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  • Narda Skov

Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Puberty & Sex!


Getting started can be difficult, embarrassing and we may not feel we have all of the answers and we may not know where to start. If you are feeling conflicted or confused about where to start having these important conversations with your child - I have created a few tips fo you to follow. There is never going to be a perfect time or answer, but the simple fact that you are showing your child you care about their well-being, their heart and their head, is what they will ultimately remember about you imparting some wisdom about this sensitive topic.


Tip #1 - Don't worry if you have not had the conversation yet - say these things to start.


If you have never had a conversation about sex with your child, no matter if they are 10 or 16, it is not too late to get started. The best way to get started is to warn your child that you would like to have a conversation with them. If you have not talked about it before, you could apologize or explain. You could explain that you realized you haven't talked about sex before, but you would like to change that. Perhaps saying something like, "I saw an interesting movie last night, and there was a scene with a parent/child and it made me realize that sex is something we haven't discussed before.'


Explain why you haven't talked to them before today by saying:

  • "I wasn't sure when the right time would be and I did not want to embarrass me/you."

  • "My parents didn't talk very much to me when I was a kid, so I am trying to be a better parent."

  • "I was always worried I wouldn't know what to say or that I might say the wrong thing."

  • "I didn't want to say too much, too little or say the wrong thing."

  • "Talking about growing up, sex and puberty makes me feel really uncomfortable - but I know it is important."

  • *Super important - I do recommend sharing stories about your own growing up, but you do not need to share any other personal information with them - they will rarely want to know your personal sexual details - keep in mind the question behind the question. For example, 'Did you and dad have sex to make a baby?' can really be a question about how babies are made.


Tip #2 - Don't stress about providing the perfect answer. What really matters is the fact that you are approachable and willing to talk with your child about sensitive topics.


Getting started with the first conversation is always the most difficult. The best way to get started is to tell your child that you are going to have a conversation with them about sex and growing up. First, let your child know that you want to be their primary source of information and you realize you haven't talked about it before, but you would like to change that.


Remember, there are many different ways to answer your child's questions: simply, with facts and science, or your personal family values around a topic. If you do not have the right answer, you can tell them 'great question' and that you will find the answer and get back to them when you have it. Remember, you have to follow up and actually answer the question.


Answers should be simple, brief and factual. For example, if your child asks "How are babies made?" Your answer should sound like 'Babies are made from a sperm and an egg and grow inside the mother's uterus'. That may be enough of an answer.


Tip #3 - Prepare yourself with some possible answers or words that you would like to use (stay away from slang)!


Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable saying words about sex or anatomy (penis or vulva). These words may be ones we are not used to saying, or we may have been taught that it was inappropriate to say these words in public. If you as the parent can't say sexual words, you may struggle talking with your kids with confidence. It is a good idea to practice and get more comfortable using these words. Practicing can help - below are the list of words that you might want to practice with:

  • Clitoris, vagina, vulva, cervix, urethra, uterus, ovary, ovum fallopian tubes, anus, scrotum, testicles, penis, foreskin, sperm semen, ejaculations, erections, orgasm, lubrication, menstruation, periods, sex, sexual intercourse, pornography, porn, and oral or anal sex.


Tip #4 - Prepare yourself with some answers.


When you are comfortable with saying some of the words around sex and puberty, you can then start thinking about how you would like to answer some of the general questions young people might ask about. Thinking about questions you had and what you wish you knew earlier can be a great guide to finding answers that align with your values and you are comfortable answering is a great way to get prepared.


There are many books that can help with answers and you can check them out here. Select one or two answers that you feel comfortable discussing. You can even read the answer directly from a reputable book with them - that way you both are looking at the book and it is a great place to begin a discussion about what you just read!


I am a big fan of scripts and highly recommend saying responses out loud a couple of times so you can gain more comfort to discuss these topics with confidence. If you need to practice with your partner or a friend - that can also be helpful.


Finish any conversation with an affirmative message about growing up and sexual activity.


You can wrap up the conversation by saying "My hopes and dreams for you are that you feel good about any decision you make and you deserve to be in a healthy and fulfilling relationship - always." As parents we want the best for our children and you can remind them that being close to someone, or feeling good about their bodies and growing up, is the most important thing. You want them to feel good about knowing that they can always come to you for answers.


Remember:

  • Try to answer questions right away. If you can't answer immediately make sure you get back to them with an answer later on.

  • Find out what your child knows first by asking, "What do you think?" This will give you a sense of what your kids already know, or where they might have heard the question themselves.

  • Keep your answers simple. Keep your answers to one or two sentences and try using proper terms to avoid any confusion.

  • Check that your child understood your answer. You can say "Did that answer your question?' or, 'Does that make sense to you?'

  • Ask them if they have any more questions.

  • Tell them when you don't know the answer, i.e. "I don't know - but I'll find the right answer for you." Don't lie or tell them things that are not true.

  • Use your everyday voice, no yelling, shaming or laughing at their question.

  • Embarrassment comes with the territory! The more you can talk to them, the easier it gets.

  • Try to use correct terms. Cute names are okay if they are used with the correct terms.

  • Share your values and beliefs! Remember to tell them what sexual behaviors and attitudes are okay with you, in your family, and why.

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