Like many people of my generation, my first lesson about sex was awkward and uncomfortable. My mom sat me down and gave me the one-and-done talk, and never mentioned anything about sex again. There was no mention in this conversation of sexual pleasure, masturbation, sexual orientation or any other consideration that arises when we begin our journey toward sexual maturity.
As a mother, I vowed to do it differently. I have always wanted sex to be a natural, non-taboo topic in our home, and for my kids to feel totally comfortable asking me questions and sharing with me.
Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years — both from experience and from the experts I’ve interviewed:
- Generally, the earlier you start talking about sex, the easier it is.
- We worry so much about ‘getting it right’ that we often avoid it (or we put it off for as long as possible.) Talking is better than not talking.
- A good way to start is to ask them what they already know or what they are curious about. This is a gentle way to ease into the conversation and allows you to follow their lead and answer their questions.
- It doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be one big conversation, but rather lots of conversations building on each other. Checking in and continuing the discussion is important.
- Get comfortable with the words and topics before you talk to your kids so you don’t pass on your own embarrassment or discomfort.
- Use proper words for body parts.
- If it feels awkward, try raising the topic when you’re doing something else like baking in the kitchen, walking the dog, or watching a show. (Standing side by side is often easier than face-on.)
- We can’t rely on schools to educate our kids about sex. If we want our kids to feel comfortable coming to us with questions or sharing experiences with us, we have to let them know we are comfortable talking about these topics. It starts with us!
- We shouldn’t avoid talking about pleasure. It’s important for both boys and girls to know that anyone who is engaging in sexual activities should be doing so because they find it pleasurable, they’re driven by desire (not pressure) or because it’s a natural expression of their love for their partner.
- Remember, talking about sex doesn’t make kids have more sex. The opposite is true! Education is always a positive thing.
For more tips, information and discussions and to hear what the experts have to say, sign up for my Tweens & Teens e-course!