Talking to Your Kids About Sex
Do you think the perfect time to sit your child down and talk to them about sex is on their wedding day? Sounds like you could use a little help figuring out the best way to begin the "talk." Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, author of What Your Mother Never Told You About S-e-x, weighs in on the best way to broach the subject.
Susan is a support family worker. She talks to other families every day but she can't figure out a way to talk to her 11-year-old daughter about sex.
Dr. Hutcherson understands where Susan is coming from. Even though she talks about sex all the time with women, she found it difficult to talk to her own children as well. She suggests Susan bring up the subject in a series of little talks, rather than one long discussion. "It's important that the information comes from the parents, not from the friends on the school bus, not from other kids at school, not from the television set, but from the parents," she says.
Another way to get the conversation started is through a book. "There are lots of books that are written to help you talk to your children about it. Instead of leaving it in the bedroom for them to pick up, at bedtime say, 'Let's read Chapter 3 of this book,' and the two of you read it together. That way, if she has questions, she could ask them. You really want to make it comfortable for her to come to you with questions about anything."
"How much information is too much?" asks Susan.
"Kids are getting information all day, every day. And what you want is to give them the information you want them to have. You can't really go too far. You only give as much information as she's ready for. You have to take into consideration her age. At 11, she's ready for everything."
Kate's two kids are starting to ask her about the birds and the bees, even questions about her own sex life. How honest should she be with them?
"As my kids say, T.M.I. - too much information!" says Dr. Hutcherson. "They're not your friends, they're not your buddies. You're the mom. There's a boundary that you don't cross. Say, 'I want you to come with me for any questions that you have about sex, but Mommy's personal sex life is just that, it's personal and it's private.'"
Maria recently caught her 11-year-old son looking up female body parts on the Internet. How can she get him to come to her for answers instead?
"It's very common for a boy who's entering puberty to be curious about women's bodies," says Dr. Hutcherson. "Talk to him about how his body is changing as he goes through puberty and how girls' bodies change; that it's OK for him to be curious but you want him to come to you if he has any questions. As a mom, it's also really important for you to teach him to respect women and their privacy. I would suggest putting some kind of filter on his computer. The next step after body parts is gonna be things that you won't want him to see."
Annette has three boys, ages 10, 13 and 15. Should she allow her 15-year-old to talk to his youngest brother about sex or should she encourage her son to come to her?
"At 15 years old? That's not really a good idea," advises Dr. Hutcherson. "What you need to do is to tell your younger child that if he has questions, come to you for advice. You need to have that open door policy. Have them come to you for anything and everything."
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