Tough conversations: How to talk to your children about sexuality

Tough conversations: How to talk to your children about sexuality

Parents might find it difficult to talk about the birds and the bees. Here are tips to help ease things a little bit...

Mother and teen daughter talking while sitting on floor
Mother and teen daughter talking while sitting on floor/iStock

Parenting comes with the responsibility of guiding and teaching your children. 

Many children are inquisitive and will often ask questions about things such as their sexuality. 

It is not always easy to discuss the birds and the bees with your children, so here are some tips to help you along the way: 

Start the conversation early

Many parents think their children are too young to have a conversation about sexuality. They wait until their young ones become teens to start the conversation. 

Waiting for your child to reach puberty without having discussed sexuality with them might be more harmful than good because if you wait too long, your children might start experimenting sexually. 

The recommended age to start talking to your child about the birds and the bees is around age 8. This is when some children might ask where babies come from. 

Some parents shy away from discussing the subject because they think it will give their children the wrong idea of wanting to experiment sexually. This isn't true. Discussing sexuality with your children allows you to address some of the misconceptions that exist in society. 

Refrain from passing your responsibility to others

The reality is that if you don't talk to your children about the subject, someone else will. 

Parents are the primary caregivers and should not pass responsibility to teachers or anyone else. 

The unfortunate part about your children learning about sex from other people is that they might be fed the wrong information. 

So, discussing the subject with your children gives you the upper hand. Remember, your children trust you and will therefore trust what you say over what others might say. 

READ: Is virginity still relevant in today's age?

Don't lie or threaten your children

One of the common mistakes parents make is to treat sex as a taboo subject or present the topic in an unhealthy manner that leaves their children terrified of it. Some parents go as far as making up lies to try and scare their children about sex. This is not advisable. 

There are smart ways that you can tell your children the truth without terrifying them about sex. Remember, if you lie and trust is broken, they might not trust you again. 

Be age appropriate 

Giving too much information to your child can have damaging effects. 

Talk to your child according to their understanding. Don't just rely on age to gauge what is appropriate or inappropriate for your child. Some children might develop quicker than others. Observe how your child is developing and if you are still not sure about what is appropriate, talk to a counsellor, teacher, friend, etc. 

Allow them to ask questions 

Assure your child that you are there to guide them. Encourage him or her to ask you questions and if you aren't sure how to address the question, don't pretend to know everything. 

 Let your child know that you won't always have answers when they ask and it is okay to ask for time to think about your response. 

Don't forget to get back to your child with the response. This will build trust. If what was asked requires that you go into inappropriate details, be frank with your child and tell him or her that you will explain to them at a later stage when they are more mature enough to handle the answer. 

READ: [LISTEN] Comprehensive Sexuality Education lesson plans placed online

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