When to have the “Talk”?
I don’t remember when my mom had the “talk” with me. You know, about sex. I do remember, however, when a classmate in 7th grade told me what it meant to “69.” He even drew me a little picture. Of course, naïve girl that I was, I still did not really understand. I was too embarrassed to ask for more details.
I am a pretty conservative mom. Cursing is not allowed in my house and I try to ask those around my children to not curse in front of them. My husband and I are strict when it comes to what they watch on television too. PG is racy for my children. I want them to remain children as long as possible. And yet I know I will soon need to have a talk with my oldest.
In working with adolescents, I have learned that eleven to fourteen year old kids know a lot more than I did and a lot more than parents would probably like them to know. Unfortunately, many are engaging in a lot of sexual activities. Engaging in the activities and understanding the activities are two different things. You have to decide who you want to educate your children on sex-television, classmates, video games, or you and her other parent. (I’m going to say you for the rest of the time but know I mean you and the other parent).
By putting off the topic, we create a culture of secret and shame. When your children are small, you should be talking to them about bad touch/good touch (and its okay to use “real” terms like penis and vagina). As they age, encourage your child to ask questions. This may be hard for some parents but again who do you want them to learn it from. If you are not sure how to answer a question, tell them you will think about it and let them know. BUT then do get back to them.
By the time your children are in fifth grade (and most likely before then), they have heard the word sex. Some other kid with an older sibling or unlimited access to cable knows a little too much. It is time for you to talk to them. There are some excellent books to help you. Go to the local library and check out sex instruction in the children’s section (it may seem weird but you type in “sex instruction” and click children’s catalog). READ a few books yourself before deciding which one to share with your children. Take into account your religious beliefs and make sure you are covering the basics. I suggest mentioning oral sex. Unfortunately, kids tell one another it isn’t really sex and therefore kids don’t understand its dangers. And yes some at this age are engaging in oral sex so it should at least be brought up.
Remember to talk about how our bodies may be telling us to do it but we need to remember what is safe for us.
As your child enters middle school, revisit the talk. At this time, it might be beneficial for you to do some research too. I write this in all seriousness. I am often surprised by the inaccurate information adults have regarding sex. For example, two condoms are NOT safer than one. Latex rubbing against latex is a bad idea. And yet, this is commonly thought to be a good idea!
Again encourage your children to ask questions. As your kids age, they may feel comfortable talking to one parent over the other. Also, make sure you have the talk without other kids present. Remind your kids that they should not share too much about sex with other kids. Help them understand each parent shares with their kids at their own pace and may not appreciate your kid “educating” them.
Once in high school, a lot of teens engage in sexual activity. And yet it is okay to tell your child that this is not want you want from them. Please know we can educate our children and encourage them to wait at the same time. I tell my clients that I understand a lot of teens have sex but that I hope that they would at least wait until they are in love and could be prepared to have a baby. I also tell them that if someone easily engages in sexual activity with them, then she engages in sexual activity with others the same way.
Decide how much of your past you want to share with your children. DON’T overshare. You may want to share with your middle school or older child how old you were and if you would change anything. They don’t need details of your sexual escapades (and really it’s inappropriate).
I’ll disclose that I plan on telling my children I would love if they could wait till they are married (because those are my beliefs). I will also fully educate them on safe practices for any type of sexual activity.
I encourage you to really think about when to start talking with your kids. Once they hear it from someone else it’s too late.
Stefanie Pisarkiewicz a Licensed Professional Counselor at Sandhill Counseling and Consultation. Stefanie is devoted to assisting clients use their own strengths to overcome life’s challenges. She is dedicated to helping youth realize their own potential.
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!