Having the “sex talk” with your child is more important than ever. There are a lot of myths about what happens if we talk to children and teens about sex and sexuality. The following are 3 of the top myths I encounter in my work.
Yesterday we got news that the federal government is cutting $213.6 million in teen pregnancy prevention programs and research. We cannot rely on the government or schools to provide the sorely needed education our children need. So it’s more important now more than ever to make sure you have the skills and tools you need to keep your children safe. Make sure you are not letting anything stop you from these life-saving and life-enhancing conversations.
Myth #1: You need to have a “talk”
One of the most common misconceptions parents have is that there is a “sex talk.” There is no one “sex talk.” Sexuality education is a conversation of a lifetime that will evolve as your children grow.
Sex is like Math
Think of sexuality education like teaching math. Do you ever have just one talk about math? No, we start with basics and build from there as they get older. You have to learn to add and subtract before you can do long division! Same thing with sexuality education. Start with making sure they know the correct names for their body parts, especially their “sexual” body parts.
The Proper Name
Do you feel uncomfortable saying them or feel they are too clinical? That is because you didn’t get this kind of education from the adults in your life! As adults we need to get comfortable with saying those words. To children they are just names, like elbow and nose. Practice in the mirror till you can say “vulva” and “penis” and “scrotum” without shame, discomfort, or trepidation. Then practice with another adult. Your kids will pick up on your discomfort! Remember, practice makes perfect!
Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
You want to be the kind of parent your kids talk to about the difficult and uncomfortable stuff right?
Myth #2: It will give them ideas
Parents and society often think that if you have a sex talk with children, this will lead children to experiment more or “give them ideas”. The more children know and the more trusted resources they have around them, the less likely they will find themselves in harmful situations. And if they do, they know where to turn.
Myth #3: If I don’t’ bring it up, they won’t be exposed to it
We are all sexuality educators of our children, whether you like it or not. Children learn from watching our behavior, our speech, our relationships with ourselves and with others, and more! The only choice parents really have is whether they’ll be educating their children about sexuality in an intentional or in an unintentional way.
- how we talk about our bodies
- how we communicate with our friends and partners
- how we touch people (with love and tenderness or in anger)
- if we are silent about sexuality
- how we express our gender identity
- messages we send about who it’s ok to love
- how you use power in regards to making someone kiss or hug an elder
These are all educating moments in children’s sexuality. If we are intentional about their education, we can send more positive messages about sexuality. And we can make sure we’re conveying messages that include the values we want to leave with our children as they grow into sexually healthy adults.
Don’t let misinformation or fear stand in your way. Start or continue the dialogue with your children. They will thank you for it!
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