29 Oct Parenting with Understanding: How to Talk to Your Children About Sex

Trudy Jacobsen

Parents often dread or fear having conversations about sex with their children.

They fear the awkwardness of the conversation but there is nothing awkward about it! It’s a parent’s job to safely and maturely guide their children into adulthood, and one of the biggest factors is learning about sex.

If you’re dreading that talk, don’t worry! There are ways to make the conversation easy to approach.

Keep in mind that your children are likely more curious than anything else. So, when you bring up the topic, you’ll want your child to feel safe enough to ask questions and get the answers they need, without judgment.

Approaching the Conversation

For starters, don’t feel like you need to have a big “talk.” There’s often so much pressure around having one big talk with kids about sex that it can make both you and your child more nervous than you need to be.

Sure, you can choose to sit your child down and have a serious, dedicated conversation about it. But you can also look out for opportunities that could serve as catalysts for teaching moments.

For example, if a family member announces their pregnancy, later, you might ask your child, “Do you know how a woman gets pregnant?” Or, if your child witnesses a sexual scene in a TV show or movie, you could ask if they know what’s happening.

Little opportunities like this can make the conversation more natural and easier.

Knowing When Your Kids Are the Right Age

There really is no definitively right or wrong age to start the conversation. Children start exhibiting curiosity about sexuality at a very young age, but you obviously can’t go into the details of sex with a 4-year-old.

However, you also don’t have to euphemize either. You shouldn’t be afraid to refer to sexual organs by their proper names and feel as if you must make up names for them. Your kids deserve a healthy understanding and normalization of the terminology.

In the end, it really is up to you to determine where your child is at maturity-wise and allow that to lead the conversation. You may not feel comfortable talking to your child until their 13, whereas another parent may have already had the conversation with their 8-year-old. You know your kids better than anyone—and whenever you decide is the right time, then it simply is.

Respecting Your Children’s Boundaries

As stated at the outset, your kids are likely just curious about sex. And so, when you have a conversation about sex with them, they may have a lot of questions.

You should try to answer these questions as honestly as your child’s maturity and knowledge allow. However, you should also never assume they know or don’t know certain things. Simply let them lead the way if possible. Ask how much they know about sex, pregnancy, etc. Ask if they know what STIs are or what a condom is. By doing this, you’ll get a pretty good basis for your child’s knowledge of sexuality and where you can fill in some of the blanks or correct mistaken ideas.

Ultimately, however, don’t push them too hard. If your child seems very uncomfortable, ease off the conversation and try to pick it up when they’re a little older.

The Importance of Talking About Sex with Your Kids

We want our children to be as healthy and happy as possible. By encouraging openness about sex, you can set your kids up to feel comfortable to come to you with any concerns.

If you’re honest about the pleasures and dangers of sex, your children can grow up to be much more prepared to navigate their personal sex lives. Talking to your kids about sex will also open the possibility for conversations about gender roles and LGBTQ+ issues.

So, don’t be afraid, and don’t feel uncomfortable or awkward. In the long run, both you and your kids will be grateful that you made them feel so comfortable and informed about sexual topics. And, most importantly, by having these honest conversations, you’ll be allowing your kids the best chance of being happy and healthy in their sex lives.

If you would like more information about how to approach talking with your children about other important subjects, please contact me (07) 3282 5453