Is it time to talk about the “Birds and the Bees”?
- Is your child starting to pay more attention to the differences in human bodies?
- Is your child asking more questions about sexuality and sex?
- Is your child showing an interest in exploring their body?
Then it may be time to have a conversation! First, you should know that the conversation won’t be about the birds and the bees. Why we continue to use that as a euphemism to discuss sex with children and young adults still eludes me. Talking to your child about sex and sexuality can be a nerve-racking conversation for any parent to attempt to tackle. However, these conversations are vital to your child’s development and understanding of their body. Although the world of sexual education has come a long way, many parents still fear that having these conversations with their children will encourage them to have sex. While that concern is valid, we have found that children and young people want to learn about sexuality and sex. As parents, you do your best to pass on your beliefs and values to your child and maintain some control over what they can access. However, most of the time, the information they will get about sex and relationships is learned from their friends (Blake, 2002). Believing that they are too young or that sex is not currently on their radar could harm their understanding of their bodies and how to navigate intimate relationships. Without having a safe place to discuss sex, sexuality, and relationships, young people will lack the needed skills to navigate tricky situations they encounter in their friendships and relationships (Blake, 2002). Having these conversations helps remove the shame that is often experienced while trying to understand and embrace one’s sexuality. Opening the lines of communication between you and your child can save them the embarrassment and shame of having to figure it out by themselves. It also allows you to express your concerns and expectations as they are growing and maturing. These conversations are needed but can be hard to get started. Here are some steps to help you navigate these conversations:
- Embrace the nerves and awkwardness You all are feeling it, so go ahead and say it!
- Remember, you don’t have to be an expert! They don’t expect you to know everything, and you all can seek answers together
- Encourage their willingness to share, don’t shame them! Most children are hesitant to share with their parents the fear of getting in trouble. Create a safe space for you all to have an honest discussion
- Keep it age-appropriate
- Have an open mind and heart
- Don’t fall into the trap of Unspoken Expectations! We aren’t born knowing how to navigate relationships and sexuality. Explaining some boundaries you have when it comes to this topic is essential for them to know
- Take advantage of teachable moments. Children have more access to technology to find all kinds of things. When they bring something up that they read or saw, help them process it.
- Check-in regularly
- Seek assistance
Blake, S. (2002). Sex and relationships education: A step-by-step guide for teachers. David Fulton Publishers.
Stepping Stones Therapist