How To Talk to Kids about Sex
Some Top Tips for Parents
One of the areas I support schools with more than any other is Sex and Relationships Education or SRE. It is an area of concern to professionals and parents alike, both worry that keeps yet the best education they can have in a way that will not either encourage experimentation or put them off for life!
Many parents of boys simply don’t bother with any sex education as such, they explain the biological processes the ‘pipes and plumbing’ aspects but leave all the rest to school or the media. In this day and age more than any other, boys get a lot of their viewpoints and understandings about sex and relationships from pornography which is so readily available via the Internet, mobile phones, even the digital TV channels between 90 and 100! (If you didn’t know they were there check them out after 10.30 at night, you might be surprised at what you see.)
Is this really the way we want our young men to see human sexuality? Devoid of humanity or care-or pubic hair for that matter! Boys need to learn about responsibility within relationships, feelings within sex, the differences between men and women psychologically and emotionally as well as physically, how intimacy is created and maintained and how to communicate about sex, sexual feelings and emotions as well as the usual biological areas such as sexually transmitted infections, contraception, pregnancy and parenting.
All of be above are just as relevant for girls but they also need to understand that love is not a career choice but an enhancement to life that needs to be considered and managed like any other aspect of being. Too many young women gear their life choices around their emotional responses rather than the other way round. Some would say this is natural but if that were the case then all women would do it, and they don’t. Learning to be an independent but emotionally available adult is a key area of Sex and Relationships Education for girls.
Most of our view of what constitutes appropriate relationship of behaviour comes from our observation of the relationships we’ve grown up with. Unfortunately for many kids today they do not see stable and loving relationships at home, and many boys are growing up without any consistent and positive male role models at home. Where this is the case it is even more important that boys have good and honest discussions about sex and relationships from an early age.
So here are my top tips for talking to kids about sex and relationships
- Talk when a relevant situation arises, e.g. a soap opera featuring a pregnant girl, celebrity pregnant at a young age, another footballer/glamour model scandal etc.
- Get a good book for them, or preferably several – the FPA have a list of resources on their website . Make sure you’ve had a good look at it yourself first as there may well be some questions.
- Check out and bookmark some approved websites. You might like to bookmark some for them and some for you too.
- Be aware of the magazines that can be accessed by your child’s age group and ask them questions about content – you might be surprised by the messages about sexuality and sexual behaviour even magazines for 8 – 10 year olds contain.
- Ask your child to consider simple questions – what kind of things make for a good partner – kindness, chattiness, friendliness. Explore with them what they consider a good relationship and when they might decide either to stay with the relationship, or to move on. Even if they are only 5 or 6 they can begin to understand that relationships that don”t work can be changed or left.
- Try talking things through on car journeys, preferably when they are on their own – the lack of eye contact and closed environment both helps intimacy, and allows anyone, if things do get uncomfortable, to choose to stare out of the window without embarrassment.
- Talk about issues and topics when they are relevant, as they crop up. Talk one-to-one on some things or as a family for others. Be sensitive to their changing perspectives and development.
- Never ever tease them about their crushes, feelings or puberty. If you do they may shut you out, and it may be for good.
- Have moral conversations with your child – take the opportunity whenever possible. Talk about how choices are made rather than moral judgements, about decision making and taking your time to choose. Don’t dictate on what should or should not happen (they won’t respond to this anyway because they like to think they know it all).
- And most importantly of all ask don’t tell. Allow then to form their own understanding and values by asking what they think about …., what they think the right thing for someone to do when …. etc.
© Madja | Dreamstime.com