The most common, and most damaging, misconception about teaching kids about sex is the idea of “The Talk.” You begin teaching your kids about sex – consciously or unconsciously – from the moment they leave the womb.
You teach your children about sex through the ways that you model sexual and sensual loving with your partner. You teach them in the way you talk about, or do not talk about, bodies. You touch or do not touch them. You teach them in the way you model boundaries – good or bad.
For good or for ill, you are always teaching your children. Not only about sex, but about sex in addition to all the other things you are teaching them about on a conscious or unconscious level.
Children are often offered mixed messages in the arena of sexuality. This has traditionally come in the form of different standards and expectations offered to our sons and daughters. It also comes in the form of a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality.
A starting point for a healthy relationship with teaching your children about sex is to realize that the teaching does begin at the pre-verbal stage. And with dawning awareness, this process of teaching can become a conscious process.
When areas of discomfort arise, a question you may want to ask yourself is: “Where do I want my child getting their information about sex from?” If they’re not getting it from you, you really have no idea what sexual values are being formed in your child’s mind.
Here are a few steps that will allow you to consciously share the foundation of your values with your children, and to reinforce your influence on your child’s sexual choice-making processes through the years:
1. Be aware that your modeling of sexual values is the first point of reference your child will have, and that out of this modeling, the rest of the formation of your child’s own values will begin taking form.
2. Communicate early and often. Start the conversation with your child before any misunderstandings may arise.
3. Once your child is mature enough to form a question, he or she is old enough for a thought-out, age-appropriate answer. Using language your child can understand, address areas of sexual and romantic values as soon as questions begin forming.
4. Remember that what is NOT said often speaks as loudly – if not more so – than what IS said. The unspoken becomes the hidden. The hidden becomes taboo. Taboo becomes forbidden. And we all know that forbidden fruit appears both gravitational and repellant. So, the question becomes, is this the relationship you want your child to have with sex and sexuality?
5. Respect your child’s boundaries. If your child is done with the conversation, she or he has likely hit maximum with their ability to process the information. So take a break and come back to it later.
6. Waiting for your child to be “ready” is not always going to work. Make things easier by making use of resources. Sometimes offering your child a book on the topic and inviting discussion may cause less resistance than a head-on discussion with your child.
7. It takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes your child may feel that you are not the right person to have certain discussions with. In this case, appoint a trusted proxy or adviser. Your minister. Your sibling. A trusted family friend. Give your child the options that will allow him or her to find his or her center without fear or shame.
Be the guide you wish you had had growing up. Teach your child about the possible emotional, physical, and psychological effects of sexual interaction.
Give your child the gift of language that will allow the appropriate and authentic discussion of sex and sexuality. This is truly a gift that will last your child the rest of her or his life.
Lasara Firefox Allen is an author, educator, activist, and coach. Lasara’s first book, the bestselling Sexy Witch (nonfiction, Llewellyn Worldwide), was published in 2005 under the name LaSara FireFox. Lasara is available for coaching in many areas, including the arenas of romance and relationships. Contact her for a free copy of her Sexual Values and Ethics Worksheet as a starting point for your family’s discussion of sex and sexuality.
One thought on “7 Steps to Teaching Your Kids About Sex”
Great article…my mom gave me a book with all the real stuff when I was about 5 years old and always answered my questions with all the actual terminology. All through my school years I was THE sex and birth control resource for all my friends because their parents never talked with them about the subject. You wouldn’t believe the misguided information that I would set straight! I was empowered to make sound decisions because I had no curiosity, I already had the information. I will always be greatful to my mom for taking this approach (she is a Nurse Practitioner…so a medical professional).
I am now 43 years old and I have an 8 year old daughter. I’m doing the same thing with her. She has a book called, “No It’s Not the Stork” and I answer every question she has and I educate her. I don’t hide my body or menstrual cycle ongoings. I feel this is even more critical in this day and age. It sounds so cliche, but kids ARE growing up much faster and if they don’t learn about sex, love, and healthy relationships from their parents, they WILL get the information somewhere else and it likely won’t be correct! Or they’ll be out experimenting because of curiosity and unanswered questions.
Thanks for the great article!!!!