The subject of changes happening in our body and lives during a maturing period is a battlefield full of landmines. Constant sneaking around, guessing what will be next move of the other side and evaluation of strengths and weaknesses. Do you think that dad you are has enough of knowledge and tools to talk about dangers of maturing?
Are you capable of eliminating the risks coming out of curiosity and desire of your children to know their body, sexuality, and sexual initiation? Dear father do you know how to talk with your children about sex? Mom, do you have skills needed to do that? How can you prepare yourself for it? What is the right moment to do this? Is there a right moment?
Lately, I became more interested in it. As a father, I decided to take a part in a new project called “Ask Dad”. We’re meeting with fathers of children in a different age to chat about their kids, about fatherhood and building relationships. At the same time, we are expanding our knowledge and by sharing our experience we are setting a certain level of understanding.
It’s not a mystery that our kids are growing. At the beginning, they ask lots of questions, they remember the words they overheard somewhere and most of the times they ask about their meaning. Very often some of those questions make us a little bit embarrassed, shocked or even confused. At the stage of primary school and before they have a tendency to ask about words they overheard from older children, siblings or parents.
We need to remember about some of the children rights and children protections laws. In the times of selfies, social media and common access to the internet it is important to be aware of the presence of half-naked and naked pictures in the internet. Our kids are growing up, the law is changing, social customs and definition of good and bad, legal and illegal as well.
Years are passing, little children are becoming older and boom! This moment is coming with us not expecting anything. Without any shame, your child is asking you what means “penis”, “pussy”, “condom” or “sex”. Is it natural curiosity or possible threat? As a parent, you have to choose carefully what words you will use, take into consideration child age and ask where this question came from. However, this post is not about that. When children are growing up and start to be aware of their physicality things are starting to look different. Metaphorically and literally.
Sexuality, sexual health, threats and… relationships.
As a parent I have to ask myself few questions:
- What makes those conversations more difficult than they are?
- What can make this conversation easier?
- Am I ready to talk about sex with my children?
So what makes talking about sex so difficult?
- An appropriate moment is a big factor. You will not ask your son at 6 am when eating a porridge for a breakfast about his current condition of sexual life! It is important to find a suitable moment and a good opportunity for it.
- You can make this conversation extremely difficult if you will sound like a Wikipedia! Whatever you’re saying sounds like a sentence from an encyclopedia. Quoting staff from biology books is not good enough. The sexual intercourse and its biological description is just half of what your child should know. Relationships and emotions are vital so don’t use Wikipedia as an inspiration.
- Another factor which makes it a challenge is our belief that our son or daughter still has plenty of time to talk about it. You would be surprised! Very often in early age, they are interested in it and are looking for pieces of information. It is important to listen and try to find out in what sort of zone is our child in regards to relationships and sex.
- Use appropriate words and language. You need to match it to your child age and level of development. We don’t wanna sound childish when talking with a teenager and too serious when talking with little 5 years old child asking questions.
- Do not judge! Showing interest in human sexuality is a natural thing, your child has a right to look for information about those things! Do not assume your child is heterosexual. Doing negative comments about gay relationships you might be doing a big harm to your child. I am heterosexual but I can not say a bad word about homosexual couples. What if your child is exploring love in a different configuration?
- Do not embarrass your child and don’t show that you’re ashamed or you feel uncomfortable while talking about sex. That can discourage your child from asking questions again. You need to remember that sometimes it takes a lot of time and courage to ask some of those questions.
Key point: timing, moment, language and knowledge!
On the other side, what can make this chat easier? Few tips for you
- Try to find out when a teacher will be doing lectures or classes about similar things. You can simply ask your child teacher to sent you an email before that will happen. Most of the schools have a set schedule and they will know much earlier when they will talk about sexuality. Show your interest and that can give you a way of starting a conversation with your child. You can tell your kid that his/her teacher notified you about particular topic being a subject of a lecture and ask if he/she knows anything about it or has any questions. Thanks to that you will have some extra time and it will look natural – you are just a parent asking questions about school and life.
- Having necessary information, appropriate for age and level of development of a child. Read some books and article, show some effort, there is plenty of information here and there which will help you to get familiar with the topic of sexuality and at the same time get ready to have a chat with your kid. Talk with teachers, discuss it with your partner. Show an interest and again don’t assume that your child still has plenty of time.
- Plan this conversation. Those sort of lectures are organized well ahead. The schools invite professors, doctors and other specialists in fields of human sexuality and sexual education. Very often they are presented in a very cold way, stripped of love, affection and those famous butterflies. There is no soul in them and they have a tendency to be pretty negative. Your child will be told about STDs, unwanted pregnancy and it’s consequences like not finishing school and troubles in life. What our children are getting is a big amount of fear but love and affection are not like that. There is a big difference in what your child will hear from a teacher and what will feel. It is your duty to add this element to education, you loved not once and maybe you still love someone. You’ve been in relationships, been married and maybe still are. Add a little bit of magic to this difficult conversation. Don’t stip off sexuality from its beauty but as well be careful to not make it look like a mockery.
- Try to read your child emotions and curiosity. By building a good relationship with your child you will be able to in a natural way start a conversation like that. By being a friend he or she will not have to look for information amongst friends.
Are you ready for a chat like that? Are you prepared to answer questions of your son or daughter in nursery / primary school age? How do you do that? What is a penis? Why daddy has a willie and mummy doesn’t? What means fanny and why people say cock?
You need to remember that it might happen that some of those words will be rude, even swearing. Outside the home, on a playground, at school, and in after-school club children are talking about plenty of stuff. Take into consideration everything that happens to your child and pay attention. Sometimes using bad words too often can be an indicator of something bad happening or a possible threat. Have an open mind in regards to exploring the subject of sexuality. Don’t silence your child and don’t end the subject without giving what your child needs.
I know that after reading this post you are one step farther than before you came here. Don’t worry, I have more lessons in plans!