4. Don’t expect to know everything. As a parent, I’m sure there’s part of you that wants to be able to answer every question. But there will be times your child asks you something that you won’t feel prepared to talk about right away. Maybe it’s a medical question and you’re not sure of the answer. Or they’ve asked you a moral question and you’re not sure how you feel about the issue, or how to phrase your thoughts. Either way, instead of forcing out an incomplete or knee- jerk answer, it’s fine to take a time-out and come back to the topic later. Tell your child, “I’m not sure. Let me think about it.” Then return to the issue, even if you can’t give an easy answer.
5. Use the media. Sex is in the media all the time, be it a song, a TV show, a commercial, or a magazine. If you want to talk about a sexual issue with your kids but don’t want to bring it up out of the blue, use the media as a jumping-off point; for example, talk about how sexually degrading rap and rock songs don’t portray healthy intimate relationships. If you have kids who are middle-schoolers and beyond, using the media gives you a way to talk about a sexual issue without your kids feeling like you’re putting them on the spot.
The bottom line is that the worst way you can talk about sex with your kids is to say nothing at all. Maybe it doesn’t come out perfectly, maybe it feels uncomfortable, and maybe your kids don’t even look like they’re listening. But they are listening (even as teens), and as a parent one of your most important tasks is to help your kids develop into sexually healthy adults.
For more advice from what Library Journal called “mandatory reading for all parents,” check out Amber Madison’s Talking Sex With Your Kids.
Adapted from Talking Sex with Your Kids, Copyright © 2010 by Amber Madison. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Media, Inc. Co. All rights reserved.