldn’t. It becomes information overload, which leads to your child becoming uncomfortable and then shutting down.
Taking time and spacing out the conversations makes the talks easier on both of you. It is easiest to begin with something relevant to your child’s life right now (for example, puberty, going to parties, or being in a relationship). I recently had the puberty talk with my nine-year-old daughter. We discussed her changing body and what a period is. Was it awkward? Absolutely! I am so glad we talked, though. It has made her much more comfortable with the topic, and she constantly brings up questions and talks about the fact that she is nervous about all the changes that will inevitably happen.
When it comes to knowing where to start and how to start, the internet is our friend! There are many excellent resources to read and videos to watch that can help guide you in the right direction.