Some of my kids are getting to an age where we need to have “the sex talk”. Mark and I have been strategizing how to do this, because it’s a really big value for us that a) our kids get their sex education from us first, and b) our kids feel comfortable coming to us with any questions or concerns about sex. We also feel really strongly that the “sex talk” should not be a one-time thing but rather an ongoing conversation, because kids need to know different things at different developmental stages. In preschool, they need to know that private parts are not for others to touch. In grade school, they need to know the mechanics of how babies are born. In middle school, they need to know about masturbation. In high school . . . well, that’s a whole other can of worms.
We’ve been trying to figure out how to make sure we stay on top of the ongoing sex talk instead of falling into the trap of having one big conversation and then dropping the subject. We hatched this brilliant plan: we will revisit the subject annually, going over what they know, adding any new information that we think is important in the coming year, and offering an opportunity for them to ask anything they want. Of course, we’re open to talking about sex any time they have a question and want to bring it up. But we want to set up a time for conversation where we are really intentional, because life moves quick.
We were brainstorming how to keep track of our annual sex talks with the kids. We thought about doing birthdays, but really, what adolescent wants a sex talk with their parents on their birthday? We thought about Valentines Day but again, that seemed to be hijacking a holiday that they may not appreciate. Finally we settled on Labor Day, because a) “labor” reminds us of babies being born, and that’s the crux of the convo at this age, and b) honestly, we don’t really have much of a traditional around this holiday beyond grilling, so it seems like a benign choice.
So, tomorrow we’ll have a sex talk with each of our kids, based on their age and emotional maturity. And we’ll do the same next year and the year after until they move out of our house. I’m hoping this tradition can help make it a comfortable topic for them, and that it can also serve as a reminder to us to set aside the time and space for this important ongoing conversation.
How do you talk to your kids about sex? Any tips for encouraging kids to feel comfortable with the subject? I’d love to hear any advice or experience from parents with older kids!
P.S. There are some of my favorite books for talking to kids about sex. I particularly love It’s Not the Stork and It’s So Amazing because they used very inclusive language and talk about adoption as a way families are formed.