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Talk To Your Kids About Sex Before Someone Else Does

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Talk To Your Kids About Sex Before Someone Else Does

My kids get a bit confused when they hear stories about the lies we tell children about sex to “protect” them.  They just don’t understand what the big deal is.

A few months back, I was reading an article about sex (shocker, I know…).  Marcia was looking over my shoulder at what I was reading and asked what the article was about.  I told her some people would prefer to shield their children from sex and sexual images because they think it’s inappropriate for them to know and instead tell their kids things like a stork brings a newborn baby.  She asked me why would they do that. I told her even though sex is a natural part of being human, there are lots of people who are uncomfortable talking about it, and think if you talk about it with kids then the kids will want to go out and do it.  And as a result, it has an impact on the ability of some people to give accurate information when they talk to their children about sex.

To give Marcia an example of a child getting incorrect information, I told her about an episode of the TV show “Mad Men” this last season where Don Draper’s grade school aged daughter Sally says she knows what sex is and that the adult in the conversation doesn’t correct the misinformation because the topic is uncomfortable.  Here is the dialogue from the episode “The Chrysanthemum And The Sword” between Sally Draper and her babysitter:

SD: “Are you and daddy doing it?”
The babysitter (shocked): “What?!”
SD (boldly): “I know what it is. I know that the man pees inside the woman.”
Babysitter (concerned): “Where did you hear that?”
SD: “A girl at school.”
Babysitter: “You should talk to your mommy.”
SD (sadly): ”I don’t want to.”

After I told Marcia this story, she said to me, “That’s what the kids at school say! They say that the man pees inside the woman when they have sex!”.  Marcia was in 3rd grade when she heard this; two whole grades before this topic is even addressed in the curriculum at her school.  One thing to realize: at this young, prepubescent age urine IS the only thing that comes out of the penis so it is understandable that kids think that.  Understandable, but not excusable.  I was surprised at this outburst of new information and clarified to make sure she knew that’s not what happens.  Whew.  I’d totally lose all of my sex educator street cred if she did believe that!

Now, I know Mad Men is a fictional TV show set in the 1960’s.  I understand this is pretty accurate for how sex and sexuality was approached back then but it makes me sad to think that almost 50 years later there are still many parents who are not much more engaging or forthcoming than in this make-believe interaction.

The conversation in this TV show very well could be a conversation in real life today. Here is a little girl who is bold enough to say she understands more than she is being told and wants to talk about it.  Asking a question about the source of this “information” instead of correcting the misinformation makes it seem as if the information is correct.  As I said before, not correcting misinformation is in itself a message.

It is not the babysitter’s job to discuss sex with the child — it could have been an aunt, a cousin, or another adult — but in any case, it most definitely would be up to them to tell the parent(s).  Giving a play-by-play might be embarrassing but the parent absolutely needs to hear that the child is asking so things can be discussed.  It is in this moment when the child starts asking that a parent should be open and ready to answer questions or at least be comfortable with saying, “I don’t know, but let’s find out together.”

Something to note here: do not be angry, offended, hurt or any other emotion if your child starts the conversation about sex with someone other than you.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t trust you or feel comfortable talking to you.  Perhaps the timing or situation was just right to ask, but take the opportunity now yourself to sit down together.  When you do, please make sure you try to find a basic, matter of fact voice to use…one where there is no judgement or bias.

I was chatting with a few other moms recently and we got into the conversation about how and when to start talking to your kids about sex.  I related to them what I did, and what seemed to work for my children as a starter.  Of course, you’ve heard me say it before, I do not believe in “The Talk” as a one-time event; It’s an ongoing conversation. Anyway, years ago, when my children were maybe 3 and 5 years old, we sat down with a book on sex and sexuality (more along the lines of “where do babies come from”).  I read the book ahead of time so I would know, while we were reading and one of them had a question, if that answer would be addressed in the book or not… and also to know where in the book to skip ahead to if needed.  I personally sat down with both of my daughters together; I know some parents cringe at the idea of having a younger sibling listen in.  I’m sure to some extent Cindy absorbed that it was an intimate conversation and I was willing to have it.  I do believe she just enjoyed the sound of my voice because she was too young, she wasn’t so interested in the topic at the time, and it all just went over her head.  Marcia on the other hand, soaked it in like a sponge.

If your kids are already hitting puberty, don’t worry if you haven’t already started the conversations.  Just start now.  One way to start is this talk is not just penis in vagina/bird and bees stuff.  Start with puberty, you know, the changes that their bodies are going/going to go through.  There’s a lot of stuff happening to these little bodies.  Do you recall your first wet dream? Did anyone talk to you before it happened? If not, were you freaked out?  Do you remember your first period?  Did anyone talk to you before it happened?  If not, did you think you were dying?  We can save our children from the fear that is sometimes associated with these mundane, harmless facts of life.

They probably know more than you think.

Bottom line, sheltering your children is not helpful to them.  You are not with them all the time and other kids, or movies, etc have a greater amount of influence the older they get.  It is your job as the parent to give your child the tools and information they need to succeed in life.  This is no different.  If you would prefer that your child gets the correct information about sex, then sexuality needs to be discussed and accurate information needs to be shared by you.  I’m sure you don’t want someone else to do it for you.

This article has been republished with permission from Lanae St.John. Please visit Lanae St.John’swebsite  to view the original post and more of Lanae’s works.

Lanae St.John

Lanae St.John is a San Francisco Bay Area based Sexy Mamas Blogger, BoardCertified Sexologist, and Sex Educator. Her work with clients normalizes conversations about sexuality between parents and children, while helping adults to discover a more sexually positive outlook. By teaching parents to nurture the budding sexuality of their children in ways that foster self-respect and acceptance for the totality of their personhood, she helps them raise children who become empowered, beautiful, strong, sexually healthy adults. Lanae also coaches couples and individuals on their sexual questions and concerns, helping them to optimize their sexual experiences and achieve healthy adult sexuality via a sex-positive approach to sexual education. Lanae received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1991. She completed the Associate in Sex Education and Clinical Sexology before going on to receive her Masters in Human Sexuality in 2011 from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate studying Human Sexuality. Ms St.John is a contributing sexpert on the sex education site What They Are Asking.com. She is also co-founder for the site NotSoSecret.com, a site that seeks to empower women to discover and enjoy their own sexuality. She is a Sex & Relationship Panelist for the popular site Dick-n-Jane.com and is also an expert on gasm.org, a website combining sex educators and medical professionals together to talk about the female orgasm. Her blog, “The MamaSutra®” on Good Vibrations’ website, was voted into the Top 25 SF Bay Area Mom Blogs in 2011 and she was listed #1 in the GetLusty.com 30 Must-”Like” Sex-Positive Facebook Pages. Lanae also co-hosted Season 1 of a show called Sexxx Talk Radio on the Progressive Radio Network – the podcast can be found on iTunes. As The MamaSutra®, Lanae has been featured as a sex-positive parenting expert in SSEX BBOX – a web series documentary featuring people and experts from four cities around the world. Lanae is also featured in the not-yet released feature length documentary “Revolutionary Sex” (working title) by NuReality Productions. In March 2013, Lanae was part of a contingent of Sexologists to travel to China. She lectured on Childhood Sexuality: Fostering Growth Into Sexually Healthy Adults to the Chinese Sexology Association and was asked to submit her paper to The Chinese Journal of Human Sexuality. Coming soon, Ms. St.John can also be found as one of the Expert Faculty of Sex Coach U and as one of Dr. Ava Cadell’s “Love Coach All Stars”. A Board Certified Sexologist (American College of Sexologists, A.C.S.), Lanae is also a member of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (S.S.S.S), The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (A.A.S.E.C.T.) and the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (I.S.S.W.S.H.) Lanae is the proud mother of two daughters with whom she actively embodies her message of empowerment, freedom of expression, and a sex- and body-positive mentality.

Get in touch with Lanae via email at MamaSutra@me.com

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