Giving Your Child “The Talk”
Parenthood is some scary stuff. You have to be made of very strong stock in order to deal with the day to day challenges that go along with it. Parenting is not only making sure your children take their medicine, go to bed on time, refrain from watching too much television, and have everything they need to survive. Survival is only the first step. Parenting turns into an all out war when sex comes into the equation. My friend and I were discussing how our daughters were developing and growing so fast these days, and she’d mentioned that her daughter was starting to be a little confused about sex. We pondered for nearly an hour on the telephone about how one goes about having “the talk” with their children.
My argument goes that you shouldn’t just bombard them with information. Tell them the truth, by all means, but don’t hand them a wad of informational brochures from a clinic and expect them to not be confused after reading it all. For each parent and child, the talk will be different, but it’s very important that you make sure that your child is comfortable talking about it with you first. If they’re not, get them comfortable however best works for your child. Also, some real information is also helpful, just not a ton of it at a time.
I wouldn’t suggest telling them that sex is a bad, bad, dirty, dirty thing to be avoided at all costs until marriage. If you explain it this way, naturally, they’re going to want to find out why it’s so bad and dirty-and possibly may go about this through unhealthy and unprotected sexplorations. You wouldn’t want them to think of sex as being wrong because then it’s possible that they might feel horrible for wanting to have sex.
On the contrary, tell them that yes, sex is quite pleasurable, though usually not the first time or two. My mother only told me that you just don’t do it. Period. At all! Then, she added, “until you’re married.” I never knew that sex had a purpose other than procreation until I was about fifteen years old. By then, I’d found out on my own-which is the opposite of what a parent really wants to hear.
If you’re uncomfortable talking to your kids about sex, arm yourself with some good advice and information from a professional or two first. There are a lot of books out there that you can use as really great resources for this.
It’s also a good idea to think back to when you were your child’s age and remember what some of the things were that you thought about sex back then. It’s likely that your child has the same assumptions. I remember when I was a kid, it was common playground knowledge that if a woman has sex with a man, she would be pregnant within a week and they would live happily ever after together. By junior high, this myth had been dissolved, but we were learning more interesting things by then. Like, the first time you ever have sex it’ll hurt like crazy. Oh, and one of my favorite ones: if you have sex while you’re on your period, you can’t get pregnant.
Wow. Did we really believe that? Apparently so! It’s hard to tell what sorts of things your child’s friends are telling them, though, so be prepared to answer questions. If your kid doesn’t have any questions, ask them a few instead, or start out with bringing up some valid points.
Here are some things that you can bring up:
1) Condoms and birth control options- Depending on you and your family’s beliefs and values, you may want to explore birth control issues before your child actually has sex for the first time, and before is always a better time than after. Also, it’s a good idea to make sure they know how a condom works, how to put it on, and how they don’t work if they’re past the expiration date or if used with certain lubes. If you’re not sure that your son or daughter knows how to put a condom on, show them (use a banana or a cucumber like they did in health class when we were all kids…ya know, before fire was invented).
2) Orgasms- Make sure that you let your daughters know that it’s very unlikely that they’ll experience a real orgasm on their first time, although it is possible. Sex isn’t like a romance novel hero and heroine’s wedding night. He doesn’t just push past her hymen and viola! Magic orgasm…No, no, no. In truth, a girl’s first time usually has a little bit of pain and discomfort associated with it. Sometimes a lot of pain and discomfort. And sometimes the pain and discomfort doesn’t last very long because her partner may also be enjoying his first time-and he may not be able to contain his excitement, if ya know what I mean.
3) Consent- Be sure to let your child (both daughters and sons) that consent has got to be given before you have sex with someone. Consent can be a “yes” or an “okay” but if there’s a “no” somewhere, STOP right where you are. Tell them that if they’re not sure that consent was given, they should just ask-and if they’re not comfortable asking for consent, then they shouldn’t be doing what they’re trying to do.
4) Urges- I always say that it’s a good idea to let your child know that he/she is not the only person on the face of the planet who may feel the need to scrog. Although, I don’t suggest using the word “scrog” when you say it. Just let them know that their friends, whether they admit to it or not, are going through the same things that they are, and only when they are ready should they try to sate their urges.
Personally, I think a little laughter couldn’t hurt while having “the talk” just to put your curious kiddo at ease a bit. After all, you have to remember that it’s not easy talking to your parents about things that you know they do, but never want to admit that they do it. Like sex. For me, personally, I know that’s how I got here, but I really don’t like the idea of my parents being sexual beings. Yuck. Some folks, however, are perfectly comfortable thinking and knowing that their parents have sex. Your child, though, may not be one of those comfortable people. Your child may think that you and their other parent having sex is absolutely ridiculous and disgusting. No need to burst their bubble by telling them that it’s beautiful with their father/mother (unless you really want to), but you can add somewhere that sex can be a beautiful thing when shared with a partner that you trust.
For me, I think I’m more comfortable reading a few books first.