Talking with your kids about sex is never easy. It takes courage, a little bit of hardwork and lots of practice. But giving your child honest, straightforward information about sexual health is the best way to support them in having a healthy sexual life, including protecting them from unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Below are some tips that might help you navigate the murky waters of talking with your kids about sex.
Know your comfortable level when it comes to sex talk.
Getting a sense of your own comfort is crucial. The well-meaning parent who is so uncomfortable talking with their kids about sex might inadvertently communicate a lot of negative messages about sexuality. Take some time to imagine conversations at different ages and stages in your child's life.
Ideally sex education should not be provided to kids in a reactionary fashion. Rather, it should be given from the beginning in an indirect manner. This means the child has to have a strong sense of identity and an understanding of what his or her values are. It is important to explain to kids why they should hold those values. For example, why do you not approve of sex outside of marriage, whether this is for religious and/or health reasons.
Be an example.
This goes hand in hand with being a role model, which is the best way to teach and transmit values to children. This means not only should children be exposed to a healthy male-female relationship when they see their parents. It also means parents do not engage in activities which undermine their views on sexuality.
Clarify your own sexual values.
Knowing how to talk to your kids about sex is often complicated by the fact that few of us spend time considering our own sexual values. Sexual values are the beliefs, priorities, prejudices, thoughts and feelings we have about sex, sexuality, and gender. Our sexual values will change over time and experience. But knowing how we feel about key issues of sexuality can go a long way to communicating clear and helpful information to our children.
Use age - appropriate sex information.
Present your child with information that is appropriate for their age, in a way that they can understand, and don't give them more information than they're ready to hear. If you're not sure how to gauge this, you may want to look for resources on sex education in your local library.
Don't pretend to have all the answers.
There is no way you will ever have answers to all your children's questions. Admitting this to your kids can teach them that no one has all the answers (and that you are human like the rest of us) may well turn into a chance to help them learn where to find their own answers (a trip to the library, or a previously checked-out, credible sexual health website might be in order).
As a parent, you should know all these aspects of talking to your child about sex education.
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