Let’s face it; the dreaded talk about the birds and the bees is never a comfortable subject… especially with your kids. It does not matter what words you say, or how you phrase it; it is extremely wearisome. And it seems like kids always have exceedingly horrific questions in their heads about sexual matters. For example: several years ago, when my wife and I had just started dating we were out at lunch with my parents and little brother. Conversation had died down as we began to eat our delicious (meaning: free for me) food. Then a curious expression took over my little brother’s face. The kind of expression that should warn anybody that something terrible could possibly be uttered out of a ten year olds mouth at any second. And, before you could say “Dear Jesus” the question erupted out of his mouth; in the incredibly loud, high pitched way only a child could muster, “Dad, what’s a ***********?!”
*Note: For the sake of this article, I had to refrain from writing the phrase used…but imagine something horribly inappropriate that would even make Jesus himself use his name in vain.
It seemed like the whole restaurant had heard his question…mostly because all eyes of every patron were on our table; mouths agape with half chewed food, and because everyone in a five-mile radius had most likely heard what was asked. My Mother quietly said, “We’ll talk about it later,” as we all sheepishly sunk down in our seats, trying to figure out how to get Calgon to take us away.
My brother had done nothing wrong. He had a question, and so he asked…that is what kids do. But, too often, we tend to push these questions and matters aside because we deem them inappropriate, vulgar, or too uncomfortable to answer or talk about. But, here lies the issue: kids do have questions and they seek answers…and they will find the answers whether you respond or not.
Sex is a huge part of life (you can’t have life without sex!) By the time your child has reached puberty, like it or not they are physically equipped for sex. As we all know, puberty takes quite awhile, and children will start to experience changes both physically and mentally. But, the dark reality is, puberty starts a lot sooner than what we tend to expect. For the average boy, puberty could start at age 9, and girls age 8!  Which makes it not surprising that nearly half of high school students admit to have had sex by the age of 17. We are sexual creatures who naturally have urges for sexual things. And teenagers…even young teenagers…are no different. Sex is on the mind from a young age. So what do we do?
1.Talking about sex should not be a one-time occurrence. I think often parents think that giving the old sex talk is a one-time deal. It usually starts with, “You see, when a Mommy and a Daddy love each other…” and ends with a, “Don’t have sex till you are 45.” But, to a kid, that is never good enough. And as your child starts to get older, and sexual desires start to develop inside them, if there has been a lack of communication in the past, a wall has been built between them and you. And if this wall has been built, they will no longer seek out the answers from you, but rather, answer the question themselves. And so we have to ask, where are these answers coming from?
In a lot of cases the answers come from friends at school. Which, when you think about it, is a very scary thing. It is ignorance teaching ignorance, right? I remember in 7th grade when I heard about masturbation for the first time (another term was used however). I remember sitting at the lunch table as my friend across from me explained how he partook in this act, which included many hand gestures and vibrant stories. I had honestly never heard about this “act” before, and I remember the sinking feeling I got as my friend explained it to me. It was like finding out Santa Claus does not exist. For some reason, in my mind as a child, finding out about things pertaining to sex was devastating to me; especially when I found out at school. But let’s be honest, the world is not the same as it was just 10 years ago. Your child has probably seen pornographic images in one form or another. It is honestly easy to access such things, even as a kid. This is how your child is defining their view on sex: by what they have heard at school, by what they have seen, and by what they have done. You, as a parent, have the responsibility to have conversations with your kids about sex. You need to be the one defining their view, not they themselves. Whether it is comfortable or not; many conversations is key.
2. Create an open environment. A lot of times we make sex a bad thing (which is one reason I think teens want to partake in it so much.) We, at a very young age for our kids, teach them that genitalia are “bad” or “naughty.” We give them awful code names that make no sense. We, ourselves, as parents and adults start building that wall between ourselves and our kids. So, if you want to be an influence in your child’s life, you have to create an open environment; one that shows your child that it is alright to ask questions without being judged. This concept can work on all levels with your kids.
3. Answer the Questions. Your child will ask some outrageous questions when it comes to sex. That is a good thing! Do not write off these questions; take the time to answer them. It goes without saying; you need to make the answers age appropriate. But, ignoring the questions is not healthy.
4. Depend on yourself, not others. One of the biggest mistakes I think parents make is when they depend on others teaching their kids right from wrong, instead of their self. Never depend on school or church teaching your child right from wrong…especially when it comes to sex (My sex ed teacher in junior high told us that sex is fun…why would I not want to try it?) If anything, church and school should merely re-enforce what you have already taught your child, not the other way around.
Our culture is rapidly growing into an even more depraved and sexualized organism. As parents, we have to be ever more willing to be open to asking and answering questions that pertain to sex with our children, as well as creating an environment that is healthy enough to let our children know that we are here for them. Sure, it is uncomfortable at times talking about such things…but no matter how uncomfortable it is for you, remember how uncomfortable it is for your kids!