“Sex is wonderful! Sex is amazing! Sex is something you’re going to enjoy the rest of your life!”
Nowhere did those words appear in an article I read recently about having sex talks with kids. The author emphasized the importance of moving beyond simple mechanics, scary stories, and dire warnings to include discussion of relationships, values, and decision-making around when to have sex. She was right on all fronts, but I wish she’d gone further. I kept waiting for her to say, “sex is fun” or at the least “sex is good.”
We as parents worry a lot about the sexual-emotional health of our children along with unwanted pregnancies, diseases, and the partners our kids choose to hook up with. So it’s no surprise when we talk to kids about sex that we tend to lead with worry, sprinkled with a dose of heavy-handed admonishment. We stress the dangers of sex, rather than talk about its virtues, fearing positivity will be read as encouraging promiscuity, turning innocent kids into zombie-like sex fiends.
Let me clue you in … kids already know sex is great.
How? Because their friends keep talking about it, and because you keep doing it. (Hopefully, you keep doing it.)
In addition, they touch themselves and know how good it feels. Talking to kids about sex in negative terms flies in the face of everything they know and consequently drives a wedge between you and them. They know you’re not to be believed and turn to others for sexual information, often finding instead misinformation. Leading with enthusiasm on the other hand builds a bridge between you and your child, affording you the joy of talking openly with your kids about one of life’s greatest gifts.
Here are the keys to talking to kids about sex:
1) Keep it real by letting kids know sex is good.
2) Share your enthusiasm as well as your concerns.
3) Address concerns in positive terms, replacing fear and warnings with sensible solutions.
Talking to my kids about sex, I stayed positive without encouraging promiscuity. Here’s an example. Modify it any way that’s comfortable for you.
“Got a few minutes? I’d like to talk about sex.”
“Oh, mom/dad. Again?”
“Humor me. I just want to share with you some of the things I like about sex …
“Sex is wonderful! Sex is amazing! Sex is something you’re going to enjoy the rest of your life! You’re only ___ years old, but I know you’re already curious about sex just like your friends are, and that’s great. It’s normal. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. You’re already a sexual being and have been since the moment you were conceived.
“Sex makes us feel good and tingly from our heads to our toes, like dancing or baseball only much, much better. It makes us feel excited one minute—then relaxed. It’s a great thing to experience all by ourselves, and it’s deeply connecting when we share it with friends.
“There are things you need to learn, however, in order to be safe as you explore your sexuality—things like how not to make a baby before you’re ready, how to avoid catching yucky diseases, how to be appreciated by your friends for being sexually responsible, and how to make good decisions about potential sexual partners.
You’ll figure out some of these things on your own. At the same time, you and I will keep talking. I want to share with you what I’ve learned about sex because I love you and want you to have the benefit of what I know. When I don’t know something, we can look it up together. Talking and learning about sex can be fun with lots of cool stuff to discover to share someday with your partners.
“Since there’s a lot to figure out, I suggest you wait until you’re older before you opt for advanced sexual stuff like oral sex and intercourse. Take time to learn how to keep yourself safe. If you give yourself time, I know you’ll figure it all out and grow up to be a sexually happy and healthy young man/woman.”
Okay parents. Good luck and have fun!