Hey kids, let's talk about sex
How comfortable are you on broaching the topic of sex with your kids? And is there really a need to do so? This article prepares you for one of the most mystifying parts of parenthood: Sex education.
While parents understand that sex education is imperative to a child's metamorphosis into an adult and it should be imparted at some point during childhood, still many quiver at the prospect of the "Big Talk".
We at theAsianparent.com feel that such an intimate topic should be discussed between parent and child and not left up to a third party or the school, so here's a preparation guide for parents who are brave enough to step up to the new age of being sexually frank with their kids.
Before you even begin thinking how to start talking to your children about sex, you should first assess your own comfort level towards the subject. If you squirm during sex scenes in movies and have difficulty expressing your affection physically, your children will pick up on these visual cues to form their own attitudes on sex regardless of your intentions.
In our liberal westernized society, sex is an idea sold to us daily through all forms of mass media. Such situations are unavoidable and should be addressed as early as possible.
Some questions you should ask yourself are:
- How comfortable am I with sex and sexuality? Do I view it as an integral part of life?
- Do I want my children to be raised with the same sexual attitudes as I have?
- Are there any attitudes I have towards sex that I do not wish to pass on to my children?
- Am I able to share my sexual attitudes in an open-minded manner to my children?
- How sexually aware do I want my kids to be? And at what age?
Bear in mind that are is no right or wrong answers to these questions – they are simply reflections of your personal opinions on sex.
What you should take note of is that these will shape the way you interact with your child on the subject and they will take away with them the attitudes that you reflect during your conversations and discussions.
Deciding On Shared Attitudes
Coming from a generation of parents who were generally shy to speak about sex openly, most of us would have been raised not knowing much about what happens during sex and how much of it should be said to our children.
Sex education varies for each family, from no education given to going in-depth with children about every aspect of sex. The kind of exposure you wish to provide to your child is purely up to you and your spouse, so once you have a clear idea of your own sexual attitude, you should share it with your spouse so you may mutually decide how much of your own perspectives should be share with the children.
Some points to discuss about would be:
- What are our views on issues such as homosexuality and promiscuity?
- Do we want to raise children who are sensitive and tolerant towards the different sexual attitudes that others may have?
- Should sex-related topics be something that is openly discussed as a family?
- Are we comfortable sharing our own experiences with our children?
- Should we take a liberal or conservative approach when educating our children?
Raising a child involves both parents and the same can be said for sexual education. Both father and mother should play an active role to provide the male and female aspects of sexuality regardless of your child's gender.
This lays the foundation for children to grow into adults who will be sensitive towards the opposite sex.
For the bolder parents, you may choose to break the ice by asking them about their understanding of sexual matters. For children, this will mean asking them what they know about their own genitalia. If your child is in the prepubescent stage, you may wish to ask them if there is anyone that they have special feelings for.
If a member of the opposite sex is involved, that is your cue to start explaining the social mechanics of sexual attraction before delving into specifics of sexual behaviour.
For those with children already in puberty, ask them if they have any questions about the physical changes that are happening. From the information gathered, you will be able to assess your child's current knowledge on the subject, correct any misunderstandings and discuss further into related issues.
If the idea of sex talk with your kids is unnerving, you may wish to wait for them to raise questions instead. This makes it easy to start on the subject and you may choose to discuss related topics at the same time.
However, it is crucial that you do not avoid any questions regardless of how embarrassing they may be. Addressing a child's curiosity is a very important part of sex education and may lead to them picking up on incorrect information from friends and forming inappropriate attitudes if not properly addressed.
When should we start?
As sexuality is an integral part of life, it is recommended that you start when your child is young and sexual attitudes have not been formed. This allows you to educate your child on what you and your spouse feel is necessary and to help shape appropriate attitude and behaviour towards sexual matters.
If your child is still young, you can start by teaching them the appropriate names for male and female body parts and how to differentiate gender. Despite seeming like a biology lesson, this is actually the first step to sexual education as it teaches the child to understand and appreciate the human body and its sexual functions. Do try to refrain from using nicknames for genitalia as such practices often quietly evolve into taboos that make a child feel that matters relating to "private parts" should be kept quiet about.
It is never too late to start teaching your children the right attitude to have towards sexuality, so you can still play an active role in cultivating sexual awareness even if your child is much older. It just involves a bit more grit on your part, and a keen willingness to share your views with them.