I have heard nearly every reason why parents do not like talking to their kids about sex. But they all share one thing in common.
Fear of starting
Fear of getting it wrong
Fear of doing it wrong
Sounds kind of like losing your virginity!
These are vulnerable conversations, make no mistake, but don’t let these common fears stop you from being your child’s go-to person.
Talking about it will only give them ideas
Will being honest about sex make your child want to run out and be sexual? Did talking about the health benefits of brussel sprouts make her ask for extra helpings of greens with every meal?
Children are naturally curious and desire answers from a source they can trust. But most often their curiosity is fleeting once satisfied. You only have to thwart a young child’s quest for answers to watch her persist with a more determined line of enquiry.
Be honest, direct, simple.
Answer the question you have been asked. 9 times out of 10 she will have forgotten about it by the time your heart rate returns to normal.
I have no idea how to start the conversation
Let me be really clear. This is not the one “birds and bees” conversation. This is a series of everyday, ever evolving conversationS about body image, relationships, feelings, boundaries, respect, consent, AND sexuality.
Use every day happenings to gently open conversations about topics you feel are really relevant. And use the best tool you have in your kit – media. You can start 52 different conversations about relationships, gender roles, consent, boundaries & sexuality during one Disney movie if you are paying attention.
They are too young to talk about that
Talking to your child about their body, how it works, taking care of it, respecting it, and sharing it, begins at BIRTH. The research is absolutely crystal clear on this. The younger a child is engaged in healthy conversations about this, the better the outcomes in terms of relationships, self esteem, boundaries and even use of birth control.
I don’t like sex myself
This is perhaps the single, biggest hurdle to overcome as a parent – your own issues about your body, your relationships and sex. No matter what comes out of your mouth, what you are modelling counts much more.
To every parent, I say – you owe it to your children to have a look at these aspects of your life.
I am afraid of being “that” parent
Every parent who attends a forum with me is terrified of receiving the phone call from a non attending, outraged parent who just heard the word VULVA used in their house – by YOUR child.
This is going to happen at some stage probably.
And I tell them to do one thing.
Unless we take some action and change this landscape for our children, they are going to be exactly like us – fumbling around until their 30’s 40’s (and even later) wishing that someone had clued them in so they didn’t go through so much pain, embarrassment, confusion & heartache. Be that someone for your child.
I might not have the answer they need
I promise you, at some point, you won’t. But a friend, another parent, or google (god forbid!) might have the answer you need. You just need to buy yourself enough time to go out and find it.
Don’t make up a nooncy story to cover up your knowledge gap.
Be honest, ask for time and then GO BACK and give them the answer they were after
As a dad, it is not “right” for me to talk to my young daughter about sex
I meet a lot of men who are frightened of being labelled a “pervert” or “peado” if they are seen to be talking to their daughter about sex. It is a very real fear for men, and one that stops some of the greatest conversations a girl can have with their dad.
As their dad you can give them a unique insight into the opposite sex, you can teach her about self respect, body image and relationships in a way that her mother cannot.
You have something very real & valuable to add to this conversation – do not let anyone make you believe any different
They might tell me something terrible
It is every parent’s fear that their child will be hurt. And sometimes, I hate to say, once the conversations start you might hear a story of bullying, aggression, hurt or worse.
No parent wants this to happen.
But you need to know. You need to be your child’s go to person in these moments. And if your child knows you are resilient in this area and open to talking honestly – they will come to you.
If they do disclose anything of this nature – listen hard, ask questions, get facts and take it seriously.
Can’t they just google it?
Have you ever tried googling “is my penis the right size?” – apart from now, because now I know you will.
Kids are commonly seeing porn as young as 11 – and this is how it happens most of the time. A normal, curious question taken into the search engine of shit and met with a pornographic answer to a healthy developmental question.
Google is the LAST place you want your child going to for answers.
They teach sex ed in school
I urge all of you to make an appointment with your child’s teacher and ask to see the lesson plan and content for the sex ed modules for the year. It may not be what you think.
Teachers are overwhelmed and under resourced and sex ed is one of the last things on the curriculum to get the time and attention it needs. And to be honest, these are conversations that need to be happening in the home.
It is not right, nor is it fair to expect teachers to be solely responsible for this, as well as the academic development of your child.
Did I miss any reason? If you have another hurdle you want help overcoming, come along to a Courageous Conversations Parent Seminar. We are in NSW, QLD and Victoria in FEBRUARY!!