When should parents talk to their kids about sex? What should they say? Is there a way to make these conversations less awkward?
After a quick poll of my friends, I couldn’t find any that had positive memories of “The Talk” with their parents when they were kids. Most learned about human reproduction from details gathered from friends (which were often incorrect), books left discretely on bedside tables, movies, adult magazines, etc.
Needless to say, family conversations about changing bodies, reproduction and sexual health were rare and uncomfortable for my generation.
A New Approach to Conversations with Kids About Sex
As a parent, I feel these conversations are really important. I want to create a home where these talks are perfectly normal. I want my kids to feel comfortable asking me about anything.
So, I started age-appropriate conversations when my kids were toddlers and these conversations continue today. And they’re not really awkward. Here are a few tips that have helped along the way:
How to Talk to Your Kids about Sex
1. Start Early
When my kids ask questions, I try to answer them in an age-appropriate way as simply and honestly as I could. This opened the door for more conversations later.
2. Read Books Together
Over the years, I’ve brought home many great books from the library. These resources, written by child development experts, are filled with age-appropriate information
3. Don’t Flinch
When I’m caught off-guard by an unexpected question, I try not to flinch or respond in a way that makes my child feel embarrassed or ashamed for asking the question. Inside, I might be thinking “yikes”, but on the outside, I try to appear calm and happy to talk.
4. Buy Some Time if You Need to Think About Your Response
If you’re like me, you may need a few moments to figure out how to respond in an age-appropriate way. In these moments I say, “That’s a good question. Let me think about the best way to explain this…”
5. Regularly Remind Your Kids That You Welcome Their Questions
I also remind my kids that sometimes what they are hearing from friends may not be correct, so they can always check with me.
6. Find the Right Moments Instead of Forcing Conversations
Maybe we just listened to a news story that touches on an important subject or maybe we are taking the dog for a walk. Finding the right moments really helps.
If you have additional ideas and resources that you’ve found helpful to encourage open communication in your home, please share! Together we can raise a generation of kids where “the talks” are more open, honest, and helpful.
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