Have you had the talk yet? You know the one I am talking about. I am not referring to the stork, some magical garden, or some easy to digest story for where babies come from. I am talking about the actual talk about where babies come from. As my daughter gets older I find that we are having to revisit the topic. This can be such a difficult topic to broach with your children. You have to be careful not to over or under share with your child while giving them a realistic perspective of sex. I thought today would be a good day to focus on some of the questions you need to ask when teaching kids about sex.
Teaching Kids About Sex
Do you believe in abstinence as part of sex education?
This is one of the most important questions you will answer before picking the direction of your sex education. If you do believe in abstinence it will influence how you teach and how you prepare your child.
There are many resources for teaching about abstinence. Many local pregnancy centers will have someone who does abstinence education. You may be able to reach out and join a class they are offering in the future. Some of these classes will be more detailed than others. Make sure to ask what will be covered.
If you are going to teach abstinence, keep in mind that the conversation starts in smaller ways when they are younger. Children are talking about sex younger than we would like.
Starting at a young age and discussing that their body is theirs and they get to choose their boundaries is great foundation for future abstinence discussions.
If you don’t believe in abstinence in sex education, what are your beliefs about when sex is appropriate for a person and how you will teach them about it?
Figure these out before sitting down to talk to your child. It’s important to know exactly what matters to you so you can teach your child effectively.
For either belief, whether you are for or against abstinence, you will want to know why and be able to explain it simply.
There are many resources available online based on what you believe in. I suggest either visiting Google or Pinterest for ideas. You can put together a great unit study based on your beliefs without compromising your position.
How detailed do you plan to get with sex education?
The age of the child may have a lot to do with how much you cover when teaching kids about sex. When R was 7 and asked me about sex, I asked her what she thought. If you have a child who is asking questions and you don’t think they are ready for the answer, ask them what they believe. Sometimes they are asking for a very basic explanation and you won’t need to go in-depth.
Other children will need a more detailed explanation. For R, we started with the very basics to give her an idea of where babies come from. As she has gotten older we have talked more about sex and exactly what it is. She has an understanding of the reproductive process and we kept it pretty scientific.
You will have to look at where your child is developmentally and decide how much they need to know. Make sure you don’t shy away from the topic just because it’s uncomfortable. It’s important that your child feels comfortable talking with you about this.
Do you believe in birth control for your kids?
If you believe in birth control this will be something else you will need to include in your discussion with your child. You will have to decide whether you want your child aware of their birth control options. As someone who worked with teen moms for over 8 years, I would suggest giving a basic explanation of these.
Your child may make a choice and you want them prepared to keep safe. However, this is between you and your child. It’s important when teaching your child about birth control to teach them about the success rate of each one and how improper usage can impact that rate. It is also important to help them understand the lack of coverage for many of these methods in regards to STD’s.
I highly recommend having this conversation with your child’s doctor if you trust them as they can give your child a bigger picture view of each option and their level of effectiveness.
Will you be teaching about Sexually transmitted diseases?
This is a very important topic to cover. It is even more important if you do not believe in abstinence for your child. Make sure that you research the ones that are lifetime infections versus treatable ones. It is important that your child understands that sex can be dangerous due to certain diseases. Anything that starts with an H has no cure. That is important to help them understand.
By taking some time to show them what the risks of unprotected sex are you can help them to make more educated decisions. Help them to understand that many contraceptives don’t protect from these and it is important to have an understanding of their partner’s past in order to protect their health.
You can find a great deal of information about each infection on the CDC website. I also found this fact on their site very interesting. It may help you decide how you approach this topic: “Adolescents ages 15-24 account for nearly half of the 20 million new cases of STDs each year.”
Will you be teaching about rape/molestation as part of your sex education?
According to rainn.org 1 in 6 American women are the victim of attempted or completed rape. 1 in 33 are men. With odds like that it is very important as you are teaching kids about sex to teach your child about their ability to say no and ways to remove themselves from unsafe situations. We used our modesty barbies to talk about this at an early age and continued the discussion as they have grown older.
Consent is so important and teaching your children about their right to deny consent is one of the best things you can do for them.
This conversation started early in our house. It started with giving the kids the right to say no to hugs or being held if they didn’t want to be. No grandparent, aunt, uncle, or friend had the freedom to touch them if they did not want to be touched. It’s so important to teach kids that their bodies belong to them and they have the right to say no to physical affection or to touches they don’t want. Make sure they know who to reach out to if someone attempts something they should not. They should always have a way to find the help they need and may not always feel comfortable telling you.
What example do you set?
If you are talking about modesty, abstinence before marriage, or other boundaries what examples are you setting? Your child will watch your choices to decide how they should behave. If you are a single parent and your child knows you have a partner while you are telling them not to, your advice may be ignored. Look at what you plan to teach and what you are doing. Do the two line up?
How open are you?
When I was younger my mom was an oversharer. We talked too openly about certain things in regards to sex. I am trying to find a more balanced approach with my two. They know about sex and what the purpose of sex is. They have the freedom to ask questions if needed. My son actually asked me the other day how mermaids have sex… This led to a long discussion about whether they are mammals or not. It was quite the experience… Sit down and figure out exactly how open you are comfortable being with your child and communicate that when you speak to them about their sexuality.
What will you say about self-pleasuring?
This will come up at some point. You will need to decide what angle you will take with this. Do you believe it is a sin? Do you believe it is normal? What boundaries will there need to be? There are ways to discuss this without traumatizing your child.
I think that if you spend some time asking yourself some of these important questions you will be prepared when the time comes to talk about sex. Don’t let it overwhelm you. You can do this.
What will you say about pornography?
According to The Novus Project, “71% of teens keep their online habits from their parents and 90% of the 8 to 16-year-olds who have viewed online porn did so while doing homework..” Based on that, children are seeing porn at a very young age. Did you see the 8-year-old age there? That one floored me.
When you talk to your kids, you will have to decide how you will approach this topic. Do you believe porn is acceptable? Are there lines they shouldn’t cross? What do you consider appropriate? Have honest conversations about what they view online and in print at an early age.
Does teaching kids about sex stress you out? It doesn’t have to! You can do this!
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