Did you ever notice that we use one word for “elbow” and one word for “foot,” but dozens of words for our private parts? You can use the abundance of slang words to break the ice with your teens and preteens about sexuality. It will be a raucous family dinner none of you will forget. 🙂
Here’s the idea: Choose a night when everyone* is home for dinner or in the evening. *“Everyone” might not include kids under 9 or 10, depending on your kid’s temperament and how open your household is about these things. If you have only one child, or only one child who’s old enough, you might team up with another family for this. (Or not; whatever seems right to you.)
Tell them you want to do something different tonight (maybe because you read this idea somewhere…). If you’re nervous, say so: “So, yeah, this is kind of weird for us, because we don’t usually say these words in public. But we think it’ll be interesting and maybe funny.
“Did you ever think about the fact that most body parts have only one name—but our private parts have tons of slang names? Like, ‘breasts’ are called ‘boobs’ and ‘titties’ and—what else can you think of?”
There may be stunned silence, or one of the kids may jump right in. I can pretty much guarantee that everyone will start giggling. Which is fine—in fact, it’s what you’re going for. The giggles help defuse the nervous tension. And once you’ve done that, you’ve opened the door for their serious questions in the future.
So, play with it. You’re allowed to giggle too—in fact, I recommend it. 🙂 Ask how many slang names for “breasts” everyone can think of. Keep a list if that’s your style. Ask about words for male genitals, then female genitals. If everyone is really on a roll and you want to keep it going, ask for words that mean “erection” or “masturbation” or “have sex.” Your kids may know expressions that you don’t—in which case say so. (They’ll enjoy being able to teach you something.) You may use expressions they don’t know—either because they haven’t run across them yet, or because the expressions are now archaic (which the kids will find hysterical—did people actually have sex in the olden days?!?). Be sure to do more listening than talking.
After everyone is giggled out and things have calmed down, remind the kids that most of these words are crude and not acceptable in public. “We can talk about this in the privacy of our home, but it’s important to remember that a lot of people aren’t comfortable hearing these words, and you might even get into trouble for using them.” Point out any words that are particularly rude and hurtful; “since I know you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to hurt other people, I trust you to not use those words out in the world.”
If you give this idea a try, you’ll achieve three important things:
- They (and possibly you) will learn something. When they hear slang words on the bus or wherever, they’ll feel “in the know,” which is empowering.
- You’ll learn how much they’ve already heard about sex. You may decide to have follow-up conversations (maybe one-on-one) if anything concerns you.
- You’ll have opened the door to sex as a topic. Everyone will feel at least a little more relaxed about it. Your kids will know that Mom and Dad actually know those words (who knew?!?) and can say them out loud. That makes you much more approachable when your kids have serious questions.
NOTE: If doing this with your kids feels like just too much (or if you don’t have kids, or your kids aren’t old enough), it can also be fun and ice-breaking to do it with your friends. It’s an entertaining way to open the door to deeper conversations.