Nervous, grossed out, embarrassed, remember when your parents had that sex talk with you? Well now it’s your turn…batter up! Let’s have a closer look at how to explain sex to your kids.
‘The birds and the bees’
When discussing ‘the birds and the bees’ make sure you are open and honest when you explain sex. And more importantly, gearing your language appropriately for the child. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, you are just wasting your breath. An eight year-old may not understand the same way a twelve year-old does. Also consider you may not be the best person for the job, for numerous reasons. Maybe your child relates better with an uncle or family friend. Just make sure you trust this person to get the job done.
How do I explain sex to my child?
Another factor to consider is what sort of details they need to know. My theory is your child should be comfortable enough with you, the parent, to ask questions about sex. You need to make sure they understand no question is stupid and that you are proud of them for asking because you see how ‘weird’ it can be.
Misinformation about sex often causes unnecessary anxieties and can lead to real trouble. You know your child, if their demeanor is shy in general, you may want to make a question box for them or have them e-mail you their queries. Especially initially, you don’t have to make them talk. Write down the answers for them and let them get used to the idea first. I cringe when I think back to all the misinformation my friends had about sex because their parents didn’t bother to explain sex or to communicate with them period. Yes, it can be embarrassing and ‘weird,’ but the more you talk the easier it is.
What age is appropriate to explain sex?
So what age is ‘appropriate’ to explain sex to kids? Each child has a different level of maturity and circumstance. Sally may be 9 years old, she’s home schooled, and underdeveloped physically. Her mom may not start talking to her about sex for another year. Whereas Maggy is 9 years old and already has her period, her dad has already brushed the subject with her. In general, you’d like to start the talk about ‘sex’ sooner, not later. For girls around the age of 10 is good, because they mature faster than boys. A year later would be just fine for the boys. By all means, if you child starts asking questions before that, make sure you let them know you are open for business. And whatever you do, don’t make a big deal about it. Be casual and to the point. Trust me on this one, your child will appreciate it.
I remember when me and my dad were in the car on the way to ringette practice and started talking ‘sex 101.’ By the end of the drive, I had plastered myself up against the door just praying we would get ‘beamed’ to the arena. But after that first ‘I wanna die’ moment, I started to relax. He was just talking matter-of-fact and not making a big deal about it. It eventually rubbed off on me and I realized it really wasn’t such a big deal. I even got to the point where I asked him a few questions.
So when you’ve pinpointed that special day you are going to talk with your child about sex, mark it on your calendar and make sure you rehearse what you are going to say. Stay with the basics, be casual about it, and let your child know that it’s normal to be embarrassed and uncomfortable discussing it. But it’s very important they get the facts straight and you are willing to help them with that. It’s so true, the first step is always the hardest one.