Growing up, the closest I ever got to sex education was my grandma telling me, “Don’t let any boy touch you or you will become pregnant o.” The confusion I felt can only be imagined. Having also learned from a very young age that it’s better to err on the right side of caution, I went on full throttle in to MISSION AB!!!
Looking back now, I understand that my folks could have indeed done better with the subject of my body and sex education. It saddens me when I hear ridiculous tales and riddles parents tell their children these days on the matter of sex.
I mean, this is 2014!
What they fail to realize is that children will still get this information, but more often than not, they will get absolutely wrong ideas and details, and these details in turn will shape their attitudes and orientation toward sex.
Parents these days need to accept that we live in a highly sexualized environment, where our children are exposed to sexual language, images, and behaviors before they are even developmentally prepared to handle them.
Therefore, they need to be fed with the right information. As a parent, you can make a difference in your child’s life as to whether they will have the right sexual principles and values.
Talk with your kids, develop strong relationships with them, and help them set clear boundaries and expectations about sex and their bodies. Here, Face2FaceAfrica will be sharing a few pointers to help steer you along this path and allay your fears.
Why Should I Talk to My Kids About Sex?
Many people often ask me, “Doc, do I really need to talk to my child about sex so early? I mean, why should I?” I typically answer them with the question, “Why shouldn’t you?”
We need to understand that talking with our children about sex is important to help them develop healthful sexual attitudes and learn responsible sexual behavior. You’ll also be able to provide accurate information; for, what they learn elsewhere might not necessarily be true or even reflect the personal and moral values you want your children to live by.
As a parent, your child should understand the possible consequences of being sexually active, including pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and even the emotional baggage that comes with sexual exposure.
Many parents fear that if they talk to their children about sex, that’ll make them want to do it. More often than not, though, that is not true. It’s important for children to understand what sexual feelings and relationships are before they become sexually active. That way, they have a full awareness of what they are getting in to. Studies have shown that children who have discussed sex with their parents are more likely to wait longer to begin having sex and more likely to use contraception when they do.
What better person to teach them than you?
When Should I Talk with My Kids About Sex?
It’s best to start talking with children early about these things. Children are naturally curious about their bodies, and these days you have 3-year-old girls asking why they are different “down there” from their brothers or even boys at school!
As parents, we need to understand that this curiosity is normal, and we should key in to it as an opportunity to start teaching them about their bodies and subsequently build a truthful, trusting relationship with them. An easy way to go about this is to make sure you never avoid a “teachable moment.”
Always grab these opportunities to offer accurate information whenever your child ventures anywhere near the topic of their bodies and sex. Don’t wait for them to ask you point-blank sexual questions or even make mistakes before you step in.
What Should I Tell My Children?
Before you even open your mouth to speak to your child, you have to understand that it is absolutely important that you give your child truthful, accurate, useful, and age-appropriate responses.
Be real with them.
For young children, you can start by teaching them the names of their body parts and explaining the differences between boys and girls. Teach them the importance of not having anyone touch them in certain parts of their bodies and encourage them to share with you when things out of the ordinary happen.
This helps you to protect them from sexual predators and sick people.
When they ask pointed questions, explain to them in a manner that they can comprehend for their ages. For instance, if your 4-year-old asks you where his younger sister came from, you might respond, “From your mother’s body.” However, if an older child asks, your answer should have more details.
Giving them information they can process for their ages makes them understand that sex is a natural part of human development. Telling them the truth also makes it easier to talk with them about the more complicated aspects of sex as they get older because you’ve already laid a good foundation.
The Don’ts of Sex Talk
In a bid to play down sex education or just out of embarrassment, parents often make mistakes when giving sex talks to their children. Please try as much as possible to avoid the following:
- Don’t laugh or giggle, even if you think the question is cute and obviously childish. Your children should not be made to feel ashamed or shy about their curiosity.
- Don’t appear overly embarrassed or too serious about the matter. Be free with them.
- Don’t go in to long explanations, because you’ll most likely go round in circles. Keep it brief. Answer their questions in simple terms. Your 4-year-old doesn’t need to know the actual details of intercourse, even if he/she asks.
- Don’t lie. Be honest at all times. Use the proper names for all body parts; don’t hide behind cute tags.
- Don’t underestimate your child’s curiosity. Always try to find out if your child wants or needs to know more. Follow up your answers with questions like, “Do you understand?” “Does that answer your question?”
- Don’t deny your child the opportunity to chip in with what they think they know. Always listen to your child’s responses and reactions.
- Don’t be in a hurry to end the conversation, giving them the impression that sex is a hush-hush topic that must be said in a huff and forgotten. Be prepared to repeat yourself and explain over and over again.
- Don’t think that one conversation is enough. Be prepared to have several sex talks with your kids as they grow.
Sexuality is part of every person’s life, no matter the age. Because of the natural human curiosity, as your child grows, he/she will wonder and giggle with friends about their private parts, share dirty jokes they’ve picked up somewhere, and even try to practice what they’ve seen probably in movies. Naturally, they will come to you as their parents with all sorts of questions. When they do, you should be ready to answer.
Let me leave you with this real life story:
One night at dinner, my husband asked our then-6-year-old son what he wanted to do for work when he grew up. He replied, “I don’t want to work, I just want to be a Dad.” My husband and I exchanged smiles. Then, without missing a beat, our son continued. “But I’m not sure I want to do that either, because then you have to pee in your wife.” His comment came so unexpectedly that I nearly choked on my mashed potatoes!
I’m sure you do not want to be the confused parent in the above situation. Talking with children about sex and sexuality may be uncomfortable at first but it gets easier with time and practice. Help your children stay healthy…when they know better, they do better.
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