Ethelyn Sharpe- PEN Parent Educator out of Cheyenne
Where do babies come from? What is sex? Why are boys and girls different? These are all questions that can make parents stutter and stammer. Why is it so hard for us to talk to our children about sex? Is there an easy way? Most experts agree that keeping things simple and the lines of communication open are key elements to talking to children about sex, but even with those ideas in place, it’s not easy! Hopefully, here are some tips to make it a little less painful!
Do keep it simple. Start with minimal information, and wait for your child to ask another question. Young children might be satisfied with “mom has a special place in her body that grows a baby”, where an older child will want to know how the baby got there.
Decide with your partner what values you want to teach to your children. What do you want to teach, as a family? Abstinence, responsible premarital sex? When do you talk about birth control? For daughters, is using Birth Control Pills an option? If so, at what age? Are you willing to buy condoms for your sons?
Use outside resources. As mentioned in the previous blog, talk to your pediatrician. Also, books are a good option. Clergymen and school counselors can also be a great resource.
Keep your sense of humor. Let’s face it, sometimes things are just funny. Being able to laugh and not treat the subject as “taboo” does help keep the lines of communication open.
Betty Carmon- Parent to Parent Coordinator- Powell Region
As a parent with 3 adult children, the youngest (23) with Autism, talking about sex can be a tough subject. I have always believed that sex should not be a “secret subject”. To overcome barriers I have found my family pediatrician to be very helpful. This person can introduce issues of physical, cognitive, and psychosexual development to parents and their children at an early age and continue discussions at most visits throughout adolescence and young adulthood. When sexuality is discussed routinely and openly, conversations are easier to initiate. I found in my own experience that this allowed for more comfortable conversations to continue with all my children. Medical professionals can explore the expectations of parents for their child’s sexual development while providing general, factual information about sexuality in people with similar disabilities. With insights into the normal stages of child and adolescent sexual development, parents can better understand their own child’s behaviors. For example, by recognizing that masturbation is normal toddler behavior, parents can better understand and shape the self-stimulatory behaviors of their teenager who functions developmentally at the level of a 3-year-old child. The problem is not the child’s behaviors per se but the inability to distinguish between behaviors that are publicly and privately appropriate. All of this “background” information is good to know when considering HOW to talk with your kids about hard subjects!