Talking the By Isiah McKimmie
ducating children about sex can be a daunting task for any parent.
Most of us haven’t been taught or had any experience talking about sex with kids, and many of us struggle to talk about sex with our partner, let alone our children. You might think that your child doesn’t want to learn about sex from their Mum anyway. However, the average age that children are first exposed to porn on the internet these days is 11 years old. Our young people are increasingly being influenced by this culture, so it’s more important than ever to provide them with a real sex education. And to make yourself available to answer any questions your child may have about sex. The truth is, we all have questions about sex and our children are no different.
Children naturally explore relationships, sensuality and sexuality from a young age. Ultrasound images have been captured showing erectile responses in male foetuses as early as 16 weeks. Yes, children’s experience and understanding of these responses is likely different to adults’, but it’s part of their experience and natural exploration nonetheless. The explicit and implicit messages we receive about sex from our culture and family impact our experience (and enjoyment) of sex throughout our lives. In educating your child about sex you have an opportunity to help them become safer, impact their future enjoyment of relationships and become someone that your child easily receives advice from.
So, when is the right time or age? Deciding at what age to start educating your children about sex is challenging. The truth is, there’s no ‘appropriate age’ to start talking to kids about sex. Children need age-appropriate sex education at all ages. This includes using the correct words for genitalia from an early age. 26
Peninsula Kids – Autumn 2018
It can be tempting to wait until they’re old enough to understand or until they’re approaching adolescence to broach the subject, but children often will have already received information (or misinformation) elsewhere by the time their parents feel it’s appropriate. Children’s ability to understand sex and the stages of their own sexual development will change over time so we need to try to meet them with appropriate education at each age. We shouldn’t just be having ‘one talk’, but an on-going conversation, that will change and evolve over time. If sex is something that’s openly talked about often, it takes the pressure off an individual conversation, supports your child, and allows them to feel more comfortable discussing it with you. Education around sex doesn’t translate into an earlier age of sexual initiation. Not wanting children to engage in sexual activity can be one of the reasons we ‘shield’ children from knowing ‘too much’. But research shows that comprehensive sex education doesn’t impact the age of a child’s first sexual experiences. It’s been shown that comprehensive sex education lowers the rate of teenage pregnancy drastically. It’s normal to feel a little awkward and uncomfortable talking to your children about sex, but here are some of the things you can do to make it easier on all of you.
Your comfort will make the biggest difference.
As human beings, we’re wired to detect emotions and reactions. Although it can be difficult, if you have feelings of shame, anxiety of discomfort discussing sex, your child will pick up on that, and is likely to feel uncomfortable in the conversation themselves. The more comfortable that you are talking about sex, the more your children will understand that sex isn’t something they should be ashamed of. And they’ll feel that they can approach you to talk about it.
Peninsula Kids Autumn 2018