How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex
#2 Talk early and talk often!
As parents, if we abdicate our role and responsibility and abandon our children by not talking to them about sex, we will leave them wounded and vulnerable in more ways than we can possibly imagine.
Read that again.
Let us dispel the idea that talking to our kids about sex is a one time conversation. Mmmmkk? I mean, you don’t have to be a parent long to realize telling your child anything once is only slightly better than never having said it. Am I right? The goal is to start talking to your kids about sex at a very young age and never stop talking to them about sex.
One of the very first conversations we have with our kiddos (18 months-3 years) starts as soon as we are teaching them body parts, “Head, shoulders, penis, toes….”
Here is why…
First, if from the earliest of ages we are making up names for our kids’ body parts we are subtly communicating shame. We are subtly communicating a shrinking away from. If we, grown adults, cannot use the anatomically correct words in front of our kids, then who can? When we make up code words we are communicating that there is something inherently wrong with the real words. Even from the youngest of ages, we begin to write our children’s sexual stories with deception, secrets, code words, shadows, and mystery. When we do not use real words we are communicating that these body parts must be spoken about in a vague way. In all actuality, what we want to be communicating to our kids about their body parts is this is the most natural, beautiful, and God-given thing EVER. If we unashamedly point out to our children that God made the sun, the moon, the stars, the trees, the birds, the ocean, and the mountains, then why do we hesitate to celebrate that God also made vaginas and penises? When it doesn’t feel natural and normal to use the real anatomical words with your children, be aware that might be some of your own sexual brokenness that you are bringing to the table. Remember, you are the tone-setter! “Those are your eyes,” should be as natural as, “that is your vagina.”
I can already hear squirming, “BUT SARA, I don’t want my kid walking around saying, ‘breasts’ in public places. I DO understand. Here’s the beauty, as your kids grow and develop (probably by school-age) you can begin to help them separate the idea that these are “in-house” words. If a child has always heard you use the correct name for their body parts, and now it’s time to venture out into the world, you can gently say when the opportunity arises, “Hey baby, ‘penis’ is a word we use in our house because our house is safe. When we are in public or you are at school, how about we use another word?” Inevitably, each of my kids has asked, “why?” They genuinely did not understand what was wrong with the word. Enter praise hands. Then we could say, “There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with the word, there is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with your body parts, but what you’re going to learn is outside of this house people don’t like using those words and it makes them uncomfortable.”
Do you see? This leads to beautiful, truth-telling opportunities. I’ve established my home as safe, I’ve re-affirmed there is nothing wrong with those words and I’ve begun to teach my child that things are different in the great big world beyond these walls.
Second, and of high value, the reason we have taught our kids the correct names for their body parts is for their protection. In a court of law, in a police report, all mystery and room for interpretation are removed if my child can say, “that person touched my breasts.” Instead of, “that person touched my Bee-Bees.” Is this horrible-awful that we have to even consider the reality that someone might inappropriately touch our children? Yes! But y’all, this is our world. 1 out of 3 children is sexually abused or molested by the age of 18. 1 out of 3.
Believing that our children are gifts from God means believing that their bodies, every single part, is a gift from God and should be spoken of as such. If we believe their bodies are amazing and knit together by our awesome Creator, then let’s communicate that by teaching them the truth about their bodies. Let’s help them learn to be comfortable and safe in their own skin. Use the right names, people. You can do it!