Find Out Why It’s Important To Answer Your Kids Questions And How To Talk To Your Child About Sex
The grocery store is packed and you’re just trying to get in and out without a major catastrophe. But as you round the corner of aisle 12, your four-year-old shouts, “Mommy, where do babies come from?”
Red-faced, you mumble something about telling him when he’s older and attempt to leave the store as quickly as possible.
Although these encounters with our curious children can sometimes make us uncomfortable, Patricia J. Sulak, MD, director of Scott & White’s sex education program, said learning to answer our children’s questions is the key to giving them a healthy attitude towards sex.
“We need to just answer those questions,” Dr. Sulak said. “All they want is a simple answer. We think it’s going to be some difficult process.”
Children and adolescents need input and guidance from parents to help them make healthy and appropriate decisions about sex, according to the American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychology.
The information available to children on the internet and from their peers is not always correct or appropriate.
“There are things on the internet that tell them that oral sex and anal sex is safe,” Dr. Sulak said. “I find it shocking what kids can access on the internet.”
The truth is, you need to get to your child before the world.
The AACAP suggests getting advice from a clergyman, pediatrician, family physician or other health professional.
“It’s really important that parents know as much as possible about this topic,” Dr. Sulak said. “Scott & White has a lot of resources. In fact, the Scott & White Worth The Wait sex-ed program has senior staff physicians, residents and medical students who volunteer to go to organizations to tell adults what they need to know about teens and sex.”
Another helpful resource is the annual Girl, You’re A Woman Now conference that tells young girls about the birds and the bees in an age-appropriate way.
“Moms bring their preteen and teenage daughters and I actually explain where babies come from,” she said. “A lot of moms say, oh good, Dr. Sulak can explain this to them.”
But whether you attend the conference or not, it is important to have an ongoing conversation about sex. Encourage your children to ask questions.
“As soon as they know that you’ll answer any questions they ask, they will always come to you,” Dr. Sulak said. “As soon as they know that you’re embarrassed, that’s it, they’ll never come to you.”
For help talking to your kids about sex, here are a few tips, courtesy of worththewait.org.
- Use teachable moments to discuss sex.
- Talk honestly about love, sex and relationships.
- Give young people solid information about adolescent sex and the consequences.
- Let children know there is no such thing as “safe sex.”
- Encourage children to remain connected with family, school and community.
- Emphasize with kids that sexual abuse is wrong and should be reported.
- Encourage young people to avoid alcohol, drugs and other risky behaviors.
- Reinforce that kids do not need to give in to peer pressure.
- Help your children set goals.
- Work with your children to create a personal plan.
For more information on talking to your kids about sex, go to the American Academy of Pediatrics site. And for information about the Girl, You’re A Woman conference contact Terry Buckley at 254-724-5009.
Have you found a helpful resource for talking to your kids about sex? Share your experiences with giving “the talk,” and ways you were successful at relaying important information.