What happens when parents avoid talking about sex?
Avoiding having conversations about sex tells your children that (1) sex is a taboo topic, and it is embarrassing or even shameful to talk about; and (2) parents are not the people to talk to about sex, which often pushes them to learn about it from other potentially unreliable sources of information (e.g., TV shows, movies, social media, peers). This may lead your children to think about sex in ways that are unhelpful or even untrue.
At this tender age, you may want to approach the topic as a matter of fact, describing sex as “a natural process that happens between a man and woman when they are married, and it is how babies are created”.
You should also refer to parts of the body related to sex using their accurate names (e.g., penis, vagina, womb) instead of using euphemisms.
These actions show your children that sex (and related topics like puberty) is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. You will also be able to establish yourself as a “subject expert” to your child, signalling to them that they can come to you if they have any questions about these topics.
By this stage, if you have not broached the topic of sex, it is likely that they’ve heard something about it from their classmates or friends.
You may want to open up the conversation by asking them what they know about it.
Take advantage of everyday situations to start conversations about sex. For instance, if you come across a scene in a TV show or movie that portrays sex in a way that contradicts your values regarding sex, you can use this opportunity to share with your children your opinions and values. You can also start to introduce to your children the idea that sex is a good and beautiful part of marriage.
By bringing these conversations up organically in everyday life, you create a culture of openness in the home, where such topics, widely deemed as sensitive, can be discussed regularly.
By this stage, your teen would have had some exposure to the topic of sex and sexual orientation.
While it is important to warn your children of the dangers of sex in inappropriate contexts (e.g., unplanned pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, STIs and STDs, etc.), it is also equally important to talk about the positive aspects of sex when it is done in the appropriate context of marriage.
Within marriage, sex is more than just an act of temporary sensual pleasure. It is an expression of a couple’s love and commitment to each other, which has the power to deepen the sense of safety and intimacy in the relationship.
Highlighting the positive aspects of sex within marriage helps to reduce the stigma that sex is taboo or bad, as well as reinforce the idea that sex within marriage is not just normal but is actually a great thing.
Ultimately, the key principle is to create a non-judgmental atmosphere where your children feel safe to talk about any topic in life, including sensitive topics like sex, and to share their feelings and concerns with you
© 2022 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
Talking about sexuality may be daunting and awkward, but it is also a privilege you have to bond with your child, and to sow values that can help them make good decisions and develop healthy relationships. Be equipped on how to start the talk with your child at our upcoming Relational Health & Sexual Intelligence webinar.
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