Talking about sex is so awkward that many parents want to put it off. Consciously or unconsciously, they miss opportunities to talk about sexual topics when they come up in daily life. That may be a relief in the moment, but it isn’t great for the long run.
How about you? How well do you do at keeping the door open for conversations about sexuality in all its many forms (anatomy, conception, attraction, love, orientation, consent, and more)? How often have you responded to your child’s question on a sexual topic by saying or doing any of these?
- “You’re too young to know about that.”
- Walking out of the room
- “Who taught you that word?”
- Using euphemisms (“down there,” “wee wee,” “girl parts”) rather than correct language
- “Why do you want to know about that?”
- Changing the subject
- “Go ask your mother/father.”
- “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”
All of these are understandable responses to questions on a difficult subject, especially when kids are young. Unfortunately, they all shut a door you want to keep open. They tell your child that when she has a question, you might not be the one to answer it. They make kids feel there’s something wrong with talking about certain subjects, or something wrong with them for even asking. Kids may come to associate sexuality with shame, which is definitely not what we want for them.
It’s better to take a deep breath and answer your children’s question calmly, succinctly, and accurately—even if you think they’re too young. That way, you become a trusted resource your kids can turn to over the years.