Talking to children about sex
Talking about sex is scary.
I say that as a forty year old with three kids, thinking I have some experience on the matter. The law about sex education has recently changed in the UK meaning that all aspects of sex and relationships is discussed an hour a week in schools for over 11s. I’m sorry but this pisses me off just a little bit. Shouldn’t love, sex and relationships all be something we talk about at home? Should our kids not ask questions? They’re curious little things…
I can’t say the family I grew up in was overtly religious. Dad was a strict catholic who wouldn’t talk to us girls about the birds and the bees. Mum though, was straight laced and forward. But I’m talking about thirty years ago now, so we didn’t get the whole inclusion and LGBT talk as part of our chat. We were invited to talk, to learn and to ask questions. Because of our relationship with our mother I suppose it was easy to ask.
I am now mother to an absolutely gorgeous thirteen year old girl and a ten year old boy. Cara in particular is uninterested in boys, but being very well developed, they are interested in her. Both kids ask questions that are completely unexpected and catch me off kilter. The important thing being I didn’t feel embarrassed at all talking to them about puberty. I hope that every parent can have that relationship with their child before they have to face lessons about it at school.
So, feeling slightly hot under the collar I’ve had to talk openly and candidly about love, sex and sexuality with both of the kids. Below are some of my top tips.
Make it appropriate!
As you have nurtured and seen your child grow you will have an understanding of their level of reasoning and culpability. Personally I wouldn’t talk to my ten year old about certain things that my thirteen year old would have problems with. You know your own children, and what they’ve been exposed to so use your common sense.
Make it honest
I find it difficult to be honest and sensitive at the same time. It’s one of my great failings. But, I now that children are better at taking things in from the heart. I approached love before even mentioning making babies. Maybe it’s me being old fashioned, but I find love is a better foundation to start from. It’s been made slightly easier for me having just had a little one. I could explain that me and my partner are very much in love, so decided to make a baby (very simple but it was for an eight year old!). But be prepared for retorts, because as we all know kids have to know it all. His friend didn’t have a dad. Just a mum, so I had to gently explain that it needs a man and a woman to make a baby. Sometimes one or the other for some reason doesn’t want to be in the baby’s life. That was understood.
Today has been a great day for this. We have a lovely same sex couple who have a gorgeous little son near to us. He regularly plays with my kids. Cara my daughter was talking to him quite candidly about his mother being in love with another woman, and I thought this was quite sweet. I then talked to her about choices, and that loving a person is loving the soul within that person, doesn’t matter how it’s packaged. If her heart falls for someone packaged as a man, a woman, or a neutral person, that’s her heart’s choice, no one else’s. The important thing for all three to know is that I wouldn’t love them any less. Their happiness is paramount.
My children are fortunate enough to have friends who are already openly trans, or feel attracted to young adults of the same sex, and I’m fortunate enough to be open enough to talk to them about this.
Try to be humorous, but know when to be serious
I have a really wicked sense of humour, and sometimes, just sometimes I forget that my girl is only thirteen. Going back to the age appropriate thing, it’s really important that you censor until you feel your child is ready. BUT, that they know that things exist. There are people out there they both need to be aware, and mature enough to know what’s going on, and if they feel uncomfortable, they should talk to me or another adult about it.
This is wholly my experience thus far, I would love to hear about how you’re dealing with this? Please leave a comment or a link to your blog, and I’ll happily pop over because I don’t know if I’m doing this right. I’m just trying my best.