Sex Is Not A 4-Letter Word (And Our Kids Need Us To Stop Acting Like It Is)

by Melanie Gangolf
Originally Published: 
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I have always been a pretty open person. It is one of my biggest character flaws. I have the tendency to disclose too much, too quickly with people who are just acquaintances. During a conversation about how expensive wedding dresses are today, I am the woman who discloses with a laugh that my husband and I got married when I was 3 months pregnant.

Yes, I am that woman.

This trait has caused many properly dressed women at the PTA meeting to lift an eyebrow or two at one of my random comments. This trait has had one great benefit though: It has led me to have a very open and honest relationship with my kids. We talk about everything and anything. We even talk about “it.”

“It” — this is the way my friends and I referred to sex when we were 16. We talked about who was doing it and who wasn’t, should we do it or shouldn’t we, would we did it or wouldn’t we. But that was a different time. That was the ’80s. Parents really didn’t talk to their kids about sex back then. You might have gotten the “talk” when you turned 16, but that was about it. We were on our own to figure “it” out.

But it is 2017 now. Our attitudes are different. We are more open-minded. We communicate more with our kids, right?


It turns out that many parents still do not talk to their kids regularly about sex, and if you are one of those parents, you are making a huge mistake. Because “it” is everywhere.

And of course “it” is all over the internet. Okay, enough with the “it” — let’s be frank. We are talking about sex. You know, knocking boots, hiding the sausage, doing the nasty, getting it on. Now if you think that your son or daughter is somehow oblivious to all of this, you would be wrong. About 85–90% of kids 13 and up in middle-class America have cellphones with internet capabilities. So even if your kid does not have a cell phone, chances are the kid they are sitting beside on the bus does.

We have a generation of teens under the impression that porn is realistic. “What, my child? Never. They have not seen porn,” so many say. Well, I bet it would surprise you that one study reports that during adolescence, 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to online pornography, whether they were seeking it or not.

So as our kids plow through the proverbial fields of puberty, there are things they need to know. There will be questions that will need to be answered. It is more important than ever that you are the one they go to for this information. You want it to be your voice in their head when important decisions need to be made. Here are my five rules for getting my kids to talk to me about sex and everything else. Mind you, I am not an expert on sex. I am just an expert on being an awesome mom. So here goes.

1. Listen and Watch

Sometimes they are asking big questions disguised as little ones. You need to listen, or you will miss them. Sometimes a question or a problem will be hidden in a statement like, “They don’t want me to go anyway.” You will know by the look in their eyes and the lilt in their voice. Just be quiet sometimes.

2. Talk to Them, Not at Them

Talk about everything and anything. Find a good place with no distraction that you can talk, like the car or on a walk. Talk often. If they are comfortable talking to you about small stuff, that will lead to the big stuff, so be involved. Know their friends. Don’t ask them general questions like, “How was your day?” Ask them how they did on their science test. Really know them.

3. Be Honest

After you get past Santa, don’t lie about anything. Not your money problems or your marriage problems or that you snuck a cigarette when you took the dog for a walk. Nothing. Because they know anyway. They know you better than you think. They have been studying you their whole life. Don’t lie about any of that stuff, and when they need to ask you the big stuff, they will be confident that you won’t lie to them. Always be honest.

4. Be Vulnerable Sometimes

Your kids want to know you. They want to know you value them as a person and a confidant. Disclose to them some things about yourself that are not so great, like how you stole a candy bar when you were 12 or how you talked about your best friend behind their back. They will be able relate to you. Disclose your feelings to them and how you righted those situations. Tell them you are nervous or sad about something. They will trust you because of it and will come to you when they need you. Don’t pretend you are perfect. It will backfire.

5. Be Funny

Don’t take yourself or difficult situations too seriously. Don’t overreact about stuff that doesn’t matter too much. Laughter is a great healer and a fantastic bonding agent. A family that can laugh through hard situations will fare better than the one that cannot. Kids want to be happy, so allow them to be.

Now, I know what you are thinking: This list has nothing to do with talking to my kids about sex. And you would be right. The reason is because talking to your kids about sex actually has little to do with sex. It has to do with your relationship with them. It has to do with your openness with them. It has to do with your honesty with them. It has to do with your love for them. If you have all of these things covered, a little conversation about a blow job is a piece of cake.

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