Wednesday 20 September 2017

Birds and the Bees: What to say to your children

There’s one moment that every parent is dreading from the moment their little one arrives... The moment when your child asks you about sex or anything to do with it! How are you supposed to explain something so complicated, and not always appropriate, in a way that they can understand without just fobbing it off using any old excuse!? It’s an absolute nightmare, but if you don’t teach them about sex properly, their only knowledge will be stuff they’ve picked up on the playground, and you don’t want teenage boys to be responsible for the ideas that your child has about sex because they aren’t going to be great!

It’s much harder these days as kids are going to be getting all sorts of conflicting ideas about sex when they’re online. Regardless of how well you protect them, you can’t avoid these influences completely so it’s up to us to teach them about sex properly and make sure that they aren’t influenced by anything else! I imagine we have a few years yet before Millie starts asking questions and it’s not going to be fun but we've just got to bite the bullet and get it over with. Here are a few tips to help ease things along...

Be Relaxed
The most important thing is to stay calm and relaxed throughout the conversation. If you are judgemental in any way, then your child is going to think that sex is something that they should be ashamed of and they won’t want to come to you in future with their problems. If you get it wrong the first time, they won’t feel comfortable talking to you and they might make some big mistakes when they’re a little older. Children are going to ask some pretty embarrassing questions but you just need to remain calm and try to answer all of them seriously.

Listen Properly
It’s tempting to rehearse your answers beforehand and reel off a long lecture about sex as soon as your kid mentions it, but if you do, you’re probably not answering their questions. When they start asking you about it, really listen to their questions. They might just want to know something fairly simple which doesn’t require a long explanation about the ins and outs of sex. If you come back at them with too much information that they weren’t ready for, you could scare them a bit. If you’re unclear about what they want to know, ask them a few more questions and really get to the bottom of what they are after.

Avoid having a knee jerk reaction to anything they say as well. Their questions are usually inspired by something that they’ve overheard or been told by somebody else. That means some of those questions might be inappropriate or they might express some pretty misguided views about sex. It’s important that you don’t get angry with them. It isn’t their fault that they don’t understand so you need to just explain to them why they were wrong without getting angry with them.

Be Age Appropriate
You need to think about what is appropriate for your children at their current age. If they aren’t very old, you should be careful about how detailed the information you give them is because they won’t be mature enough to understand it. Younger children are most likely to ask you where babies come from. You can tell them about the nuts and bolts of it all. Explain how the sperm and the egg combine to create a baby but it’s probably too early to get into detail about exactly what goes on under the sheets. They won’t understand it yet and it may confuse and worry them.

Teenagers are going to be a lot more difficult. They’ll already know about the science behind it, what they’re looking to find out is more about the relationship aspect. It’s crucial that you speak to them about this because they’ll be at the age when they’re starting to enter into relationships and think about having sex. It’s important that you teach them that they shouldn’t feel pressured into anything and should always respect their partners. With so much toxic information on the internet, it’s vital that you give your teenagers a healthy understanding of relationships and sex.

One of the most important areas to cover, especially with teenagers, is contraception. An accidental pregnancy is bottom of any parents wish list. Hopefully, they’ll be getting taught about contraception at school but it’s a good idea to go over it with them as well because they might want your help sorting out some contraception. Microgynon is a contraceptive pill that is used often so if your daughter is asking about contraception, it’s worth taking her to the doctor and asking about it. However, it’s also important to talk to them about the dangers of disease and infection as well as pregnancy. Taking your son or daughter to sort out contraception is the best way to be completely sure that they’re using some, and that they know what they’re doing with it. Talking to them about your own contraception needs is a good way to ease the embarrassment that they might be feeling.  

Encourage Them
The more they ask you about sex, the less likely it is that they’ll make mistakes in future. When they ask you those difficult questions, make sure you encourage them and let them know that it’s a good thing to be curious. That way, they’ll know that they can always come to you with questions about anything, not just sex. It’s a brilliant way to encourage openness between you and your child which is never a bad thing.

You can use this as an opportunity to teach your children about the importance of privacy. Make sure they understand that they need to respect the privacy of anybody that they may be having sex with in the future because teenagers love to boast about that sort of thing. It’s also the perfect time to teach them that you as parents need some privacy as well, it’ll help you to avoid any awkward encounters with them bursting into your room unannounced.

Talking to your kids about sex is always awkward, but it’s vital that you do it so just follow these simple tips and get on with it.
(Guest written post)


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