by Jennifer Shakeel
Sexual education is becoming a very how parenting topic on the internet these days, but how do you break the ice with your kids? For as many times as I have had to have “The Talk” with children including my own, I have not struggled as much as I have with this article for parents. My intent here is not to offend anyone but to help you be able to talk with your children about sex. I know it is an uncomfortable topic, it is hard enough as adults to talk about it and it is worse as a parent. Trust me when I tell you though, that in most cases, for all the freaking out you are going through it is nothing compared to how your child feels when they think about having to talk to you about sex.
As a mother and a nurse I have given the talk to my children, some of their friends at the request of their parents and hundreds of patients. My goal is always the same, I want to make sure that sexual health is understood, what the consequences are to having sex, what is sex and the need for protection and the importance of waiting. You would be surprised to find out what your child already knows and equally surprised at what they don’t know. Children need to be educated about this simple and natural part of life so that they are prepared when the situation presents itself they can make an informed decision.
Ok, before you get upset with that statement. Talking to your child about sex will not make them want to have sex, actually chances are better then not that it will probably make them not want to have sex. When I say an informed decision they need to know that their body is their body and that they are the owners of their body. They need to know that it only takes one time to have sex and you can get pregnant or contract an STD. They also need to know what constitutes sex, many are not aware that oral sex is sex and do not think it has consequences. They also need to learn to respect themselves enough to be able to say no to sex.
Nationally speaking teen pregnancy is on the decline, it is actually at its lowest point in thirty years. This isn’t a fluke, that decline is due to two factors. One is that more and more children are making the decision to wait. Secondly teens that are having sex are using contraception and using it the right way. This is due to the increase in education that they are getting. But the fact that there are still over 750,000 teens a year getting pregnant means that more education needs to be done.
You can do this. Educating them on sex is how you can protect them. As a nurse I have had many kids crying in my office because they made a poor decision and had sex, had unprotected sex and now are faced with a pregnancy or STD and don’t know what to do. As a mother I have had my children come home from school or a day with their friends with misinformation about sex that needed to be corrected.
Most children are afraid to talk to their parents about sex, and do you want to know what the reasons I hear most often is… “I don’t want them to think that I am doing it when I am not,” and “I don’t want them to think that way of me.”
If you don’t know how to start the conversation start by asking them what they already know. If you really don’t think that you can have this conversation with them then call your doctor or a Planned Parenthood or someone that you trust and ask them if they can help you with this. I have had friends sit with me and their child and I gave “the talk” and the parents interjected where they were comfortable. If for no other reason then to let your child know they can talk to you and that it is okay if they do is reason enough to have this conversation.
Is there a certain age that is appropriate to have the talk? My advice, well this is what I have done, is that there really isn’t any age after 3 that you can’t talk to them about it. Now the talk needs to be age appropriate, obviously a 3 year old isn’t going to understand the concept of intercourse, but what they can understand is that it took a mom and dad to create them… that babies really aren’t delivered by big birds.
As they get older the information matures as well. Making it an on going process makes it easier for everyone and it takes away the excitement of the taboo that seems to surround things we are unsure of.
Know that they will ask questions that will make you blush or wish you could scream in a pillow. Take a deep breath, close your eyes for a moment and answer them. The more you have these little talks the more comfortable it will be for you and your child.
Jennifer Shakeel is a writer and former nurse. As a mother of two incredible children, I am here to share with you what I have learned about parenting. One of my children has ADD, our journey of learning to come to terms with the diagnosis and figuring out what works best for us has been a challenge and a joy. Our son was diagnosed about two and half years ago, and we have had our ups and downs, joys and sorrows. If I can just offer you one day of hope or one idea that may work to help you and your family then I know that my purpose has been fulfilled.
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