Teach your child about sex

Sex education is vital to kids feeling comfortable about their bodies, and thus should start in the home.

Truth be told, if parents don’t educate their children about sex, they will learn about it from somewhere else, exposing them to misinformation that could affect how they view sex and sexuality in future.

Though it might be believed by some that sex education leads to promiscuity, having a conversation about sex and sexuality, relationships and the body openly with your child contributes significantly to not only answering their questions, but their sexual development. It affords you as a parent an opportunity to instil family values, which will go a long way in shaping their choices in life.

Inquisitiveness about sex is not unusual, and as a parent it’s important to understand that it’s never too early to discuss sex with your child. Education assists kids to have an understanding about their body and helps them feel positive about it. Chatting about sex is also part of starting open communication with your child, because early and honest heart-to-heart talks between kids and parents is vital, especially for they enter the scary stage of adolescence. Then you would to already have your channels of communication fully operational to approach issues such as alcohol, drugs and relationships.

The trick is not only relying on the school system to carry the sexeducation task alone, but for theparent to enquire about what thekid was taught at school, and possibly correct misinformation or misunderstandings.This I learned with my own mom. This prevents a parent having to have often uncomfortable talka when the kid is a teenager.

My mother made sure that she was my first source of information on sex, as soon as I got inquisitive about it, and luckily for her that was not too early in my life, but just as I started puberty. Nonetheless, with my child I have learned that today’s kids are a bit different, and might I say too curious, forcing us as parents to engage in sex education earlier.

Younger kids, I have, however, learned are more interested in pregnancy and babies, rather than the technicalities of sex. Just the other day, my four-year-old asked me if I had a baby in my tummy, and just when I was about to answer she unexpectedly went ahead and asked me where do babies come from?

At this moment I told myself that its only best that I make sure my child gets the right age-appropriate information. I asked her questions to find out exactly what she knows.

“Do you think there is a baby in mommy’s tummy? And where do you think babies come from?

“Yes, mommy has your sibling in her, and babies don’t grow in their mommy’s tummy but in a special place inside her tummy called the uterus,” I said.

She struggled with the pronunciation of uterus, I told her not to worry as she will eventually get it right when mommy explains it again. I told myself not to bombard her with too much information and to just answer the questions that she asked for now. I tried being as honest as possible, as I know children can often figure out when parents are not telling them the truth. That would result in them being less likely to be receptive to you in the future.

Some children, however, never ask their parents any question. If your child is like that, it’s always advisable to initiate the sex conversation. However, it might be worthwhile to think about what to say and how to say it ahead of time. Preparation is key and lucky for you there are many sources.

There are a lot of interesting age-appropriate books on sex for both kids and parents, that assist with sex education. It’s understandable that you might feel embarrassed talking about sexuality,
and self-conscious using words like “penis” or “vagina” in talk about bodies. That’s common, hence it’s a good idea to prepare yourself first.

The crucial message to get across to your child from an early age is that he or she can come to you for transparent, truthful and trustworthy information, and that they shouldn’t feel fearful to ask you about sex and sexuality. For example, if you see a pregnant woman, use that as talking point to start the conversation.

Don’t be too hard on yourself as talking about sex and sexuality isn’t a once-off conversation that you have to get precisely correct, but rather a discussion that carries on and develops as your child grows up.

When both parents get involved in talking about sex, they indicate to the child that it’s not a taboo or forbidden to talk about it, and this helps the child feel more relaxed about discussing their body. Such a child is more likely to open up to a parent about future intimate relationships and sexual feelings.

Your child does not expect you to be an expert on any topic, the same goes for sexuality and sex. So, it’s okay to say when you don’t know. Try saying something along these lines: “Interesting
question you just asked. I don’t have the answer right now; however, I will look for some information and get back to you.”

And to show that you take the conversation serious, go look for the relevant information and get back to the child, or ask the child if they would be interested in looking for the information with you – a way to learn together.

When engaging in sex education with your child, it’s important to make clear that sexuality is not merely about sex, but rather about the way one feels about your developing body, how you grow and uphold relationships, and how to recognise and show emotions of intimacy.

As mentioned, sex education affords parents a chance to impart family values in their children. For instance, if your family or you, as parents, believe sex should be saved for marriage, this can be part of the chat about sexuality.

If the topic of values has not been bridged with the kids, sex talk might help instil such principles. Refraining from talking about sex with the children can result in parents having little or no control over what their children learn about sex.

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