Don’t wait and then plan to have a one off ‘Sex Talk’. This builds the pressure and often makes it so awkward it never happens. So, start early and talk often as part of natural conversation. You will be glad to know that talking with your children about sex will not make them go out and do it. In fact, talking about sex with young people has the opposite effect.
Conversations about sexuality can begin when your child is young, beginning with information on the human body, growing up, sexual identity and gender, reproduction, affection, love and healthy relationships. The idea is to build healthy, open attitudes around love and relationships.
Early conversations about healthy relationships can set the scene for talking later about, romantic relationships and sex. The context is then approached as sex happening within a healthy, respectful and established romantic relationship, when the time is right. Young people need to understand what it means to be respected and respectful in the context of friendship, dating or a sexual relationship so they can establish their own set of values.
Tips for the conversation
- Select your times and places. Prevent discomfort by talking when you are in a more private setting. Being in an environment where you can talk without being interrupted can also make things more comfortable for both of you.
- Talk about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Discuss together what a healthy friendship or relationship should look like. Caring, respect, honesty, consent, equality, fun. Discuss what an unhealthy relationship might look like. Controlling, uncaring, no respect, dishonesty, pressure, etc
- Use media opportunities to discuss relationships, sex and sexuality. Media plays a big part in educating our children, whether we like it or not. Be in touch with what your children and young people are viewing and use these for discussions about values and healthy choices.
- Ask questions about how they feel and what they know. This helps you to gauge your child’s level of knowledge. (‘Are kids at your school in relationships?’) (How do you feel about the idea of having a partner?)
- Search for accurate information online together to be a source of information for them about questions they might have and what to read up on in their own time.