Many parents struggle with the topic of sex education and how to broach this subject with their children. It seems strange that we are prepared to talk to our children about so many difficult subjects like war, violence, love and societal issues when all these subjects are so much more complex than sex. Sex is such a simple thing and yet we make it so complicated, due to our fears and phobias.
Explore your feelings about sex. If you are very uncomfortable with the subject, read books, Google and discuss your feelings with trusted friends, relatives, a physician or others you trust. The more you prepare yourself, the more confident you’ll feel about discussing it.
Even if you can’t overcome your discomfort, don’t worry about admitting it to your children. It is okay to say something like: “You know, I’m uncomfortable talking about sex because my parents never talked about it with me. But I want us to be able to talk about anything – including sex – so please come to me if you have any questions. And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll find out.”
Don’t expect to know all the answers to your children’s questions. What you know is a lot less important than how you respond. If you convey that no subject, including sex, is out of bounds in your home, you’ll be doing just fine.
Teach children appropriate words to help them discuss sex comfortably with you
Children must have the correct descriptive words in order to properly discuss and understand the “ins and outs” and all things in between, of sexual conduct.
Teach your child that it is illegal or “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with children.
It is essential that children understand that it is absolutely unacceptable for ANY adult to act in a sexual manner towards a child. This includes sexually suggestive body language, speech or actions. Adults do not have any business relating sexually towards a child – plain and simple.
If the question of sex hasn’t naturally arisen, then you need to look for good opportunities to initiate a discussion.
There are many opportunities in everyday life to discuss sex. Television is a good teaching aid as it presents plenty of topics relating to sex which can be used to initiate a conversation. As children mature and their bodies go through natural changes such as puberty, use these opportunities to discuss such topics as menstruation with your girls and wet dreams and erections with your boys. Help them to make sense of what is happening with their bodies and prepare them for the next stages they may face. This can be a confusing and frightening time for young people and your candid discussions with them may help to alleviate their anxieties and further reinforce your approachability and trust with them.
Talking about sex does not necessarily need to be a “serious” discussion.
Don’t be afraid to laugh about it. This may help to alleviate your tension and your children will be relieved that the moment has been lightened by a good giggle – or even a belly laugh! Make it fun and light hearted. Children want to know all about their parents – balls and all. Excuse the pun! Dad could even relate a personal story about when he was a young teen and was forced to cover his manhood with his schoolbag after he got an erection on the school bus. This would surely get everyone laughing and help a young son to realize that what is happening to him is normal and healthy.
If a question does arise, it will generally be about a specific point.
This does not necessarily require you to launch into a detailed explanation of all things sexual. Eventually, you will reach a stage where you can both fit all the pieces together. This is a far more practical idea than waiting until they have reached sexual maturity and giving them the full unadulterated explanation. It is our responsibility to let our children know our values about sex. Although they may not ultimately adopt those values, at least they will have benchmarks to consider as they struggle to figure out how they feel and how they ought to behave. We cannot expect our children to resist what they do not understand.
Age appropriate sexual education is also a vital element in keeping children safe from sexual abuse. If they do not have adequate sexual education, children are left wide open and vulnerable to be manipulated and/or intimidated by a predator.
The majority of pedophiles prefer children on the brink of puberty, preying on the child’s ignorance and curiosity about sex. To quote one molester, “give me a kid who knows nothing about sex and you’ve given me my next victim”.
Don’t leave such an important issue in the hands of someone else.
Amanda Robinson is the author of ‘The Silent Crisis – Simple Ways to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse’ and an ex police officer who has worked with both the victims and perpetrators of child sexual abuse. In the course of her work, she has developed a deep empathy and compassion for the victims of abuse and an in-depth understanding of the dynamics involved in child sexual abuse including the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds that are inflicted upon its young victims.