A few weeks ago on social media I saw one of my favorites, Lilli Eats and Tells, post about taking her 8 year old out to dinner for “The Talk.” My palms instantly got sweaty. My oldest is 9 and while we’ve always been open and honest about body parts and even discussed some of the changes that would come his prepubescent way, we hadn’t yet disclosed the baby makin’ process in its entirety. Was it time for Chris and I to tackle our first Sex Talk?
10 years ago I was teaching 7th grade U.S. History at a middle school for the Clark County School District. I tell you this because it has most definitely impacted my eagerness to communicate openly, honestly, and frequently with my own kids about sex. I hesitate to disclose this information publicly because I hate the idea of making parents fearful or anxious, but I hate seeing kids subjected to horrendous premature sexual experiences even more. The purpose in sharing this is to make you aware, as a parent, what your kids may be walking into when they enter public middle school.
You see, the middle schoolers I was teaching 10 years ago were not only versed in explicit sexual terms, but some were already engaging in sexual activity at age 11.
As mentioned above, I taught U.S. history and I did so on an election year. While discussing the political spectrum as well as different platforms that both the democratic and republic parties stand on, the topic of abortion came to light. One 7th grade girl raised her hand and in front of the whole class asked,
“I don’t want to have an abortion, but what if my boyfriend tells me he doesn’t want to wear a condom, because it doesn’t feel as good.”
I felt like I got stabbed in the chest. Truth be told, I can’t even remember how I responded or reacted, but as long as I live, I will never forget the question.
Parents, I urge you, if you aren’t willing to get over your discomfort to have hard conversations with your kids, you are giving your children permission to navigate their curiosity on their own. While 15-20 years ago a child might acquire information from friends or magazines, today information and explicit content, is readily available within seconds over the internet.
Age Appropriate Conversations about Sex
First, you should know that I am not pretending to be an expert in this field. My knowledge comes from the few classes I’ve taken at church, in my MOPS groups, research online, as well as my experiences with my own children and the students I spent teaching in middle school.
What I’ve learned is that talking about sex early and often beats fitting every single thing into one conversation and trumps avoiding the conversation all together.
- From birth to age 2: Teach your kids terms about their body parts.
- From 2-5: Establish boundaries when it comes to touching.
- 6-8: Discuss about rules surrounding strangers, internet safety, pornography, masturbation, actual mechanics of sex, mensturation
- 9-12: Emphasize that changes happening to them are normal, answer questions continuously, implement/ discuss social media boundaries
- Teenagers: Keep the conversation GOING.
See How to talk to your kids about sex: an age-by-age guide, to learn more.
Indicators your child might be ready for “The Talk.”
Not only was my 9 year old beginning to exhibit some prepubescent body changes of his own, but I was hearing whims of conversations from my boys about kids talking about “boobs” at school. Next, they asked me about tampons. I wanted to capitalize on the fact that my boys still felt comfortable coming to ME with these questions.
What do you do when you think it might be time?
While we believed we were on course for healthy communication about sex, we also knew we hadn’t had the BIG talk about it yet. We also knew it wasn’t likely to come up in casual conversation. I loved the idea of taking our oldest out for a special dinner, just the three of us. As a family of 5, we rarely get one-on-one time with each child. I knew alone time in itself would be an experience he’d look forward to.
I reached out to other moms who had been through this before. Here were some of their recommendations for books.
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- The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality
- It’s Not the Stork
- The Body Book for Boys
- Where Did I Come From?
While we ordered Where Did I Come From, and it did give us a general idea of the basics of what needed to be discussed, we decided to forgo bringing any books with us.
What is discussed when having the sex talk with your kid?
Our faith plays a vital role in how we talk to our children about life and we knew sex would be no different.
We started with…
“God created you and me, but we also know the science behind how God allows this to happen.”
Then we started asking my 9 year old questions to see what his understanding of the process actually was. His first question was about twins and reproduction. Which led to great conversations about the sperm and egg meeting, genitalia, how a woman’s body produces an egg every month, and how bodies change and develop (both male and female) to allow for this miraculous process to happen.
We then asked him if he knew how the sperm and egg meet. He didn’t, and that’s how we got on the topic of the mechanics of sex. My husband did a great job of explaining how while sex is for reproduction, it is also a gift that God gives married couples to show love to one another. It is the closest and most intimate you can be to another person on earth.
After answering his questions as honestly as we could about the mechanics of sex, we went on to the topics of
- Consent for affection
- How talking about sex isn’t a secret, but it’s not appropriate for talk at school or with friends
- Sexual terminology he might hear
- Role played how to respond to inappropriate comments
Questions that came up.
- You bleed once a month out of where?
- How are twins made?
- Wait, how is sex possible?
- Is it painful?
- How can pornography hurt me?
While there were some concepts he still couldn’t quite wrap his brain around, we did tell him he would experience some of these feelings and physical changes soon, and that when he did, he wouldn’t need to feel scared. We told him that growing up and changing is a wonderful part of life, but sometimes it can feel hard. We reinforced he come to us with any future questions and that we would leave the conversation open ended.
By the end of the night I did NOT feel like my child had lost his innocence, but instead like I was gaining a closer friend. There is no greater feeling than knowing you’re giving your kid a fighting chance in this world by exposing them to healthy boundaries and resources.
When the time for the talk is right, I pray you approach your child with confidence because talking to them about sex is one of the healthiest things you can gift them!
Have any other questions about giving The Sex Talk? Comment below and we’d be happy to answer.
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