The first time I talked about sex with my oldest son, he was in kindergarten. I was a bit late to the party though – someone had already told him “how to make sex” and let’s just say he’s gotten some of the body parts wrong.
I wanted my son to hear the real way to have sex and I wanted him to hear it from me. I figured I could take the opportunity to tell him since we were already halfway there, or I could wait and hope for the best.
Our talk was short and sweet and he wasn’t uncomfortable at all. It was then I realized that I’d need to talk to him and his siblings about sex even more when they got older because that’s when, as a kid, I needed the most information about it.
They’ve all had boyfriends or girlfriends. I remind them to use protection if they are going to have sex. They know where I stand on casual, consensual sex thanks to our local radio station that talks very openly about sex. We listen to it every morning on the way to school and that’s my time to chime in with my reminders and two cents.
Here’s why the sex talk is hardly a one-time-only chat in our house.
I don’t want them to think sex is bad.
It’s not. And by not talking about it I think it closes a door. If I’m open and talk about things in a relaxed way, they’re more likely to come to me with questions or concerns, which they do.
I want them to know nothing is off limits.
I never want them to think they can’t talk to me about something. Sure, it’s uncomfortable and they would much rather talk to their friends about sex, but I know more than their friends do. Even if I’m not their first choice I want them to know that they can come to me and tell or ask me anything. They need to know I’m not going to have a bird because they’ve had sex.
I am their safe space.
Even if they are fine going a long time not talking to me about sex, something could happen with a partner that confuses them, they don’t know how to deal with, or they are too embarrassed to tell a friend for fear it might get around school.
I want to be their confidant and give them peace of mind that I can handle the situation without judgment and help them if they need it.
Let’s face it, there’s a lot to learn and be confused about.
Things have changed a lot since I was a teenager in the ‘80s and ‘90s. On top of that, sex and relationships are confusing; those things can trigger anyone. If they have someone they trust, and can talk things out with, it can make all the difference.
The more you talk about it, the easier it is for everyone.
It’s just like using a muscle over and over. The more you talk about sex with your kids, the easier it is for everyone involved.
As the CDC helpfully suggests, “Although you may know that having ‘the talk’ with your teen about sex and HIV, STD, and pregnancy prevention is important, having a series of discussions that begin early, happen often, and continue over time can make more of a difference than a single conversation.”
The evidence doesn’t lie: talking to your kids frequently about sex has its benefits.