Birds and bees and sex and porn

How to talk to your child about sex — minus the awkwardness.

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  • Each of us knows, either from experience as the deliverer or the recipient, talking about sex and pornography with children can be uncomfortable and awkward to say the least. We all avoid the awkward. Some avoid it so much that such a chat never even happens.

  • Research has shown that when parents talk to their children about sex then they tend to delay participating in pornography and sexual behaviors. So, how do we talk to our children about sex?

  • Make it comfortable

  • Do not leave things out because you are uncomfortable. Children will model your behaviors and feelings so avoid showing your discomfort. This talk is for your child's benefit, not yours. Pay close attention to your child's feelings and empathize.

  • John Gottman, a renowned emotions researcher, gives credibility to teaching with empathy. He said, “As children mature, this ability to manage emotions helps them navigate social relationships, maximize intellectual success, and develop confidence.” When we empathize and explain, the lesson goes deeper and our message becomes comfortable.

  • Remember your end goals and make logical and thoughtful choices achieve them. Children model your behaviors and feelings. If you are uncomfortable, so are they.

  • Make it a conversation

  • Rather than speaking to our children as an authority, we should allow them to be active participants in learning. Rather than giving the child the answers, allow him to ask questions and reason out the answers.

  • Making “the talk” a conversation instead can bring great ease to parent and child. Look for opportunities to help your child understand what sex and pornography is and the standards expected by you. This can be done as early as you feel necessary.

  • Be aware of your child’s maturity and abilities

  • The authors of How much is Enough? advise parents to know the child and what she understands. If we as parents are talking over her head about sex and pornography, then we aren’t making any progress.

  • If we are talking below her understanding, then we are discrediting our authority on the subject and possibly insulting her intelligence.

  • Be aware of your child's needs

  • . Do not give her information that she cannot handle, but don’t wait until it is too late either. This is a difficult balancing act. Don’t be discouraged by the challenge, allow it to invigorate your parenting.

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  • By talking with our kids about the important things, we are in an indirect way telling them, "These things are important to me and so are you." When we leave the teaching up to the schools, government or even peer groups, we are telling our kids that these things are not our concern. Be clear, be comfortable, be aware and most of all be invested your child.

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Emily is currently studying child development with a minor in psychology at Brigham Young University-Idaho. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. Emily is the youngest of four children. Emily loves the outdoors, elephants, hot air balloons, and astronomy. She loves studying the family and has goals of becoming involved politically. She plans on earning a master’s degree in public policy. Emily looks forward to having a family of her own and influencing those around her. She seeks to inspire action and educate others on topics affecting the family.

 

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