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Do you get nervous when your child asks questions about sex?
Can you tell your children about their bodies and sex without stuttering?
Hopefully the information, websites and books listed below will make the process easier for you. Young children don't want the long answers, they just want the short and simple version. The older the child the more involved and detailed the answers will become. Do yourself and your kids justice by printing out the information below and study it carefully. When you have finished you will be better prepared to help your child through almost any discussion about sex at whatever age they are when they ask those tough questions.
Don't take short cuts, your children deserve the best from you. They are looking to you for answers about what's going on in their lives. This could be the most important topic you will encounter with your kids.
As a Christian, I believe a man and a woman should not have sex until after they are married. The statistics show fewer emotional problems and fewer suicides among teens who abstain from sex. Some the information below will talk about safe sex and the use of condoms. Condoms do not guarantee your child won't get pregnant or get a sexually transmitted disease. Do you want your child to die from aids or some other disease?
The information below is only a small sample of the available resources on the subject of talking to your kids about sex, but it is a starting place. I urge all parents to dig through this page and investigate all of its resources. If you don't put forth the effort to answer your kids questions about sex and their bodies, then down the road you may find that your teen daughter is pregnant or your son has gotten a girl pregnant. We have a topic on this site intitled, "Mom, Dad, I'm Pregnant!", which addresses the issue of teen pregnancy and how parents and teens respond to the news of having a baby. The time you take now with your children will save you and them from pain in the future.
Teach your children not to have sex until after they are married.
Print out a copy of the quiz for each parent. Do the quiz separately. Then share your answers. To find out how you scored, follow this link. Just put in the answers as they appear on your paper.
Talking to Kids about Sex: Did You Do It Right?
Most parents will say that, yes, they have talked to their child about sex. However, that conversation can sometimes be summed up in a word: "Don't!" If so, a teen will turn to friends for advice -- yikes! Some will admit they were beaten to the punch, quipping, "My child already knows enough." Rarely do parents give the guidance that a teenager wants and needs. If you are wondering whether or not you've said the right things, take this quiz contributed by Charlene Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese, iVillage's Preteen and Teen Experts, and authors of Parenting 911 and The Roller-Coaster Years. There's still time to learn how to set the record straight.
Do you think boys and girls need the same sexual advice?
Yes -- what's not good for the goose is not good for the gander
I'm not sure, because it's still a man's world
No -- girls and boys have different risk factors and so advice needs to be framed differently for each gender
If you catch your child watching Sex and the City or another program that contains sexual content, you:
Join your child and use the characters' actions as a springboard to discuss sexual choices
Order your child to turn the TV off
Sit down and see what questions may pop up
Have you conveyed to your child the message that sexual desire is positive?
Since teenagers are so full of hormones, they are apt to think that a talk about desire is same as granting permission
No -- I am way too uncomfortable and can't imagine how to broach such an intimate subject
Yes -- I have explained that human beings long for touching and sexual intimacy and that this is natural and normal
In your mind, is clothing connected to sexual messages?
Not necessarily -- girls don't always mean what others conclude from tight tops and short skirts
Most definitely -- girls who bare their navels and wear skin-tight clothes are trying to let boys know they are available
No -- fashion is sexier than it used to be, but that's a sign of the times
How do you advise your teen about birth control?
I explain that abstinence is the only way to have 100% safe sex, but I add that using condoms is essential if an adolescent has sex
To my way of thinking, the only birth control is abstinence
I'm not sure what to say -- if I advocate condoms, will that seem like giving permission?
What's the best way to sum up your sexual advice:
Wait until you are older and in love
You can express yourself sexually in small steps as you grow up
Don't do it or I'll ground you until you're 40
When you mention body parts and puberty developments do you use terms or metaphors?
I have always called a spade a spade, a penis a penis and a vagina a vagina
The less talk about genitals the better
I say private parts rather than penis and vagina, and refer to menstruation as "my friend paying a monthly visit"
If a teenager is caught having sex, what discipline tactic is best?
The child should be firmly talked to and forbidden from making that mistake again
They should not be punished for sexual decisions
Grounding -- possibly for life
Do you cover "all the bases" when you talk about sex?
Yes, I explain that sexual activity gets more intimate and define what first base, second base, third base and the homerun means
No -- we are talking about sex, not baseball
I don't think today's kids really use the first base/second base terminology
Should oral sex be a topic included in your conversations?
Not sure, it's really hard to talk about -- I'm glad the Lewinsky-Clinton scandal is over
Absolutely -- I am aware that today's young adolescents are engaging in oral sex and think that it is casual and safe
No, that is not something young teens should be exposed to
Should a nice 13-year-old be allowed to date a nice 17-year-old?
Maybe and maybe not -- I don't think age should be the deciding factor
No, because a 13-year-old may try to act older and be inclined to give in to peer pressure to smoke, drink or have sex
No, any 17-year-old who goes after a baby like that is up to no good
Is alcohol a separate talk, or should it be part of the sex dialogue?
Same talk -- no drinking, no drugs, no parking, no sex -- I feel it's necessary to restrict all of these behaviors all the time
Separate talk -- drinking and drug abuse deserve their own separate night of instruction
Same talk -- the point that drinking washes away inhibitions and drowns good sense needs to be made
How important is the topic of consent?
Not important at all because all teenagers want to do it anyway
I'm not certain how to explain that topic at all
Very important -- both boys and girls need to understand what consent looks like and sounds like, or they are at risk of being date-raped or becoming a rapist
In your opinion, sex talks are:
Fundamental to your child growing up safe, healthy and empowered
Futile because MTV, R-rated movies, TV, advertising and peers influence kids and are undoing any instructions that parents might give
Worth the effort but not very influential
What part does your sexual past play in your sexual instructions?
I have tried to separate out my sexual history and learn how best to educate my child
I was a sex-crazed adolescent so my history tells me I shouldn't take a liberal stance
I use my past mistakes as a major part in trying to influence my child
Talking With Kids AboutSex and Relationships
Most parents want to do their best in talking with their kids about sex and sexuality, but we're often not sure how to begin. Here's our advice:
Explore your own attitudes
Studies show that kids who feel they can talk with their parents about sex -- because their moms and dads speak openly and listen carefully to them -- are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior as teens than kids who do not feel they can talk with their parents about the subject. So explore your feelings about sex. If you are very uncomfortable with the subject, read some books and discuss your feelings with a trusted friend, relative, physician, or clergy member. The more you examine the subject, the more confident you'll feel discussing it.
Even if you can't quite overcome your discomfort, don't worry about admitting it to your kids. It's okay to say something like, "You know, I'm uncomfortable talking about sex because my parents never talked with me about it. But I want us to be able to talk about anything -- including sex -- so please come to me if you have any questions. And if I don't know the answer, I'll find out."
Teaching your children about sex demands a gentle, continuous flow of information that should begin as early as possible -- for instance, when teaching your toddler where his nose and toes are, include "this is your penis" or "this is your vagina" in your talks. As your child grows, you can continue her education by adding more materials gradually until she understands the subject well.
Take the initiative
If your child hasn't started asking questions about sex, look for a good opportunity to bring it up. Say, for instance, the mother of an 8-year-old's best friend is pregnant. You can say, "Did you notice that David's mommy's tummy is getting bigger? That's because she's going to have a baby and she's carrying it inside her. Do you know how the baby got inside her?" then let the conversation move from there.
Talk about more than the "Birds and the Bees"
While our children need to know the biological facts about sex, they also need to understand that sexual relationships involve caring, concern and responsibility. By discussing the emotional aspect of a sexual relationship with your child, she will be better informed to make decisions later on and to resist peer pressure. If your child is a pre-teen, you need to include some message about the responsibilities and consequences of sexual activity. Conversations with 11 and 12-year-olds, for example, should include talks about unwanted pregnancy and how they can protect themselves.
One aspect that many parents overlook when discussing sex with their child is dating. As opposed to movies, where two people meet and later end up in bed together, in real life there is time to get to know each other -- time to hold hands, go bowling, see a movie, or just talk. Children need to know that this is an important part of a caring relationship.
Give accurate, age-appropriate information
Talk about sex in a way that fits the age and stage of your child. If your 8-year-old asks why boys and girls change so much physically as they grow, you can say something like, "The body has special chemicals called hormones that tell it whether to become a boy or a girl. A boy has a penis and testicles, and when he grows older his voice gets lower and he gets more hair on his body. A girl has a vulva and vagina, and when she gets older she grows breasts and her hips grow rounder."
Anticipate the next stage of development
Children can get frightened and confused by the sudden changes their bodies begin to go through as they reach puberty. To help stop any anxiety, talk with your kids not only about their current stage of development but about the next stage, too. An 8-year-old girl is old enough to learn about menstruation, just as a boy that age is ready to learn how his body will change.
Communicate your values
It's our responsibility to let our children know our values about sex. Although they may not adopt these values as they mature, at least they'll be aware of them as they struggle to figure out how they feel and want to behave.
Talk with your child of the opposite sex
Some parents feel uncomfortable talking with their child about topics like sex if the youngster is of the opposite gender. While that's certainly understandable, don't let it become an excuse to close off conversation. If you're a single mother of a son, for example, you can turn to books to help guide you or ask your doctor for some advice on how to bring up the topic with your child. You could also recruit an uncle or other close male friend or relative to discuss the subject with your child, provided there is already good, open communication between them. If there are two parents in the household, it might feel less awkward to have the dad talk with the boy and the mom with the girl. That's not a hard and fast rule, though. If you're comfortable talking with either sons or daughters, go right ahead. Just make sure that gender differences don't make subjects like sex taboo.
Don't worry about knowing all the answers to your children's questions; what you know is a lot less important than how you respond. If you can convey the message that no subject, including sex, is forbidden in your home, you'll be doing just fine.
Questions & Answers
What's safe sex?
If two people have sexual intercourse, and one of them has HIV or another sexually transmitted disease, he could give it to his partner(s). Doctors believe that if the man wears a latex condom whenever he has intercourse, it helps to protect him and his partner from giving each other HIV. That's why people call sexual intercourse with a latex condom "safe sex."
Is it true that you can't get pregnant the first time that you have sex?
No. You can get pregnant anytime you have sexual intercourse. Wearing a latex condom, taking birth control pills, or using other contraceptives are very effective at preventing pregnancy. However, the only absolute way to not get pregnant is to not have sex at all. You might also use this question as an opportunity to point out that not having sexual intercourse is a good idea for teens. Help them understand there are other ways to show affection.
Talking to your children about love, intimacy, and sex is an important part of parenting. Parents can be very helpful by creating a comfortable atmosphere in which to talk to their children about these issues. However, many parents avoid or postpone the discussion. Each year about one million teenage girls become pregnant in the United States and three million teens get a sexually transmitted disease. Children and adolescents need input and guidance from parents to help them make healthy and appropriate decisions regarding their sexual behavior since they can be confused and over stimulated by what they see and hear. Information about sex obtained by children from the Internet can often be inaccurate and/or inappropriate.
Talking about sex may be uncomfortable for both parents and children. Parents should respond to the needs and curiosity level of their individual child, offering no more or less information than their child is asking for and is able to understand. Getting advice from a clergyman, pediatrician, family physician, or other health professional may be helpful. Books that use illustrations or diagrams may aid communication and understanding.
Children have different levels of curiosity and understanding depending upon their age and level of maturity. As children grow older, they will often ask for more details about sex. Many children have their own words for body parts. It is important to find out words they know and are comfortable with to make talking with them easier. A 5-year-old may be happy with the simple answer that babies come from a seed that grows in a special place inside the mother. Dad helps when his seed combines with mom's seed which causes the baby to start to grow. An 8-year-old may want to know how dad's seed gets to mom's seed. Parents may want to talk about dad's seed (or sperm) coming from his penis and combining with mom's seed (or egg) in her uterus. Then the baby grows in the safety of mom's uterus for nine months until it is strong enough to be born. An 11-year-old may want to know even more and parents can help by talking about how a man and woman fall in love and then may decide to have sex.
It is important to talk about the responsibilities and consequences that come from being sexually active. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and feelings about sex are important issues to be discussed. Talking to your children can help them make the decisions that are best for them without feeling pressured to do something before they are ready. Helping children understand that these are decisions that require maturity and responsibility will increase the chance that they make good choices.
Adolescents are able to talk about lovemaking and sex in terms of dating and relationships. They may need help dealing with the intensity of their own sexual feelings, confusion regarding their sexual identity, and sexual behavior in a relationship. Concerns regarding masturbation, menstruation, contraception, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted diseases are common. Some adolescents also struggle with conflicts around family, religious or cultural values. Open communication and accurate information from parents increases the chance that teens will postpone sex and will use appropriate methods of birth control once they begin.
In talking with your child or adolescent, it is helpful to:
Encourage your child to talk and ask questions.
Maintain a calm and non-critical atmosphere for discussions.
Use words that are understandable and comfortable.
Try to determine your child's level of knowledge and understanding.
Keep your sense of humor and don't be afraid to talk about your own discomfort.
Relate sex to love, intimacy, caring, and respect for oneself and one's partner.
Be open in sharing your values and concerns.
Discuss the importance of responsibility for choices and decisions.
Help your child to consider the pros and cons of choices.
By developing open, honest and ongoing communication about responsibility, sex, and choice, parents can help their youngsters learn about sex in a healthy and positive manner.
The websites below are only a small portion of the information available. Some of these sites may lead you to more valuable information on a variety of topics to discuss with your children.
Sex Ed: Talking with your kids about sex Open communication with your children about sex is important. Here are some tips to help get you started. http://www.parenting.ivillage.com/teen/tdating/0,,48nn,00.html
Talking to Your Kids About Sex Talking to your kids about sex can be one of the trickier assignments for fathers. When you do start the discussion? How much should you say? http://www.fatherhood.about.com/od/agesandstages/a/talkingaboutsex.htm
Talking To Your Kids About Sex - WebMD Talking to children about sexual health and safe sexual decisions helps them to develop a cautious, healthy attitude towards sex. http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/talking-to-your-kids-about-sex
TALKING TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SEX Talking to your children about love, intimacy, and sex is an important part of parenting. Parents can be very helpful by creating a comfortable atmosphere ... http://www.puberty101.com/aacap_talksex.shtml
How to Talk to Your Child About Sex | eHow.com How to Talk to Your Child About Sex. More than 25 percent of 15-year-olds have had sexual intercourse - many start as early as age 12 or 13 - so it's wise ... http://www.ehow.com/how_18819_talk-child-about.html
*DISCLAIMER: The information we provide on this site is FREE, however some of the websites and resources we list do charge for their products or services. While we do research each website we list here, we hold no responsibility as to any guarantee of these products or services you use from these websites. If you have problems you must contact them directly. If you have any problems with any of these websites or you feel their content should not be on this website, send us an e-mail: info@A-Better-Child.org. We will then take a look at the website and take the appropriate action.