If you feel awkward or uncomfortable, you are definitely not alone. For most parents, sex topic discussions are one of the most complex and emotionally charged subjects, however, all young adults are curious about sex as it is one of the most natural aspects of life. This being so, you might ask yourself, when is the appropriate time for you and your child to have “the talk”.
A good time to communicate with your child about sex is when they are between the ages of 9 and 14, during puberty. At this age, most of them are interested in how their bodies work, some are very curious about sex, and some are already sexually active. One of your key tasks is to help your child develop attitudes about sex that are responsible, positive, realistic and informed.
Here are some tips to assist you:
-build a trust relationship with your children
-try to see “the talk” as a two-way discussion
-give confirmation of your love
-actively listen to them
-offer support and guidance
-encourage them to come to you with any questions, comments, thoughts
-be honest and direct, give them clear messages
-discuss safe behaviors, responsibility and consequences of sex (pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, emotional distress)
-teach them limits and teach them about self worth, self respect and respecting others
-discuss what is and what is not acceptable in relationships
-discuss feelings, attitudes and values that are part of sex
-have information, learn as much as you can by reading books and articles
Keep in mind that sex education is an ongoing process so be open to have frequent conversations. By using these tips you will be teaching your children to be prepared to make smart and safe decisions regarding their bodies and their relationships. Remember that education about sex should begin at home and you are your child’s most important educator.
Stephanie Gosset is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Coral Gables Counseling Center who specializes in working with children, adolescents and their families in a variety of concerns including anxiety disorders, mood disorders, behavioral problems, ADHD, poor self esteem, adjustment disorders and parenting skills training.