Talk to your kids about sex — they're listening

Teaching your children about sex is challenging but one of the most important responsibilities you have as a parent. Approaching the subject with confidence and sensitivity is a key factor.

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  • Most parents will admit that talking about sex to their kids is awkward and uncomfortable. Yet they talk freely about the dangers of illegal drugs and drinking. So why is it so hard to talk about sex? Maybe because we know, when properly experienced, it’s a good thing — a vital part of a happy marriage. So it may be that you don’t want to give it a negative spin, or it may just feel too private to talk about. It may be that you think there is no point because your kids aren’t going to listen anyway.

  • Those arguments don’t hold water. Pre-marital sex can be very dangerous. Just look at the statistics about socially transmitted diseases. It is reported that about 19 million Americans get an STD every year and that teens have higher rates and are at greater risk than adults.

  • If you think it’s no big deal because antibiotics can cure the two main STDs, chlamydia and gonorrhea, you need to take another look. In this same report, we find that when these diseases go undetected they can cause infertility in both males and females. Other STDs can cause serious damage when undetected, and some do not respond to treatment. Parents need to be up-to-date on these statistics so they can protect their children from these serious outcomes.

  • We must teach our kids the facts

  • We have to talk to our kids about sexual behavior. The good thing is, they will listen even when you think they’re not. Statistics show “teens rank parents as the number one influence on their sexual decisions.”

  • A rather startling number of teens, 88 percent of those interviewed, “say it would be easier to delay sexual activity if they were able to have more open, honest conversations with their parents.” Another comforting statistic from this same report, showed “among 15 to 17 year olds who are not sexually active, 64 percent said that the major reason they decided to wait was because of what their parents might think.” When kids know you care about them, they will care about what you think about their actions. Parents need to take advantage of opportunities to teach about this vitally important human function.

  • Good times to teach about sex

  • 1. Whenever your child brings it up

  • Don’t wait or put it off if she initiates the conversation. It means something has happened to stir her curiosity, or someone has said something that needs clarification. It may even be that someone is putting pressure on her to be sexually active. At any rate, jump on this opportunity but don’t scare her with your eagerness. Be attentive and let her talk. She’ll ask questions that are concerning her. She is seeking your guidance.

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  • 2. When you’re doing chores together

  • Sometimes when you work beside your child it opens the door for communication that isn’t confrontational. If you’ve been concerned about something you saw on TV or in the news, that can be an opener for discussing sexual concerns.

  • 3. When they’re young, and you’re teaching about body parts

  • , you can matter-of-factly name your child’s private body parts using the proper names. If you don’t act embarrassed, they will be more likely to ask you questions relating to sex at other times. Never give a child more than they are ready for. Follow their lead and you won’t go wrong.

  • 4. At the proper age have the "birds and bees" conversation

  • You can start the discussion, in a quiet private place, with a statement like, “Our bodies are so amazing. I want to tell you about a very important function of our bodies.” Then proceed to tell how babies are conceived. Let it be sweet and tender, expressing that creating a child is a blessing from God. Follow your heart in this and share just the basics without going into much detail. More can be shared later as the child is ready. If they say, “I already know all about that, so I don’t need this talk.” You can say, “That’s OK. However, I want you to know my feelings about it.”

  • 5. Help them understand that there are important reasons for delaying sex until marriage

  • There are a number of website addressing this topic. Do a little research to fortify your own stand.

  • The most important thing to remember when teaching your children about sex is to follow your feelings. Know what you stand for and explain it plainly to your child. This is not the time for confessing past sins, but rather a time to explain how important it is to honor their sexuality and be prepared for a future of happiness with a chosen spouse.

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Gary Lundberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Joy is a writer. Together they author books on relationships.

Website: http://garyjoylundberg.com

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