Talking about sex with our children is probably rated as one of the hardest topics but it’s also a crucial one as we are part of building the foundations of our kids lives. We are trying to carefully guide our daughters through these early years, and to set them on the path of being strong and clear-minded women.
I think that there was a time in my life when I pictured planned and slightly awkward talks about sex with my children; necessary conversations that we’d all rather not have. However, I’ve been surprised by those “talks” have found their way naturally through conversation. I have realized that teaching my children about sex and its importance is not a distasteful task that I must do. Rather it is an awesome gift that I have been given to teach my daughters about their body, their value, and what a treasure their sexuality is.
I’ve learned that there really is no such thing as “The Sex Talk” Our children’s first lessons in sexuality are learned from us. Of course they are continually learning from other sources as well but their first exposures and their viewing lens comes from their parents. I think that it from us that they can learn to be embarrassed by anything related to their bodies, they can learn to be ashamed of their sexuality, or they can gain a healthy sexual perspective and understanding.
Talking about sex
starts young. I knew that I needed
to get comfortable having the conversations that I knew made me
uncomfortable. From the time they were a tiny baby, I began
talking to my daughters about their bodies as I changed their diapers, using
correct terms to explain their body parts. It helped me become more comfortable using the words at a time when it didn't matter to them
I tend to approach talking to my children about sex with a reproductive and relational ratio in mind. I’m always trying to strike the balance between explaining sex from a purely biological perspective to include the relationship aspect of sexuality. There are times when it seems appropriate to talk about why and how our bodies work, while there are other times when we talk about Mama and Daddy’s love for each other, that we like to go on dates, and that we have special ways of showing each other love that are just for us. We haven’t really gotten too much into the correlation between our love and biology, but I’m quite sure it will come very soon. Right now our ratio is further on the biological side but as they mature, it will swing to the relational because they will need to understand the feelings and commitment that comes with any kind of sexual relationship.
We use or create age appropriate cues for their learning; we don’t wait until they ask. From talking about menstruation, to breast feeding, to developing from child to woman, because I’ve committed myself to making a point to create opportunities for my girls to learn from me how my body works, the girls have accepted this as normal, comfortable and an appropriate conversation to have. They’ve watched birth, seen roosters fertilizing hens, and have naturally progressed to asking about eggs and sperm. Because they are female, they are of course learning a great deal about their own bodies at this point but they are also talking about the other gender and learning from the other gender through conversation with their daddy. In my experience, it naturally seems to fall to the same gender to do the educating but I really believe it is important that our daughters are learning from both of us.
And in those times when it seems like I’ve not explained well, I just remember that the conversation is ongoing; what I said is not always what my children hear. I can only assume that children have information ready filters. We live on a farm and have plenty of friends who do as well. Lets just say that gives plenty of opportunity to explain how animals reproduce and that humans really are quite similar. I’ve explained these mysteries many times upon request but Aneliese still told our friends that for Molly to have puppies we would need to give her bread and if that didn’t work we would give her more bread (Get her bred). Cecily is of the opinion that she can share her eggs with others who may want to have children and that she can send them in the mail. Not only do these conversations supply some great laughs, they serve as reminders that a one time explanation is not enough. As with everything, kids build on prior information when their minds are ready. This conversation building looks ahead to the next stage. Because the conversation is ongoing, there isn’t so much worry of missing information or the child not understanding. Rather than a stage of development forcing an explanation, our kids are gradually prepared for what is coming and will have already been able to process and to know what to expect with the transitions of their bodies and the emotional changes that will accompany them.
Now is the time to
communicate your values. As we talk with our children about sex and all other
important topics, we view it as a
connection of our whole selves, mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Our beliefs are connected to our choices and actions within our sexuality. As
they grow, my children will become more independent and they will make their
own choices, including in their sexuality. Dan and I can only set the ground-work
and then allow them to build on that as they work through their emotions, feelings,
beliefs, and desires. We want them to make their choices in freedom knowing that we have provided them with understanding.
As I was talking with Dan about my plans for this post, he wisely pointed out that I am sharing from one limited perspective and that there would be other very differing perspectives. I’m always learning and I’d like to hear your thoughts. How do you approach talking about sex with your kids? Does it tend to be a lot different from how you learned? Do you find it more difficult or easier to talk to your kids than you expected?