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Thursday, October 23, 2014

7 Steps To Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Growing up in a country like the Philippines, most of us matured never having had "the talk" with our parents. We, the new generation of parents, are better informed and know that talking to our kids about sex can be extremely beneficial, some benefits are:

- You control how little or how much information to give your kid
- Your kids will be more comfortable talking to you about relationships in the future. More communication, more influence.
- You get to instill your family's values into the discussion.
- Studies show that teens who have talked to parents about sex tend to delay their first sexual encounter and when they do have sex, they do so in a safe environment.

- If your kid can talk to you about sex, they will also open up to you about relationships, bullying, abuse, etc.  

So we all want to have this important discussion with our kids, the question in most parents' minds is, "How do I talk to my kid about sex?". I hope to help address this question with these 7 Steps to Talking to Your Kids About Sex.

1. Know Yourself 

It's very important to know just how much or how little you know about sex. Also be clear about your stand on important issues. What are you comfortable discussing with your child at the moment? What are your values?  These will all come into play when you talk to your child.

2. Set the Stage

Setting the stage means educating your child early on by using anatomically correct body parts. Use words like vagina, vulva, anus, penis, breasts, when you are talking to your child. Use these terms casually throughout the day. For example while giving your child a bath  you can say "It's time to wash your vulva". These words are neutral and should not be given any malice.  You can start using the correct terms as soon as your child starts talking.

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At around the age of 2-3 would be a good time to talk about the biological difference between the sexes. I would also begin introducing the idea of private parts that can only be touched by your child or the guardian cleaning it or a doctor examining. No one else.

3. Child-led Conversations

All my conversations with my child started with a question from her. I didn't push or sit her down for any unnatural talk, I just waited for openings. Here are some possible openings:

- a pregnant friend
- showing a picture of her/his birth
- pets giving birth

When my daughter asked how babies get inside the stomach of the mother I drew the internal anatomy of a woman (I memorized it from biology class) and I explained that eggs that are fertilized by the sperm settle in the uterine lining (which I drew) and very slowly grow into babies. That's it. No talk of sex just yet.

4. Keep the Answer Simple and Age Appropriate. 

Your answer should only address the question of your child. No need to go into details that are not needed at that time. In order to find out what detail is needed always ask your child "That's an interesting question. Why do you want to know?" or "What do you mean?".  There is no need to go into explicit details unnecessarily. Just answer the issue.

A few months after explaining the fertilization of egg cells in Step 3, my daughter finally asked "How does the sperm get inside your tummy?".  Here's my explanation: "When a grown man and grown woman love each other very much they want to be as close as possible. And one way that people who love each other can be close is by having sex. Sex is when the penis of a man goes inside the vagina of the woman. It fits because God made man and woman perfectly. This is how the sperm gets inside the woman"

5. Input your own morals 

This is where it gets tricky. Our kids will internalize the things that we teach them so teaching them about morality here is very important. I have a lot of relatives who gave birth out f wedlock though so I had to explain it in such a way that she understands the value of sex being done in the context of marriage without being judgmental.

Here's what I told her "Sex is something all adults can do BUT God gave us some guidelines so that we will remain safe and happy. When you are married and you have sex, you are able to enjoy the blessings of God. And when you have kids your kids will enjoy being loved and taken cared of by both mommy and daddy".

We discussed this more than once and we went into different details. This was something I didn't discuss until she was 7.

6. Don't Cram Everything in 1 Go

Talking to your kids about sex is a process. It's something you will have to repeat and review and add to throughout the years. Don't cram it all in one go or you'll be exhausted and your child will probably not understand it all.

7. Set Boundaries

This is something I failed to do and I am trying to teach her now. While sex is something we can openly discuss with each other, it would be great to explain when and where appropriate discussions about sex should take place.

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