Cheryl’s Shoulder: Talking with Your Tween about Sex

I am a parent and the sex talk has been something I have dreaded since before my first child was even born. I remember the talk between my mother and I when I was a child. It was awkward for sure, but I think my mom did a very good job with it. However, I think there is always room for improvement in situations like this.

There are several different schools of thought on the sex subject and kids. Some people think you should start young and keep them informed, others think you should wait and see what happens, then there is me. I like to take the middle of the road approach. Here are my tips for making the sex talk or should I say sex talks easier between you and your child.

1. Let them come to you.

I have always told my children that they can come to me with anything. Even if it is something that they have done wrong or that they think is bad. Keeping the lines of communication open is so important when you are raising children. My daughter came to me at the young age of 6 to ask about sex. I was floored. I certainly didn’t expect any questions about sex at such a young age. To top it off, I was not really ready to have a discussion on that topic with my 6 year old. However, if your child is asking questions about sex or any other sensitive subject, then you need to answer their questions and not put them off. In my daughter’s case, someone else had been telling her about sex, so it was important that I explain things to her so she could fully understand and not get more confused by the rumors she was hearing from other children.

2. Make sure you have time to talk.

My daughter approached me with the shocking sex question just as she was about to leave the house to head to the bus stop before school. Not really the optimum time to have an important discussion. So I had to tell her that we would discuss it later. Yes, I know that I told you not to put your child off, and it appears that this is what I have just done here. However, I did not wait days, or weeks or months to bring this back up. I talked with her once she got home from school and we didn’t have any thing to distract us. This way I had time to explain things to her, and plenty of time to answer any specific questions that she had as well.

3. Keep it at your child’s level.

Explain as much as you can about sex, however, make sure you don’t explain too much. There are so many things to explain that a child may get overwhelmed with it all. Keep your discussions at a level that will not overwhelm your child. The first time I talked with my oldest about sex it was extremely simple and basic. It was all that she really needed at that time. However, it was not long before that changed. She needed more information and came back with more questions, which brings me to my next point.

4. One talk is not enough!

No matter how old your child is when you first have ‘the talk’, you will need to have ‘the talk’ again. Your child is going to process what you tell him or her in that first discussion, and will have more questions. It is so important that you are ready and prepared for these additional questions. When more questions come up, follow the above steps as well. Make sure you have plenty of time, and keep any additional talks at an level appropriate for your child’s maturity.

5. It is not a big deal.

Yes, it is a big deal. Any subject like sex or drugs is a big deal. However, do not make it into a touchy or sensitive or bad thing to talk about. Keep your cool and don’t act awkward about the topic. Use words that are appropriate to the subject. If your family chooses to use anatomical names, or a nickname, whatever you are comfortable with. The main thing is not to show that you feel awkward or uptight about the topic. Children sense things like this and will feel like they shouldn’t have come to you with this. That is the last thing that you want!

6. Bring up the subject on your own.

After you have talked with you child about things, it is always good to bring it up to them again. Maybe it has been awhile since you have discussed the subject and you just want to check back in and see if there have been any changes since your last talk. Maybe you are concerned that your child is getting involved in something that may be over his or her head. Whatever the reason, it is so good for your child to see that you are so comfortable discussing these issues with them, that you can bring it up on your own. I firmly believe that your child will come to you when they are ready, however, make yourself available in this way as well. Sometimes I child may not know how to bring up the subject during our busy lives. Take the initiative and start up a conversation on your own when the time is right.

7. Don’t draw the gender lines.

Every child is different, and every family is different. If you have a daughter it does not necessarily mean that the mom is the best person to talk with her. If you have a son, sometimes Dad may divert to Mom for these topics. Sometimes both parents will want to be involved in these discussions. There is no law that says only a Dad can talk to the boys, and only Mom can talk to the girls. There is nothing wrong with going that direction, but there is also nothing wrong with breaking down the gender lines and making both parents available for these talks.

8. Don’t kill it.

Yes it is important to talk about sex, but don’t go into overkill mode. Keep the lines of communication open at all times. But if it is a constant discussion your child will get tired of it and begin to avoid the subject with you.

No matter what happens, you want your child to keep coming to you to discuss their questions and thoughts about sex and other topics. There is no rule book about when, where, how, or why to have these talks. You have to use your best judgment and do what is best for your child and your family.

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