When you have kids, there are countless things that you know you will have to teach them one day that put the fear of the almighty in you to even imagine, but none so terrifying as knowing there will come a day when you will have to have “the talk.”
I’m talkin’ ’bout sex, baby.
And while it’s true that the very first conversations you have will be more technical in nature (i.e., explaining how body parts fit together to make a baby — END OF DISCUSSION), it is vital—especially in this day and age of accessible imagery and confusing media, via computer, television or radio—to cover all the sticky (cough) bases as they approach their early teen years.
Bases that mean a lot more today than they did when you were a kid, becasue now you are the parent.
Sure, you’ll feel like dry heaving and your body will be covered in a cold sheen of sweat as you hear words and phrases come out of your mouth that you’re not 100% positive you even know the meaning of, but educating your kids about sex is one of the many, many unintentional tasks you signed up for when you decided to become a parent, and as one, it’s your job to make sure it’s done right.
Believe me, you don’t want your kids learning about all this stuff from the internet … even if you do refer to it yourself when you are prepping for this conversation.
Obviously, every parent will (and should) take into consideration their own beliefs and value systems when addressing this issue, but regardless of which side of the abstinence fence you stand on, address it (and then hide in the closet afterward with a bottle of wine and rock back and forth while humming the theme song to “Barney”). And while being honest and forthright when approaching this issue is of vital importance, you certainly don’t want to show your whole hand.
Case in point: Eight years ago my 11-year-old daughter asked me if “it hurt.”
Ummm … yes, MORE HORRIBLY THAN ANY SHOT YOU’VE EVER HAD, is what I wanted to say.
Welll, let’s just say that when you’re ready to have sex—like age 38—your body is ready, too, is what I said.
I was too busy having a mild aneurisim to string coherent thoughts together.
And while they obviously know you’ve had sex, at the same time they don’t really need—or want—to know that you still do.
Having had various levels and versions of “the talk” with both of my teenage daughters over the years, I’m here to help you know what to do … and more importantly, not do.
Because there’s a fine line between honesty and your child never being able to look you in the eyes again.
Do begin having discussions about sex when your child is at an appropriate age.
Don’t convince yourself that age is 25.
Do keep the tone of the conversation light enough for them to feel comfortable.
Don’t giggle every time you say “penis.”
Do make your child feel relaxed and at ease during this conversation.
Don’t overdo it on the Xanax so you feel the same.
Do be ready to answer some uncomfortable questions.
Don’t beat yourself up for gulping a glass of wine before you begin answering them.
Do answer their questions honestly.
Don’t forget to cross your fingers behind your back when they ask you about your experiences.
Do let them know that sex is a natural thing between two people who are in a committed relationship.
Don’t tell them their dad is really good at it.
Do warn them about the dangers of STDs.
Don’t pull up pictures on the internet unless you are prepared to clean up projectile vomit. Theirs and yours.
Do emphasize the importance of being in a committed relationship instead of “hooking up.”
Don’t tell them about your sophomore year of college.
Do discuss birth control.
Don’t point out the nine year difference between your child and their sister.
Do tell them that having sex won’t make the other person like them more.
Don’t tell them that is a big, fat lie for the eight minutes the other person is having sex with them.
Do let them know that oral sex is still considered sex.
Don’t let them intern for Bill Clinton.
Do tell them that sex should be about emotional attraction as much as it is about physical attraction.
Don’t use posters of Zac Efron or Jessica Alba as visual aides when you tell them this.
Do make sure they understand that self-exploration is perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed about.
Don’t ever let them look in your nightstand drawer.
Do let them know that sleeping around can give a person a bad reputation.
Don’t tell them more than they need to know about their aunt.
Do tell them that all this information is probably overwhelming, and maybe more than a little bit shocking.
Don’t let them know you are mostly talking about yourself.
Do assure them that you’ll always be there to answer their questions.
Don’t feel badly if you hope they’ll never have another one ever again.
NEXT IN THE SERIES: Talking to your daughter about her period: The Do’s and Don’ts
For the time my (then) 11-year-old schooled me on the subject, click HERE.
For another Do’s and Don’ts list, click HERE.
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