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By: Loren Lomme, MA, LPC, RPT
As a kids’ counselor and mom of a 4 year old and teenager, I often hear others talking about awkward sex-talk situations with their kids, so I want to weigh in! This is a tricky topic because it has a lot to do with personal comfort level, how you were raised, and personal beliefs; so understand that these are my personal beliefs, but also something I would communicate on a professional level to clients.
Most parents do not look forward to the day their child asks them where babies come from, what “private parts” are for, or what the words to the new hit song on the radio really mean. I’m here to tell you though that these conversations do not have to be scary, intimidating or uncomfortable. The key is to not wait until the right DAY for “the birds and the bees talk.” Conversations about body parts, sexual development, how our bodies work, and the like should be ongoing from as early on as possible in an age-appropriate way. When this happens, the awkwardness disappears, and your kids will feel comfortable coming to you with these questions. This is what we want because if you don’t have these conversations with your kids, guess who’s not afraid to: Twitter and Snapchat, Abercrombie and Fitch, E! TV, kids at school, and the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the messages that will come from these sources may not be aligned with the values you want to teach your kids, and the information will often be inaccurate.
So what does a conversation like this sound like? I’ll give you one from my own house last week while my son was taking a bath:
4 year old: Hey mom, what are these ball things?
Me: They’re called testicles.
4 yo: Oh, what’s inside them?
Me: Chemicals that help make your body work and little things called sperm that you will use to make a baby if you want to when you’re older.
4 yo: Oh ok. They kind of look weird.
Sounds anxiety-provoking maybe, but it’s not because we have these types of conversations pretty often, and I just adjust my answer to his age and developmental level. I actually love these conversations because I know that as my son grows older, we will already have a solid foundation for these topics. He will come to me with more questions, and I will continue to have the opportunity to teach values that are connected to these topics like: respecting his and others’ bodies, consent for physical interactions in relationships, what is and isn’t safe touch, etc. Not only that but I am also empowering my kid with knowledge, letting him know that his questions and curiosity are valid and important, and increasing connectedness and trust in my relationship with him. Don’t get me wrong though, we know that kids are masters of catching us off guard. So if you ever get asked a question that throws you off or may come at not the best time (like the checkout line at the grocery store), try not to lose your cool. It’s always ok to say something like, “That’s a great question, I need to think for a few minutes about a good answer” or “That’s an important question, let’s talk about it when we get to the car. I promise I’ll get back to you!” Make sure you do! It’s important for your kids to know that these conversations are not taboo and that you want to be a guide and source of information for them. If you feel that you need additional tips regarding parenting and children, you contact us to make a counseling appointment or read more about child counseling and family and parenting counseling on our dedicated pages.