When I tell people that I was a sexual health educator for youth and college, I often get this response, "Can you come to my home and talk to my kids?!" I have yet to accept the invitation but completely understand the anxiety parents have when discussing sex with their children. And though many of your concerns are rational, fear should not cripple you from tackling such an important subject.
I found there are usually three reasons that keep parents from openly and comfortably discussing sex.
1. Your own past mistakes
You are not perfect and never will be
It's OK to let your kids know you have made decisions you wish could be changed. I am not saying you have to make an exhaustive list of your comings and goings, but explaining how you'd do things differently now can help them choose a different path. Not admitting your own mistakes can easily isolate your child from feeling comfortable discussing what they are thinking, feeling and doing. When they know that you understand, it frees them to speak openly. Just because they are curious about sex and their bodies does not mean they will act on it.
2. Fear of awkwardness
The "talk" doesn't have to be awkward
Yes, it is very important to have an open dialogue with our kids but our approach needs changing.
Sex is not a one-time discussion that you can throw around at the dinner table and hope you never need to discuss again.
It is a topic that is built upon from the time they are little and goes well beyond just something physical. As the topics get deeper and more specific, neither you nor your child will feel as awkward because you have been discussing topics on body image, boundaries, respect and self-control from an early age. The great thing is that you can tailor the discussion to their age level and their specific need. If you didn't start early, don't stress. Start where you are!
3. Feeling under-qualified
Stop putting pressure on yourself that you have to know everything
You never will. And it's OK to say you don't know the answer. If that happens, go research it. I will admit that I learned a plethora of things I did not know when I first starting teaching. But let me stress one point. You can over prepare. Let the conversation unfold on its own and just keep the door of opportunity open.
Your kids want honest, genuine conversation, not statistical data.
Your kids don't need an expert to speak with them on sex. They need YOU. And who better to talk about such an important area than someone that knows and loves them best!
Sarah is a Christian Author and Speaker. She wrote the parenting book, "Walking the Talk: A Parent's Guide to Intimacy and Healthy Relationships" and maintains the blog A Life Inspired. Her passion is to equip the next generation of families to speak boldly and walk confidently in their faith and charge as parents. You can stay up to date with Sarah on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.