Small conversations can make a big impressions and can happen anywhere.
Talking to your child at an early age about sex is the first step toward raising them to be good sexual decision-makers. As they enter junior high and high school, the pressure and messages related to sex and sexuality increases so it’s a good idea to have an open rapport on the topic and to continue the conversation throughout adolescence.
- Talking often builds an open, trusting relationship with your kid. Children are more likely to delay their sexual debut (whatever and however a person wants to define ‘losing it’) if they have a strong, trusting relationship with their parents. Get into the habit of chatting with your kid about sex. Be curious about their thoughts and ideas. Ask lots of questions. It will make your kid more comfortable coming to you for advice later on.
- Lots of little talks are more effective than one ‘big talk’. Sitting down for the one big talk about sex will be intimidating as hell for you. I really can’t even imagine what it would feel like for your kid. Try using everyday opportunities to talk— in the car, during breakfast or dinner, walking the dog, on the chairlift or while you and your kid are watching TV. A ‘big talk’ scenario is like taking a huge life exam (for you and your kid) when mini quizes – spread over years – are available.
- When you do talk about sex and sexuality, make your views and rules clear. Take the time to discuss your beliefs and opinions about sex. Be honest and express a clear, consistent message about decision-making, consent and respect for self and others. Be open with your kids about your thoughts on teen sex, pregnancy and abortion and also communicate in a real and honest way your love for them and your ability to respect other peoples perspectives.
- As kids get older, the conversation changes. What you say to a 9-year-old about sex is different from what you say to a 15-year-old. Make sure that the information you offer your kid fits their age. As they get older, you can give them more information and reinforce your rules.
You can always shift things around to make it responsive to your kid but keep in mind that these are good guideposts and that kids are generally able to hear more than you think, earlier than you think. And remember that the conversation goes both ways. Even when you’re the teacher, they have things to teach, don’t they?
And let’s not forget that our kids learn a tremendous amount from modelling. I’m not talking catwalk even if you do watch ‘America’s Next Top Model’ together. They watch and learn from our interactions. I tell my kids not to pick their nose and they turn it right back on me. Same goes for getting distracted while brushing my teeth. They see and integrate ideas about consent, having and communicating a positive self-image, treating your body with care, and treating others with love and respect. So we gotta do our best to show them a world they want to create for themselves.
It’s friday. A perfect day for a chat about sex. Go to it.
Adela is doing it. Straight up, over a bowl of cereal.