How & When to Have "The Talk" with Your Kids
The time will come when the sex conversation needs to go down. Use these tips to help make it comfortable for the both of you.
As children leave toddlerhood and enter the realm of childhood, around 4 years of age, it would appear their curiosity kicks into overdrive. Cue the never-ending questions of “why?” and, if you're lucky, the reprieve of “how come?” They will become so curious, in fact, answering their rapid-fire line of questioning will become second nature. We're talking answers while washing the shampoo from their hair, while driving, between bites at the dinner table and even mid tooth brushing.
Conversations like these build the foundation for your parent/child relationship. It opens lines of communication, positions you as a trusted resource and, most importantly, shows your child they can discuss important things with you--even if the reasoning behind the sky being blue doesn't seem all that significant while laying them down for bed. But, encouraging these lines of questioning is a great starting point as they grow older and the questions turn to more sensitive matters. Cue, the "birds and bees" talk.
Typically, this particular subject is one that both sides dread having. It's expected to be awkward and embarrassing, but it doesn't have to be. Identifying the right time and strategy to having the conversation can help not only make the conversation bearable, but also initiate meaningful and continued conversations around the subject as your child gets older and more curious.
When to Have "The Talk"
Many parents want to assign an age to the conversation of our bodies and sex. However, in reality, this should be an ongoing and continued conversation starting as early as those initial toddler years. Obviously, you want to keep conversations age-appropriate, but if your child grows up having these kinds of conversations with you, having a bigger conversation (like whether they are ready to have sex or not) will seem second nature. Dr. Phil provides a great outline on the type of conversations to have throughout the various stages of childhood.
Use Real Terms & Labels
By assigning a cute nickname or code word for body parts, you are inadvertently teaching your child that his or her body is something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Assign anatomically correct names to the parts of the body when discussing them with your children, and they will develop a healthy and respected attitude toward their body and what it can do/will grow through as they get older.
Don't Put Yourself Into the Conversation
Avoid using "mommy and daddy" as the example relationship when discussing sex or yourself when discussing changes in the body. This will only cause unnecessary discomfort and embarrassment for your child and potentially shut down productive conversation. Instead, use "everyone," "girls," "boys," women" or "men."
As your child gets older the questions will be become more specific and sometimes controversial. Arm yourself with the proper knowledge and information as best you can, but more importantly brush up on these tactics for discussing sensitive subjects. Keep in mind, your child is his or her own person and will develop his or her own views on life and hot topics. Remaining a neutral source to discuss your child's thoughts and ideas is important to continuing healthy and open conversations. And, if you don't have the information for the conversation, let them know that you don't have answer at the moment but would be happy to research the subject more and continue the conversation when you have had a chance to do so. This will help your children understand the importance of researching matters they are unfamiliar with and allow for more honest discussions.
Samanta McIntosh is an unabashed shopaholic with a passion for fashion, beauty and a healthy lifestyle. From shoes to family, she has something to say about it all. Her love for sharing and obsession for all things pretty and fabulous led her to blogging in January of 2010. She is involved in and actively supports the following organizations: Chi Omega, Social Venture Partners, Emily's Toys 4 Joy and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training.