Many parents avoid talking about the facts of life with their children.
But that’s a really bad idea because someone who’s never talked to their mother or father about sex generally won’t talk about it with their sexual partners either. Causing endless problems in their relationships.
They’ll also probably start having sex earlier, have more pre-marital sex, more partners and use contraceptives less.
And talking to your children about the facts of life is easier than you think.
Start by just listening to them when they’re small and letting them know that you’ll always answer anything they ever ask. And from their very first ‘birds and bees’ questions, make talking about sex feel absolutely normal, with brief, honest and age-appropriate answers. Not possible at that particular moment? Then say so, and fix a time later. Don’t try to shut them up or get angry.
Use real names for body parts. Anything else tells your children that sex is some sort of taboo. And never give them a hard time, even if you’re worried by what you’re hearing. Or next time they’ll keep quiet. Use good eye-to-eye contact, avoid contradicting them and check that you’re understanding what they’re talking about.
Answer every question and never knowingly tell them something that’s untrue, even with the best of intentions. You don’t have to give them every last little detail, but there’s no point in hiding the realities of life from your children. And you must be honest with them if you want them to be honest with you.
Make sure you always know where your children are and who they’re with because as they reach adolescence, their friends may entice them to stray and their own rising interest could also get them into trouble. Do a lot of listening and you’ll hear the signs of a problem long before anything happens. And make sure you also talk to your sons, not just your daughters!
Know all their friends, especially those who are older, and listen for any talk of romance. Because teens with older romantic partners are much more likely to have sex. Don’t take sleepovers lightly. If anything strikes you as odd, it is.
As your children reach their teens, they’ll start keeping their thoughts to themselves. Respect their need for privacy and instead listen when they’re ready to talk.
Teens feel self-conscious about almost everything so respond sympathetically or they won’t try again. Keep what they tell you confidential, and don’t reveal your feelings, even if you’re boiling inside. Just help them sort out the problem and be pleased they came to you at all.
Gradually, give them more freedom as their judgment improves, because you can’t protect your children from everything. And there comes a time when you have to trust them to make their own decisions.
Just make sure you’ve done your best to prepare them for that day, with good information and values, and they’ll do just fine.