Having the sex talk with the kids can be so intimidating. Many parents will skip it completely and hope the schools will just handle it. Others piece together a talk out of their past experiences. Some just wing it and hope for the best. However, the conversation about sex is an important one to have. When moms teach sex education there are ten ways moms fall short.
Moms Teach Sex Education – 10 Ways Moms fall short
Please note that these are 100% of my opinions on this topic. Please know that I am not negating your right to parent your kids the way that works best in your home. I’m simply trying to offer some wisdom for those who ask.
Don’t call anatomy by its proper name
Wait on someone else to teach kids about sex
Put strong penalties on sex/sex-related conversations
Don’t talk about the negative consequences of sex
Take only one approach
Let your past taint the conversation
Don’t be on the same page as your partner
Don’t talk about consent
While it can feel more “comfortable” to use other names for anatomy, it’s not the best approach. Using alternative names can have negative side effects. From a safety perspective, a doctor or teacher may not know what a “kitty, cookie, winky,” or many other names are. However, if your child is trying to explain there is pain or someone has touched them, they need to be able to name it.
Start early teaching children names like penis, vagina, butt, and breasts. Yes, they may yell, “My penis is full” in the middle of the store because they have to pee. (not that that’s happened with one of my kids when he was two or anything…) However, it’s worth it to be a bit embarrassed to protect your child’s overall health.
Quote from a friend of mine
It’s important to ALWAYS teach children the proper names for their anatomy. This helps adults take their concerns more seriously in the case of sexual assault or abuse.
– Penny Our Crazy Adventures in Autismland
Some parents get too overwhelmed at the thought of discussing sex with kids and just don’t ever have the talk. This is such a dangerous choice. Anyone will have the ability to teach that child about sex. This can mean that a child doesn’t know the difference between good and bad touch or learns at school that sex is just normal for all people their age.
When you save the conversation for someone else, you give someone else the chance to decide your child’s perspectives on sex and their sexual health. While it is a terrifying conversation for some, talking to kids about sex is so important and it needs to come from you.
3 ways to lead the conversation
- Start the conversation early. When talking about sex with kids, the conversation should start early. You can see topics to discuss in this post on sex education.
- Have an open-door policy for questions – If you are willing to be the first source of answers to their questions, children are more likely to come to you first. Let them know from a young age that you are there to answer.
- Let their questions lead the timing. Many parents will wait too long to address the issue. However, most kids will clue you in with the questions they ask about sex. Let those questions lead you on timing.
Many well-meaning parents will add some heavy penalties to sex acts or children who decide to explore things related to sex. Now, let me be very clear before we go any further. I am not referring to unsafe sex practices or content consumption. Protect your children. Instead, I’m referring to kids who start to ask questions or explore their own sexuality.
There are parents who threaten harsh consequences if they find out their children are having sex and some even have issues with kids talking about sex. Please know that those harsh penalties may impact your child’s views on sex in a very negative way. They may fear sex or be afraid to come to you if they do make a choice in regards to their sexuality.
You may want your child to make certain choices about sex but at the end of the day, they need to know you still love and value them no matter what they choose.
3 Healthy alternatives to negative penalties
- Create an environment of answers. When kids come to you with questions about sex it can be easy to dismiss them. Take some time to honestly and kindly answer their questions. This can help them to feel safe coming to you in a hard situation.
- Tell them when it’s safe to come to you. Many parents will put harsh punishments on children for making choices about sex. However, it is so important that there not be shame from you. Let them know it’s safe to come to you no matter what.
- Don’t punish sex but do punish disobedience. Your kids need to know that while you won’t punish your choices sexually, they do still need to respect you and the boundaries for your home. This may mean that there are consequences for things happening in your home or for them staying out past curfew.
There are many parents who will talk to their children about sex but never discuss some of the negative sides of sex. Conversations about STDs, STIs, consent, and even teen pregnancy need to be had. However, don’t use these as weapons against your children. Instead, use this conversation to help them understand the potential downside to sexual interactions.
Talking about these consequences factually and honestly can help your child to make a safe and educated choice for themselves.
3 Negative impacts of sex to teach about
- STDs or STIs – Many parents will skip conversations about sexually transmitted diseases or infections. It is important to talk about them, talk about the fact that some can be fatal, and that not all are spread in the same way.
- Pregnancy – I am not saying pregnancy is negative. A pregnancy that is not planned can be a negative impact. This doesn’t mean the child that comes from it is negative but talking about how pregnancy can change their lives is very important.
- Emotional Implications – Sex at a young age can be an emotional act. While there may be certain expectations, those expectations may not be met by their partner. Take some time to talk about the fact that they can get hurt emotionally from making the wrong choices about sex.
There are some who will only discuss their religious or personal beliefs and end up making some mistakes in the conversation. Sometimes when parents are focused on only one approach to the conversation they miss out on important topics that need to be addressed. I want to challenge you to take a look at sex education as a whole and see if there is an area of your sex education that is missing because of the approach you are taking.
3 Ways to approach it in different ways.
- Research common sex education topics. When researching common topics, you may find some of the options are things you wouldn’t have thought to address. Take some time to add the necessary ones to your list.
- Talk to friends about your approach. Sometimes it can help to talk to friends and find out if there is an area you have left uncovered. Having an honest conversation with a trusted friend can make a world of difference.
- Give yourself a boundary. If there is an issue you would typically have an adverse reaction to, give yourself a boundary. For instance, if you encounter a topic you might struggle with, giving yourself a redirect before you start the conversation can help.
When approaching a topic as important as sex, it can be so important to take it from a healthy perspective. If you have a past that is not as healthy, this conversation can quickly be tainted by warnings for kids to avoid your mistakes instead of educating them. Take some time to work through how you will approach the topic before you ever talk to your child. You don’t want to bring past baggage to the table and give unhealthy advice.
3 Ways to Keep your past from messing up “The Talk”
- Take some time to list potential negatives from your past. Instead of letting those items come up in the way you teach, take some time to make a list for yourself of potential negatives so you can avoid letting these topics taint the conversation.
- Talk with a counselor or friend before it’s time for “the talk.” This will give you time to work through some of these hurts and mistakes so that you can focus on bringing your best to your children.
- Stick to the facts. When you second guess your approach, it can be better to stick to the facts. By focusing on the facts instead of the emotional side of things, you will be able to have a better chance at a successful conversation.
There are some parents who will just wing it when discussing sex with their children. When moms teach sex education this is one of the worst things you can do. Not only will you avoid approaching certain topics, but you can also say things you don’t necessarily believe or think at the moment.
Take some time to sit down before the conversation ever starts and figure out how to talk about sex with your kids. Knowing what you believe before you start, can help you avoid making mistakes.
3 Ways to Have a Plan for Talking about Sex with Kids
- Make a list of the topics you are comfortable discussing. It can be so helpful to sit down and make a list. This will help you to address the issues you are comfortable with in a more educated way.
- Seek out answers to questions you don’t have. You aren’t meant to know it all. Spend some time finding answers to some of the questions you might be asked about sex by your student.
- Figure out where you stand. It is so important to take some time and figure out where you stand when talking to kids about sex. It can be the difference between a successful and stressful conversation.
Another way to mess up the talk about sex is to have a different perspective than your partner about how you will discuss it. When you aren’t on the same page before talking about sex, you can end up giving the child conflicting information. This can cause confusion and frustration for kids who are trying to figure out what they believe.
Before holding a conversation about sex with your child, make sure to hold an honest conversation with your partner about some of the more sensitive issues. Talking about what you believe about core issues can help you to make sure you are on the same page so you avoid confusing your child.
3 Ways to Get on the Same Page with Your Partner
- Discuss the big issues. Do you believe in sex before marriage? Will you be providing your child with protection? Are you willing to put them on birth control?
- Decide who is teaching what. In our house, the first official talk with our daughter was done by me and my son’s first talk came from dad. Spend some time discussing who will teach what and how.
- Talk about how you will handle things you disagree about. Not everything you discuss in regards to sex will be something you both agree upon. Take some time to work through how you will handle the items you can’t agree on.
There are some parents who try not to be negative when talking about sex and head to the opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of being overly negative, they glamorize sex and all of the good attributes of it. This is when an approach focused primarily on the facts and truths can be important. Take some time to take some of the magic out of it and be honest about the realities of the physical and emotional connections as well as potential negative implications. It’s incredibly important to give kids a realistic view of sex.
3 Ways Not to Glamorize Sex
- Stick to the facts. When talking about sex with a child or teen, stick to the facts. Sometimes keeping things simple can help to keep the conversation on the right track.
- Don’t spend a lot of time talking about your past. You may have had a great past when it comes to sexual experience when young. However, don’t dwell on that when talking to kids. Keep things focused.
- Balance it with the negatives. Keep a focus on the negatives as well as the positives. There are downsides to sex as an adolescent. It’s important to add these in as well.
Consent is a terribly important topic to discuss when talking about sex. Take the time to discuss consent, ways to give consent, and things that impact consent. When moms teach sex education many moms don’t take the time to discuss consent and safety. This can have dangerous results as children start to explore their sexuality as they grow up.
3 Things to Discuss when Talking about Consent
- It’s always ok to say no. When talking about consent, make sure your child understands that they always have the right to say no. No matter what they’re wearing, what expectations were implied, or anything else. No means no. Hold a conversation about the ability to say no.
- Things can impair consent. When you talk about consent another thing to point out is the fact that alcohol and drugs can impair someone’s ability to consent. Have an honest conversation about the settings in which sex is not appropriate because consent wasn’t truly given.
- Both parties need to be comfortable. If both parties don’t soberly consent it’s time to put a stop to things. Take some time to talk about the importance of both parties being completely sober and comfortable with the choice that is being made.
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Looking for more information? You can read more about handling sex education with your kids in the posts below.