XXXChurch: Parents Talk
Talking about sex isn’t like getting a driver’s license—there’s not a certain year requirement your child has to pass before you can say something to them about sex. There is no golden age, no perfect number of years your child must surpass in order to get their “I Now Know About Touchy Subjects” card.
You know your kids; you know your house. Feel it out. If you live on an isolated farm with no internet, no media, and no outside influences, then maybe you can wait until your kids are little older about these types of things.
But probably not.
Hopefully you’re already having normal, regular conversations with your kids—about their lives, what books they like to read, what movies they like to watch, who their friends are… all those sorts of things that come with parenting. You should already be in their world and have an understanding of their maturity level. You should already have an idea what they can handle and what they can’t.
As soon as you perceive they’re ready to handle the basic information, you need to step up and start the conversation.
I talked to both my son and daughter before they turned 8!
Don’t let the outside world beat you to the punch on this and potentially warp or distort the proper view of sex, technology, or even adulthood for your kids. They only get one chance to hear about anything for the first time—make sure you’re the one giving them that input.
Use Everyday Opportunities To Talk
This is actually just a good rule of thumb for parenting in general, but especially for talking about sex: incorporate what’s going on around you in everyday life. Be aware of opportunities that present themselves to you or your kids, whether they’re more subtle, like the announcement of a friend or relative’s pregnancy (or your own!), or they smack you in the face. When it comes to having these conversations, you won’t always have to revert to a textbook or manual—there are opportunities around you that you can talk about and relate with and to your kids.
Just keep your eyes open. You’ll know when the time is right.
Too Much Too Soon
If you’re like me, you want to have one talk about sex, share all the details, go over everything, and then be done with it. Just get it out of the way in one swift motion and then never have to deal with it again.
But you and I both know better. These conversations can’t look like that. Maybe that works for teaching your toddler how to use the Velcro strap on their shoes or your teenager the right way to start the lawnmower.
Talking about sex doesn’t work that way. There are too many layers.
When you initiate the conversation, you only want to introduce that first layer. The basics. Then stop. You have their entire adolescence to go deeper, so just stick to the facts and don’t give them too much information too soon.
So how soon is too soon? I specifically chose not to break it down according to age. We have read several books along these lines, and I was surprised that so many of them did just that—simply turn to the section marked “Ages Seven Through Nine” and you’ll find out exactly what to say to them about these kinds of touchy subjects.
Real life is not that easy.
Instead, you have to speak to your child’s level of emotional maturity, starting when they’re young and continuing all the way up to adulthood. Be mindful when you have these conversations that you’re only educating them with what’s necessary for that time and not giving them too much too soon.
My friend David and I wrote a book called Touchy Subjects - How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex, Tech and Social Media In A Touchscreen World.
You can pick it up for only $9.99 and we expand much more on all these topics