One of the questions I get asked fairly regularly is how we handle talking to our kids about sex. Since we homeschool, we are completely on the hook for this one, too. When it’s time to have “the talk” with our kids, we take it very seriously.
From the time I was a young mom for the first time, I knew that I wanted to be very intentional in this area. These are just a few of my reasons:
- First, I want my kids to hear about sex from me first
- Second, I want my kids to have accurate knowledge
- Third, I want to be able to approach it from a Christian perspective
- Fourth, I want my kids to know the truth so they can filter out the mistruths they hear other places
- Fifth, I want my kids to feel comfortable in talking about it with me when they are young so they will feel comfortable bringing up their questions and concerns to me when they are older
- Sixth, I want my kids to be prepared for changes in their bodies and their feelings long before they ever happen
These are the primary reasons that we have chosen to be very proactive in talking to our kids about sex from the time they are very young.
This is a topic that may even come up earlier in our family than in most families because we have a new baby joining our family about every two years. This easily gives way to innocent and legitimate inquiries like “where do babies come from?” and, “how does the baby get out of there?”
I know you want me to get to the good stuff like the how, but first I need to lay a couple of ground rules down.
- First of all, all kids and families are different. I in no way claim to be an expert in this area, rather, I am just a mom who has taken this calling very seriously. I have come up with things that work well for us, and maybe they will work well for you, too.
- It starts with having everyday communication with your kids on all topics from the time your kids are little. You can’t be quiet and aloof in general while your kids are little and then expect them to be open to hearing and listening to you when they are older.
- It also starts with relationship. Having a close relationship that you are nurturing every day gives way to effective and authentic conversations about sex.
- Your kids must trust you. They have to know that you care about them and the things they think and feel. They have to trust that you always have their best interests at heart and that you can be trusted when they want to share things with you.
- Your kids must respect you. This is again something that is built over their entire lifetime. Treating your kids with respect and teaching them to respect you while also holding them accountable for that respect when they are young paves the way for a respectful relationship when it really matters.
- You must be approachable. From the time they are little, your kids need to feel like they can approach you with the little things as well as the big things. Let’s face it, talking about sex is a very big thing.
Alrighty. With those ground rules out of the way, let’s get to the how. Here’s how to talk to your kids about sex:
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This is a great book for you to start with.
It is an excellent springboard to preparing yourself to have these conversations with your kids. Just click on it for more details.
I find it effective to start young.
We have a couple of books about how boys and girls are different. These books are a few of our favorites, and they just get read right along with any other book that we read every day. Just click on any of them.
Seize every opportunity to talk to your kids about how boys and girls are different. In our house, this happens as we change diapers, as older sisters help only their little sisters shower or take a bath, and as we talk about other differences between girls and boys such as how our teenage son’s voice is lower than his teenage sister’s voice. It is amazing how often these opportunities arise. Jump on them as a way to just inform.
Answer questions. As questions come up, even if they make you feel uncomfortable, do your very best to answer them right then and there. You not only want to encourage your kids to keep coming to you with questions about this, but answering their questions right in the moment communicates that you are comfortable, and therefore the conversation is a comfortable one.
Talk to your kids about their body and how to properly care for it. This begins in talking about hygiene, but it also naturally gives you a bridge to talking about safe and unsafe touch. You can then go on to talk about who is allowed to touch them in their private areas, which would generally be just parents and the dr. as long as one parent is in the room. Be sure to point that out the next time you are at the dr. This is an excellent time to show them firsthand that parents should always be aware of who is touching them in any way.
When does formal “teaching start in our house?”
For us it’s around three or four, but it’s using this book. Just click on it.
We use all the books in this entire series, and we read them with the kids who are the appropriate age for each book. Here are the rest of them. Click on any one of them.
In our house, we might read these materials with a couple of appropriately aged kids together, but then one of us will make time to talk to each kid individually within the few days following to see if they have questions or concerns.
When our kids get to be about six, we also add in this resource, and I LOVE it. Just click on it.
Luke and Trisha, the authors, are amazing parents, and since they are Christians we love how they present this important topic.
This is appropriately called The Talk, and just like the above books, there are different books written for different ages.
The Talk is laid out in individual lessons, and each one takes about 15 minutes. There are also questions to ask at the end of each lesson, which also gives way to great conversations most times in our house.
Here’s my tips for talking to your kids about sex:
- The more you talk about sex, the more comfortable it becomes
- Practice saying the words that make you uncomfortable out loud. Say them out loud to yourself, and even better, say them in the mirror. It really does make it easier.
- Read each lesson or chapter before you read it with your kids
- Make it a priority. Resist the urge to push the talk to the side simply because it’s something that most likely takes you out of your comfort zone.
- You can never start too early. Really, you can’t…especially when you are just reading books about it.
- Call everything by their real name. Resist calling a penis a wee-wee, for instance. Otherwise, it will all just have to be undone later.
- Make yourself available for plenty of questions afterward. If you have a hard time answering questions on the spot, make sure you let your kids know when you will get back to them with an answer.
- Remind your kids, a lot, that talking about sex is nothing to be ashamed about. As Christians, I love telling my kids that we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about what God wasn’t ashamed to create.
- It is so much easier to talk about when you have resources you are comfortable with. Then it is less like you are talking and more like you are just reading something that someone else wrote. This has greatly helped me be more comfortable with it, especially in the beginning. I am frugal, but the money I’ve spent on these resources has been money well spent in my book.
It will be ok. Really, it will. You can do this.