5 Tips on Talking About Sex with Your Kids
Embarrassed? Afraid? Here’s how to make it a lot easier.
-Amber Madison (Adapted from her book, Talking Sex With Your Kids.)
So your four-year-old asks you “what’s a vagina,” your middle-schooler’s new favorite comeback is “suck it,” or your teenager is about to go to the prom. No matter what age your kids are, if you’re starting a talk about sex with them (hopefully one of many talks), don’t freak out. Instead, try these strategies:
1. Don’t be ashamed. Sex. Say it out loud. Sexual intercourse. Say that too. If you’re blushing, sweating, or just said the words in your head, say them again, louder. And again and again, until you’ve said them so many times that the words no longer have an embarrassing meaning. This may seem ridiculous or even raunchy, but I promise it will help. The more you get used to saying sexual words, the more immune to them you get. They are just words that you can say in front of your kids. Sex is hard to talk about only because we’ve learned it should be. But you can get over your embarrassment about sex; it just means realizing that it’s not a topic that’s inherently humiliating.
2. Talk your age. When discussing sex with your children, use accurate, matter-of-fact terms like “penis” and “vagina.” Younger kids need to learn there’s nothing shameful about their bodies, and older kids need to be talked to like adults. As your kids get older, and you’re talking to them about more concrete sexual issues, again, remember your age. There’s no need to overdo it by using their lingo— your job is to be a parent, not a friend. No one wants to hear their parents talking about dicks.
3. Make it a conversation. In a conversation, two people talk and listen to each other. When you’re talking with your kids about sex, it should be a conversation, not a lecture. Don’t be so concentrated on what you want to say to them that you forget to listen to their responses. Encourage your kids to ask questions and talk to you about any sexual issue on their minds. Especially if your kids are teens, encourage them to be open with you as they try to navigate sex and intimate relationships. You’ll have a better sense of their questions about sex, and which issues they may be struggling with.