Sex Ed 2.0: When to have “the talk” with your child
November 24, 2009
Dr. Tim Jordan M. D., shared this blog post with us, SEX ED 2.0: When to have “the talk” with your child
For most parents, the big question is, “When do I have the birds and bees talk with my child?”
And therein lies a large part of the problem. It should never be just a talk, but a series of conversations over many years. And the ‘sex’ talks needs to be about so much more than anatomy.
If young children, i.e. 5-9-year-olds, ask what ‘sex’ is, I’d answer their question with a question: “What do you think it means?” They will tell what they’ve heard and what their own developmentally appropriate private logic is about the subject. Most times you can just affirm that- no need to start paging through anatomy books.
During elementary and middle school, parents should have lots of talks about intimacy as it relates to friends: how to be a good friend, deepen friendships, set boundaries, make good choices and how not to lose yourself in friendships.
Parents of middle school and high-schoolers can talk about being ‘in integrity’ with yourself. That involves knowing yourself and what’s right for you and the difference between making a bad choice and feeling out of integrity versus making a good choice and feeling in integrity.
This involves talking through some of their past experiences with your kids. Did the alarm on their internal justice system ever go off, telling them something wasn’t right? Did they follow their instinct and make a good choice or ignore it and make a bad choice? Why did they ignore it? What were the costs or benefits of their choices? What will they do differently next time? Encouraging kids to take care of themselves and be in integrity with themselves are critical pieces of sex education many parents forget.
Talking about sex also means supporting your kids in being happy, doing things that bring them joy and fulfillment, and parenting in ways that allow them to grow up feeling grounded and confident. If they love themselves and know they deserve the best and to be treated with respect, they will have clear and healthy boundaries. People with a high sense of ‘deservability’ take better care of themselves and make better decisions about sex.
Having a relationship with parents that feels close, safe, respectful, trusting and open allows kids to talk about what’s going on in their friendships and lives and about tough decisions they are facing. The quality of your relationship with them is what dictates how much influence you have in all matters, including sexuality.
So the actual ‘talk’ talk, the anatomy and intercourse talk, is in my mind the least important part of sex education. Key components of sex education that can be covered over the course of many conversations throughout childhood include talking about friendships, intimacy, relationships, boundaries, integrity, internal alarms, making choices based on what’s right for you, self esteem and deservability.
Take the pressure off yourself about having the perfect, one-time talk and instead enjoy the ride.
Dr. Tim Jordan and his wife, Anne Jordan, run personal growth weekend retreats and summer camps (Camp Weloki) for kids in grade school, middle school and high school and his private practice is in Chesterfield. To find out more, call (636) 530-1883 or go to www.weloki.com.