February 02, 2011,
V.P. asks from Hampton Bays, NY on February 02, 2011
Sex Education Advice
My question is in response to an article that was posted here a couple days ago, "Is your sex life shaping your kids?" It was a good article that triggered my own questions as to how I will introduce, model and be a positive conduit to my children regarding sex. I come from a household that never spoke about sex. I had to learn about it on my own, which is definitely not the thing to do for so many reasons...in a nutshell, it was dangerous, it demeaned its amazing experience and has left me uncomfortable talking about it. Luckily I have some time but before then I have a lot to learn about how to introduce and talk about it with my kids. I want to be free and open about it, I don't want my children to have the same experience as I did. I don't want them to be shy or uncomfortable about it around me and I want them to be willing and open to express what they feel to me. So I am asking those of you who have had a positive experience, can you share specific stories? or specific ways in which it was talked about? What are some concrete examples that made you comfortable and open to talking about it? For someone who was never invited to talk about it with my parents, it is difficult for me to imagine the scene of what a comfortable conversation or experience would be. Your help and experience is so helpful to me! Thank you!
2 moms found this helpful
J.B. answers from Atlanta on February 02, 2011
For whatever reason, I've always been extremely open and found it easy to discuss sex with just about anyone. My mother was fairly open with me, and I appreciate that, because she was pretty prudish herself! I know she didn't want me to be in the dark like her mother kept her though. I'm honestly not quite sure why it's never been embarrassing for me.
Anyway, I felt like I had really jumped a hurdle and could talk about sex with anyone during my first year teaching. I was given a "provisional" certificate in special education, because they were desperate and they needed me to teach 3 regular ed English courses and serve as a the special ed teacher or class liason in 3 other classes. One of those was Health. The lead teacher was a young male coach. I was also young -24 to be exact -and the class was made up of 9th and 10th graders -all but 3 were boys. We got to the section regarding reproduction and the coach acted like he was about 10 years old. I was horrified! A boy in the class WHO WAS ALREADY A FATHER in 10th grade asked me, "What is a period? I don't understand how periods in girls work." The coach then put his head on his desk! I just looked at him and sighed. I never thought I would be drawing the typical picture of a uterus and ovaries on a chalkboard in front of a group of high school boys, but you just never know what awaits you! I proceeded to explain exactly how a menstrual cycle works, why there is a period/blood, how the egg gets fertilized and when, etc. Sadly most of these kids had never heard any of this before. The girls just know they had started and it meant they could get pregnant and every month they had to use tampons. Whatever residual embarrassment I had ever had around males regarding menstruation disappeared that day.
So -for you it may never be an entirely comfortable experience, but at least you want to do it! My mother always had good, scientifically-based books and pamphlets on hand. You have to be VERY careful with this, but depending on if you attend a church or are a member of any type of religion, some DO offer good sex ed courses for pre-teens. I'm a Unitarian Universalist, and we start in kindergarten through high school with age appropriate sex ed called OWL (our whole lives). You may want to do something as simple as getting a medical anatomy textbook and leave it lying around. Believe me -your kids will look and ask. Don't ever think you're starting too young though -by 2nd grade your children need a basic understand of how babies are made and born. Basically you just have to sit down with them and dive in! Don't worry if you're nervous or blushing and embarrassed! Far better to be that way and do it than not to at all!
6 moms found this helpful
S.W. answers from Minneapolis on February 02, 2011
I had an uncomfortable start with sexuality in many ways, also. Over the years I've become very open in relationships and willing to talk about sex with my children.
Start really young, so the conversation is mostly about anatomy, to get used to talking about their/your bodies before they are old enough to be embarrassed.
Always listen, really listen to what they have to say and the questions they bring up. Nothing can be out of bounds, or "something we don't talk about". Again start young so they will know they can talk/ask you about anything.
Books can help - "It's So Amazing" and "It's NOT the Stork" and books like this can help facilitate the conversation.
Don't always wait for them to ask, bring up topics and share your beliefs. My daughter was good about telling me when she had heard enough or I was going where she wasn't ready to go. Until then, I shared.
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G.T. answers from Modesto on February 02, 2011
No matter how close of a relationship you have with your kids they always get a tad squeamish when you start talking about sex, it's pretty funny. While they are young and NOT yet interested in sex is the best time to let them know what it is basically. Once they hit puberty they can get squirrelly when you talk about it.
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B.S. answers from Chicago on February 02, 2011
My son just turned 11, so we have had THE TALK, lol. I just approached it as an extension of our earlier, less detailed 'where do babies come from' talk. I talked about it as something really normal and special between two grown adults who love each other. His stepfather and I are very affectionate and we are a family who hugs, so I think he has a positive role model in our relationship.
If you feel embarrassed, remember, your child will hear all kinds of stuff from other kids, so you want them to feel like the information they get from you is the absolute truth. It is hard because there are NEGATIVE consequences to sex, and you want to be realistic about this with kids, but at the same time not freak them out or make them feel like it is something to be ashamed of.
I recommend the book 'It's Perfectly Normal' by Robert Harris with pictures by Ed Emberly. It covers adolescence, puberty, sex, STDs, changing bodies in both girls and boys, those feelings, etc. The drawings are anatomically correct, but sort of cartoon-like and non-scary.
After my son and I had the TALK, we gave him this book. I told him that a lot of the information in it, especially towards the end, where they talk about safe sex and STDs, would not apply to him for SEVERAL YEARS,until he was an adult.
But I told him that I wanted him to have actual, medical information if someone at school told him something and he wasn't sure if it was true and was too embarrassed to ask me or his stepfather about it. I told him that some of the things about puberty might be happening to him soon and he should know that it is 'perfectly normal' just like the book said. I also told him it was NOT for sharing with his friends, who might not be mature enough for this yet, and that it was for their parents to decide when to talk with them about this stuff.
He read the whole thing through one time, got bright red when I asked him about it, and we put it on a bookshelf where he can get to it if he wants it and it hasn't come up since! :0 I think it was a really good backup to our conversation.
They also have a great book for little kids called 'It's Not The Stork!" about where babies come from that is also factual, but very family-oriented for parents who don't know what to tell their kids, but feel they are ready for more information than the stork story. Both books are really great.
1 mom found this helpful
K.M. answers from Chicago on February 02, 2011
Ok, my mom and I still talk about sex and education about it and she is 60 and I am 28... she ALWAYS talked to me about it for as long as I can remember. I always knew what my body parts were for vagina, breasts, ovaries etc, and about men as well. I remember our talks most often happened in the car just the two of us on the way to the mall we liked about 40 min away. We spoke openly and honestly. And in middle school we watched that stupid movie from the 70's and had the whole class thing for 3weeks about sex ed and learned about both men and women. My mother showed me on the broomstick how to put on a condom and what kind to use. She rather if it was going to happen I was smart about it and educated. Guess what when you are educated about it and I mean ALL of it you tend to wait. I did wait until I was an adult who who deal with the consequences of sex. I think this is one thing that needs to be brought back to school and should happen in 5th grade now not 7th grade.
E.M. answers from Honolulu on February 02, 2011
Part of what made it easy for my mom and I to be able to talk about it is the fact that I know my mom and dad were actually ... doing... it. Not like time and place stuff, but that it was happening... sometimes... and that dad would sometimes dip mom and kiss her open mouthed in front of us kids when we were as young as 4. They never "talked" about it but mom would sometimes have that smile, and dad would come up behind mom and while cooking and just kiss her neck. You know Public Displays of Affection were expected with them and so when I had questions I know mom and dad were still in the game so to speak with each other so I knew I could talk to mom as I knew she was doing something.... What that something was... well that came later.