What Do You Tell Your Kids About Sex?

Updated on December 23, 2010
C.C. asks from Morrisville, PA
22 answers

I was talking to a neighbor the other day. Her children are older than my own. Both her boys are in high school my kids are grade school and nursery school. Her husband was not able to attend the neighood function because he was keeping an eye on his teenages son and their girlfriends. Then she told me she is sure they already had sex. Like this is beyond her control. I want my kids to wait until they are mature enough to deal with the responiblites of sex...like when they find that special person and are ready to get married. I don't want my kids when they older to have multiple sex partners over the cours of their lives. Now its easy my kids are still young. I want it be second nature to wait and for them not to consider to have sex before then,
I came from a fairly sheltered family. I had probably about 4-5 boyfriends but was only intimate with my husband.

What can I do next?

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answers from Allentown on

Hi, C.:

Being a role model is #1.
Do they make any remarks about relationships?

When they start asking questions, then you can begin
to answer them.

Good luck.

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answers from Augusta on

It is beyond her control whether or not her kids have had sex, just like it will be beyond your control if that's what they want to do. Educate them about the ramifications of sex, safe sex practices, and emotional baggage that comes with multiple sex partners and hope for the best. Abstinence only education is proven to actually increase the rate of teen sex and pregnancy, so I would be frank with them.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

As Courtney G. said, it IS beyond your control whether and when your children have sex. It is "first nature" for us human beings to have sex. Educated young people can make better decisions, usually. And by educated, I mean completely educated about all the aspects good and not so good surrounding sex. Fear (of disease,emotional or physical trauma) leads to dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors around sex, whether young/old, married/unmarried. I choose to raise healthy young adults with knowledge, morals, and a healthy sex drive.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It is beyond your control so your best option is to communicate truthfully with your children.

If you forbid it or make it "bad", "taboo" then the more likely they will want to try it.

Keep the lines of communication open so they feel they can talk frankly with you and you don't cringe. They need to know the consequences if they end up pregnant or become a dad.

I have an almost 16 yr old. When she goes out, I keep my calmness and just say...... remember your goal of studying in Italy. Of course she says in the long drawn out tone "MMMOOOOMMMMM". Then I add, a new baby would end that dream and you'll have to come up with another one that you can do as a mom.

Don't let your sheltered childhood effect your children.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Just keep communication open and take advantage of teachable moments as they occur. Explain the common thought process that often brings teens to have sex (ie. everyone is doing it, I want the boy to like me, etc.) and explain how that thought process can get them into trouble. Be honest. If they just hear they shouldn't have sex until they are married, they will feel like you're living in another universe when "all their friends are doing it." That mentality from both teens and their parents get to me. I have 2 daughters that CHOSE not to get wrapped up in boyfriends. One daughter (almost 20) has a boyfriend now. The other daughter (21) had a boyfriend briefly, but ended it when he got too pushy. She just decided she wants to focus on school and wait until the guys around her mature a bit more (her words). The reason my girls decided to do things that way was a combination of what we had talked about and what they were seeing in their friends (which matched what I had said in terms of their thought process). It was like, "Wow, I can't believe how emotionally wrapped up this friend is getting over a guy she barely knows!" My daughter was just good friends with the boyfriend she has now for a while before they started dating. That thinking saved her this summer when a guy asked her out and she told him they should just be friends and see where it goes (he started hanging around more after that). Turned out he had a girlfriend during that whole time.

I never told my children they cannot date or have boyfriends, etc. I just presented what situations they could be in, various ways they could handle it, and the kinds of scenarios that can happen by getting involved too quickly. All they had to do was to look around and see for themselves the reality in what I said. It works so much better if they are the ones that make the choice vs just a rule to be obeyed.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Talking about sex and other things (drugs, stealing, what being a friend means, etc) is not just a one time thing. It's an ongoing dialog, which can be started by a question or something that was seen on tv or talked about at school.

We tell our kids that sex is an adult activity and not for children. And by adult we mean age 18 or over. We also talk about sex-related issues that are age appropriate (my kids are 8, 9 & 12).

I recommend this book:


"10 Talks Parents must have with Their Childen about Sex and Character" This book offers advice on how to begin. The book emphasizes that you need to keep your family morals/values in the forefront when discussing these issues with your kids.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Hi C., I have a COMPLETELY different philosophy about sex than you do.

But it doesn't matter. Only thing that matters is what YOU want for your kids. It IS possible for you to bring up healthy normal children who genuinely believe sex is only for married people. Since there is a LOT of sexual related education in school these days, and they do NOT teach abstinence until marriage, it may be something of a battle.

Throughout grade school and middle school for example, before a sexual matter is discussed in school you will be sent home a slip to sign.

That is NOT the case in high school health class.

I suggest with EVERY single discussion you have with your OWN children, starting NOW with ANY sexual reference whatsoever, you be sure to touch on your feeling that sex is meant to be saved for your husband/wife.

If you keep the FOCUS on sex is BAD (for anyone not married), it's likely they'll be MORE interested in trying it.

My last suggestion is you talk about it with your own Mom, clearly SHE pulled it off with YOU! No reason you can't too!


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Well, we're pretty far off from this, but we plan to tell our boys that YES, we really encourage them and want them to wait until after high school and until they're in a very serious relationship -in love -and understand exactly what sex brings to the table (pregnancy possibilities, STDs, a new dimension to the relationship, etc.). Having said that, I hope they'll at least wait until 10th or 11th grade!

In all seriousness -it DOES help to keep an open dialogue running with your kids about your expectations. Be VERY open with them about sex and the factors surrounding it. BUT -be realistic. Kids in the USA today have sex at alarmingly early ages because we, as a society, don't properly educate them. When you leave it up to the parents, you have at least 50% of the kids who aren't talked to or told anything about sex or expectations, OR repercussions! Many of them have parents who had them at 15 or 17 and they're surrounded by family members and friends doing the same thing or else they just preach "abstinence," and stick their heads in the sand. There are so many kids who have HOURS of "free-alone time" once they hit adolescence that it's shocking. They can and do get into all sorts of trouble because of it. I'm not just talking off the top of my head -I used to teach 9-11 grades, and I am getting certified to teach our congregation's sexual education program. This crosses ALL socio-economic levels as well. We've had more than one community upheaval in the metro Atlanta area because it was discovered that 8th, 9th and 10th graders were having afternoon sex parties and orgies in affluent neighborhoods.

So -talk and prepare them. PLEASE stress the importance of condom use for STDs and pregnancy. Let them know that some girls aren't truthful about using birth control. Tell them this is even more likely to be the case in casual encounters. Discussing all of this for years will help, but ultimately it will be their decision, and the hormones are STRONG.

In reality, very few kids leave high school as virgins -and most of the ones who do tried really hard not to! Hopefully you'll make them think twice, but be realistic. Don't make sex a nasty, bad, fearful thing -make it a really wonderful thing that's worth waiting a little bit for! And always remember -you are not your children. Their wants, desires and actions will be different.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

All you can do is teach them what you want them to learn. They get to make thier own mistakes in life, and you have to learn to let them. One thing you should also learn, is how to love them even when they make a mistake that is out of your comfort zone. It is beyond your friends control that her children made a choice, it will happen all the time, your children too will make choices that you won't like. All your friend could do was to limit the opportunity, which it sounds like she was doing by having her husband stay home. Chastity belts were around a long time ago for a reason. This is not something new by any means. What you have to let go of is the idea that you will get what you want with your kids lives. We all have dreams, but you have to be able to let the dream go, because your children have thier own lives to live.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Communication is the key. You need to be open and honest, and don't force your beliefs on your kids. Make them self confident and self aware so that they CAN say no. Teach them how to say no. The other kids says X, you can say Y, etc. After you share your beliefs let them know that even if they don't follow that, you are there for them, and you won't hate them for it. That they can call you or talk to you at any time for help or just understanding.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

mama....it is kind of beyond your control whether or not your children are going to have sex. You can do your very best to tell them all about it, the consequences, the ramifications....and then you sit back and hold your breath and hope that they take what you said to heart.
You can't helecopter them and follow them everywhere they go! While it's lovely that you have only been intimate with your husband, that is certainly not the norm anymore. No one wants their children to be promiscuos (sp?)....watch who their friends are, take them to church,and continue to have a loving relationship with your husband. And then realize that IF your child ever does have sex before....they need to know how to protect themselves and their partners. You certainly don't want to be so naive as to think that they are not having sex, until your daughter comes home pregnant or worse!


mama....it is kind of beyond your control whether or not your children are going to have sex. You can do your very best to tell them all about it, the consequences, the ramifications....and then you sit back and hold your breath and hope that they take what you said to heart.
You can't helecopter them and follow them everywhere they go! While it's lovely that you have only been intimate with your husband, that is certainly not the norm anymore. No one wants their children to be promiscuos (sp?)....watch who their friends are, take them to church,and continue to have a loving relationship with your husband. And then realize that IF your child ever does have sex before....they need to know how to protect themselves and their partners. You certainly don't want to be so naive as to think that they are not having sex, until your daughter comes home pregnant or worse!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Shreveport on

I didn't read all the responses so I might repeat. But one that stuck out was don't make it forbidden or bad thing cause I promise you that will drive the kids faster to it than anything else. I know my family pushed to wait and that if they found out I was active then I was going to be in trouble. Guess what about the age of 16 to 18 I was trying very hard to be active. Lucky for my family the guys I were dating during that time were scared that I was the aggressor. I laugh at it now. But at the time it irked me to no end.
Anyway with my two boys 14 and 10 I have talked to both of them from very young ages about sex and the facts of it. My oldest knows all the details of both men and women's bodies thanks to secondary infertility. He went to a lot of my appts and learned the facts of life that way. Now some are going to hate this but it is something that my husband and I agreed on. We have talked to our oldest and told him we are always there for him and that we would like him to wait til he is at least 16 before he becomes sexually active. He says currently he isnt interested in anyone enough to think of that yet. We have also told him we would prefer him to be in a long term relationship before he starts down that road. Of course rattling off all the things required of a sexually active person has seemed to put him off the idea. LOL It has also helped that we have several friends that have very young babies that we volunteer my oldest son to help with. Reminding him that sex = babies. He laughs and tells us no worries for him.
My point besides not making it a bad thing is to be open with your kids. Be age appropriate but be open with them.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

The more truthful basic information children/teens have about sex, the better their choices will be.. No one can totally control their children at all times.
You have to give them the info, and continue to speak about choices and the different consequences that are possible with each choice.

If you look back through your own families history, you will find many, many children that were "premature". Teens have been having sex forever.. This is nothing new.

The difference is that now, it is expected that parents teach their children about sex and their family values. We have always spoken with our child about how people go to school, graduate, go to college, get a job and then if they find someone they love, get married and maybe have children..

Whenever we saw a pregnant teen, we spoke about their future.. about the price and sacrifices this new parent would make for the rest of their lives.. It made it more real to her.

We never know how our own children are going to turn out.. Make plans and they will all fall through.. so instead arm your children with the power of making good choices and allow them to take responsibility for their choices..
Good or bad.. That is the best thing you can do.

My mom empowered me with " I will always love you. Even if you do the worst thing in the world. I will be on your side. I may be hurt or disappointed, but I will always love you and be there."

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I'm kind of in the same boat as you. My sons are very young, but I also would love for them to wait until they're are 30! (ok, maybe not 30, but definitely not high school).

I can't speak from experience, but the advise I've been given is to begin talking to them (in age appropriate ways) as soon as they are old enough to talk and ask questions. My 4 year old has asked some very basic questions about the physical difference between boys and girls and about a boy and a girl kissing, and we just do our best to take him seriously and give him a basic age appropriate answer. We want to make sure he always feels safe to ask questions.

I've been encouraged by many people not to have "the talk" but to just always be honest and open and let them know they can ask me anything.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids are very little,but when they do come to me- I will tell them the truth. Whatever they ask, I will tell the truth and tailor it to their age and whatever they can handle emotionally. I am a Christian, so we will tell our children what God says about sex, love, and marriage.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Parents don't have total control over whether their teens are having sex. You can't or shouldn't keep them locked in the house. If kids really want to, they'll do it under the bleachers or in their car or in the unattended hallway at the prom. Kids don't always embrace their parents' values.
As for my own kids, 11 and 15, I have no interest in them waiting "until marriage." I want them to have normal adult relationships, and to me, that includes physical intimacy. I don't need them rushing into marriage at a young age just so they can finally have sex. My daughter knows that my belief, which I did not follow myself, is to wait at least til college at, when you have some emotional maturity. I think high schoolers don't have the maturity needed to handle the depth of emotions that can come with a sexual relationship, and the ending of those relationships. I don't feel that your body is more precious than your soul, and if you can share your deepest, innermost feelings, your heart, your soul with someone in a relationship and you are not married, why share that if it's more important, while preserving your physical body? Just seems silly to me although I know this is not a belief that many people share.
It is not your decision whether your kids have multiple sex partners as adults. You can tell them your values, but one day, they'll be college graduates, going to work, living in their own apartments and they get to decide whether they want to jump into marriage before 25 or have relationships, whether casual or serious, before then.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Teach them your values, teach them the realities of the risks and diseases and how to prevent them including that abstinence is the only sure way, teach them your religious views if you have them, teach them to love themselves and give them confidence in life so they aren't insecure or lonely or prone to peer pressure, keep them busy working and in activities to advance themselves so they aren't loitering around with boyfriends and girlfriends all the time at 14 and up, but then, when you've done your job and they know you love them no matter what-let them live THEIR lives.

Sexuality is a private choice for everyone. Wanting other people to not have sex until they're married is inappropriate. I know it's your kids and you want what's best and all, and religion is another matter, but bottom line, not everyone gets married young. Not everyone gets married at all. Not everyone's first marriage works out.

Definitely share with your kids that sex is a dangerous and unhealthy distraction when you get into sexual activities too young with partners aren't serious and you're not emotionally mature, but don't lay any more heavy trips on your kids than you have to or they will grow distant from you if they make different choices for themselves-which is their right to do.

I spent my high school years in Germany in the 80s where all my German friends were treated like healthy sexual beings and their parents were very frank and open. People were sunbathing nude everywhere and nudity was in the soap commercials on TV. They enjoyed taking their daughters out for shopping, lunch and their first trip for birth control at a pretty young age. It was shocking at first, but in general, their high school kids weren't having more sex than American ones, and the American ones were the ones running away from home when they got pregnant because their families in our community were usually strict military churchgoers.



answers from Eau Claire on

Be open and honest...kids don't need school to tell them about it all.



answers from Philadelphia on

I agree with you. My oldest just turned 10 and I have been thinking of when and how to talk to her. I will be ready your other replies.

I really hope the mom you are talking about daughter has not had sex and I hope she talks to her daughter soon.



answers from New York on

I have a 3 year old but already I am thinking about what to tell my kid about sex, and when. My parents never talked to me about sex until I was already active. I learned about sex from my friends. I had no idea what my parents really expected from me except to not get pregnant -- so, I wish they spoke to me about sex and about their expectations of me. I think it is perfectly alright and appropriate to lay out for your children what your expectations are when it comes to your child and sex -- be it to wait until they are in a monogamous mature relationship, until marriage, whatever your values are. I would have an honest conversation about how to determine when it is right time to have sex (insert your own values here and explain why you believe this way), as well as describe other options people take and why, and potential consequences to having sex -- good and bad. For example, in your case, you can explain pregnancy as a consequence to sex -- and then explain how this can be be a blessing in some settings (in marriage) or a stressful burden in others (a one night stand). Lastly, I would leave an open-door policy with your child, letting them know that NO MATTER what their concern or question is, you promise that you will not just judge them if they choose to approach you about it first. That is the best way to reduce risk as much as possible -- when they come to you for questions and concerns about sex before they get to their friends, who will give them all sorts of information, most of it likely incorrect or in direct conflict with your values and expectations of your child.

Again, my kid is only 3. However, I do work with children and continue to be surprised how many parents do not talk to their children about sex; or, if they do, they are very judgmental about sexual choices that fall out of alignment with their own choices. Ultimately, yes, I agree with the others that it is important to recognize that there are many things your child will do that will be different from what you did or would like them to do....it really ultimately is a child's choice to have sex. However, since they are still children, they still value and look to hear your thoughts on it -- and as long as you present yourself as a well of information, not just as a "judge and jury" you can definitely have a healthy conversation with your child.



answers from Allentown on

Well I don't buy the comments that this is totally beyond our control as parents. I remember girls getting pregnant in high school and a few bringing their babies to school. I remember a part of me longing for a family of my own, but knowing that sex before marriage was not okay. This was a direct result of my mothers parenting. She talked to me first about sex when I was in third grade. It wasn't something talked about often but she was very open. It helped that she waited until marriage and had a firm belief herself. Now with myself I didn't exactly wait until marriage, I was 28 and engaged. My fiancee was actually surprised I was still a virgin. Happily surprised! But I did wait until I was mature enough and I was engaged to be married. I actually believed that in God's eyes we were married the night we had sex. Anyway, I intend to talk to my kids young and let them know I waited and I am glad I did. I will explain my beliefs and set a good example for them. Yes, I know I can't watch them all the time, but I can teach what I believe is right and wrong. And I believe what we teach our children has a huge influence. My only hope is that my kids have healthy sexual relationships and they don't get hurt. Of course it would be nice if they waited til marriage, but also know that no matter what I say or do can't guarantee anything, but I believe i will have a great influence. My kids are only 3 and 5 so I have a bit of time before I need to explain everything to them. Just make sure you let your kids know your thoughts and feelings at a young age and keep letting them know. Don't wait until they are 16 to have the talk. Good luck!


answers from Dallas on

There is a great set of audios, I believe by James Dobson, that you can use. You go away for the weekend with a same sex child ( so your husband would take a boy, you a girl). The tapes guide you and you also include fun activities.
You can probably find them at a Christian bookstore.

Next question: Abstinence And/or Safe Sex?

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