As parents, there are plenty of milestones in our children’s lives that we welcome – sleeping through the night, their first word, their first steps – these are so exciting! Then, there are some milestones that are incredibly bittersweet – kindergarten graduation, the 13th birthday, and all of those “growing up” milestones that take them one step closer to leaving our nest. Of course, there are also milestones that we dread: chief among these is puberty, and before that, the “BIGGIE”: giving your kid “the sex talk”.
I remember a funny moment of realization soon after I found out I was pregnant with a girl. I already had a son, and my sister-in-law, who had two sons and was done having kids, joked with me: “Ha ha! You have to give the sex talk! I don’t have to, that’s all on DAD because I have boys.”
Eek! At that point, with a toddler and a baby in utero, having “the sex talk” with my kids had not EVEN crossed my mind. Even at that early stage, the thought struck fear into my heart. I did NOT want to mess this up. But as my kids grew, and I grew as a parent, I could see from looking around the world we live in that it was imperative that my kids get this vital information about healthy sexuality from my husband and I, and not from any other source. So parents, even though it might be super-awkward, and even though you might mess it up a little, it will still be so much better coming from YOU than from anywhere else. So take a deep breath and read on. Here’s why YOU have to talk to your kids about sex
- If you don’t tell them about sex, someone else will – and they may not share your values. Information about healthy sexuality is vital to your child’s well-being, and not everyone’s views on what is “healthy” are the same. For instance, your child’s friend on the school bus may be telling everyone that his dad said you can have sex with whoever you want, whenever you want, as long as you use a condom. If that’s a little faster-and-looser than what you want your kids to adhere to, you need to get to them before that kid on the school bus does.
- If you don’t tell them about sex, they might think it’s BAD. I am a Christian, and I firmly believe that God made sex as a good and beautiful way for two married people to express their love for and take pleasure in each other. And also, to make babies. Bonus! Like it or not, our children are sexual beings! (I cringed just writing that, but it’s true.) Even though they are now much to young to take part in sex, part of growing up is being aware of the design of their body and it’s sexual function, and being curious about relationships, intimacy, and where babies come from, for goodness sake! Since sex is part of a healthy marriage relationship, part of what their bodies were designed to do by a loving Creator, I don’t ever want them to feel like it’s dirty or wrong. Because then they might feel like they are dirty or wrong. And that? Is super unhealthy.
- If you don’t tell them about sex, they might not learn how to treat members of the opposite sex in a respectful, healthy way. Let’s be real: our sons and daughters are not going to learn how to respect and love members of the opposite sex from television, popular music, movies, celebrities, etc. Let’s be real-er: they might not even learn this from observing the adult relationships of friends, family, or church members. Do you want them to learn about healthy boy-girl relationships from “Blurred Lines” and Fifty Shades of Grey – or from you?
- If you don’t tell them about sex, they may not know how to react when they see an unhealthy sexual act. According to the fabulous web site Porn Proof Kids (which you should all go subscribe to immmmmediately), the average child is exposed to pornography between the ages of 7 and 13. EEEEK! As a parent, this statistic scares the crap out of me. At home we should all be vigilant about internet and mobile device filtering and monitoring to protect our kids from seeing porn. BUT, that is not enough. We can’t be with them 24/7 – who knows what may slip through a filter or happen at trusted friend’s house? Your children may very well see unhealthy sexual behavior despite your best efforts, and if you haven’t spoken to them about what happens in a loving sexual relationship, they might see sexual violence or exploitation as healthy or desirable. They might also try to keep what they’ve seen a secret from you if you haven’t established yourself as an approachable parent who responds to awkward queries in an open and loving way. Have the talk early – before puberty. If you’re worried about “too much too soon” – think about the sexual confusion that could come into their sweet little brains and hearts if they get “too much too soon” from a source that isn’t you. “Too much too soon” from a friend who’s been exposed to porn, or from your child being exposed to it, is far more damaging than an age-appropriate sex talk from a loving parent.
Moms and dads, having an appropriate “sex talk” with your kids is one of the very top most important things you can and must do as a parent. Don’t let fear of messing it up, of awkwardness, or your own sexual past stop you from doing right by your kids in this area. Below I am going to list some great resources to get you started on this journey.
Have you had the sex talk with your kids? What are were they, and how did it go?