So lets start with the first question I always get. When should I start talking about sex to my kids? I’m going to give you the short and sweet answer… as soon as they are born.
I know. Technically they don’t need this information. They have no idea what you’re saying. They just like looking at your face when you talk. They won’t need this info for a few more years. This is actually for you. “Talking” to your infant about sex is simply calling their body parts by their correct names. Think of it as early practice getting comfy looking at your kid and talking to them about their body.
In the same way you will undoubtedly sing-song to them “This is your nose! I have your nose!” You get to practice saying: “This is your penis/vulva! That’s so cool! Some people call it a pee pee! That is such a funny word!”
Make these easy (you can do it!) conversations part of your communication from birth to about age 3. This is a great way for you to be able to talk to your little one about all the parts that make up their amazing bodies while you get your words in order for the bigger talks. You are setting the ground work for explaining good and bad touch. Knowing the anatomically correct names of their body also empowers them to understand they have a right to state where they do not want to be touched.
So lets talk about the 5 to 7 age group. This is a fun group. Really it is. This is the group that will ask the innocent questions that will make you blush. Because you’ve been practicing as they’ve been getting older, this is easy-peasy (right?). So this age doesn’t need diagrams and pictures of fallopian tubes and such but knock yourself out if you want to show off your PowerPoint skills. This group is just trying to figure out the world and their questions will be direct. You can answer their questions directly as well.
Around this time you will start to hear “eeewwwww!” every time you kiss your little one. Once you get over the slight sinking feeling in your heart, get excited because this is the sound of an open door! “Eeewwwww” is you chance to talk about intimacy, love, and how adults show their love for one another. Consent is a great topic for this age group. Remind them that they have a right to have their body treated in ways that make them feel safe.
Once your bundle of joy inches up to ages of 8 to 10 you get to start flexing your strong parenting muscles. These are the years for factual, in-depth, and a wide variety of topics and questions in regards to sex. Get yourself to the bookstore and get books that talk more in-depth about the reproductive system. Go over the reproductive anatomy of both sexes. You are now able to talk about the mechanics about how conception occurs. Use the books you’ve found. Read them together. Ask your child questions and let them ask you questions. Going over consent and good and bad touch is also still important. Talking to them about the subtle and blatant ways that sex and relationships are represented on their TV shows is a great way to illustrate talks about love, intimacy, respect, and consent.
Regardless if you are the mom, dad, or primary caretaker, these are conversations that can be had as a family and in one on one. It doesn’t matter what gender your little one is, picking up the correct language and feeling comfortable talking to you and asking you questions makes all the difference as they get older and truly start to need some of your help to navigate the tween and teen years.
So the moral of the story is simple, just start talking. You will get through it and it will get comfortable. They will love you for it later on.
If you are totally freaked out or at a loss don’t fret! I will be giving a workshop on 2 different nights on exactly this subject. No Big Deal: The Sex Talk- Talking to Your Kids Abut Sex will help you get what you need to start this wonderful conversation going. The best part? we are breaking this into two groups so you can share with parents experiencing the same age group.