Let’s talk about sex, baby! (Age 8-13)

So you’ve passed the stage where it’s the simple explanation of the birds and the bees. “Where do babies come from?” seems like a walk in the park compared to the sexual landscape that is rapidly coming into view as your child approaches their teens. The worst thing you can do is stick your head in the sand and hope someone else helps then out with all they need to know.

I’m going to share with you what really works with your kids and how to go about having these conversations without awkwardness and embarrassment.

Remember that feeling when you started to get interested in romantic and sexual relationships? It started with fancying someone in the playground and not long down the line it was hands fumbling and lips wandering and you felt terrified you might get it wrong or you didn’t even know what was expected.

I don’t want my kids to feel any of that!

Let me tell you what is working with my kids and how I’ve supported my clients to embrace these sex conversations with their kids.

When we develop a really great relationship with our kids about sex we can have confidence that they’ll avoid the embarrassing situations so many of us found ourselves in. I can’t begin to count the number of times my boys and I have talked about how weird it can feel when you start exploring each other’s bodies as you begin to have relationships.

I’ve focused on the giggles and the fun and the fact that half the fun is not necessarily knowing what you’re doing, but feeling safe enough to talk about that. I’ve also shared with them that if they don’t feel safe enough to talk about these things then it can be a clear sign that this might not be the right thing for them to be doing with this person.

Here’s how to keep the conversations flowing with your child, when it comes to sex:

1. No matter what gender your child is, use the phrase “when you’re older and you have a girlfriend or a boyfriend…” so that your child never feels any discomfort with you about the way their sexuality is developing.

2. Allow any conversation to flow into a sex conversation. I remember one time when my 9 year old was watching a friend’s dog lick its genitals. He said, “I wish I could lick my penis. I bet it feels really good.” I responded to him that it most definitely would feel really good and that one of the great things you can do with another person, when you begin to explore these things, is you can lick each other’s genitals.”. The look on his face? As if all his Christmases had come at once!

3. Use proper words for body parts: penis, testicles, vagina, labia, clitoris. And PLEASE! Make sure you talk about the clitoris. If we can raise men and women who love their genitals and make time for the clitoris then well be raising a generation of very happy individuals.

4. Be open to any direction your child takes their curiosity about sex when they talk with you. I’ve had conversations about what it feels like to have an erection, whether I wish I had a penis instead of a vagina, what to do when you have a  wet dream, how to know when it’s OK to masturbate, what to do if you don’t enjoy what’s happening with another person, how to respond to someone else who says “No” to you and what to expect if you say “No” to someone else.

5. Talk about your own sex life if they ask, including some of the embarrassing, not so brilliant experiences. We want our kids to grow up with a healthy view of sex and relationships. We certainly don’t want them thinking that porn is normal or that the unfolding of relationships within movies is what to expect.

6. Have the courage to bring up issues that are in the movies you watch together. Or the portrayal of sex on billboards and in adverts. Explore the way women and men are portrayed in video games and in magazines. You know how you speak to a friend? Speak the same way with your kids – you don’t have to be teaching them all the time. Invite them into conversation.

7. Talk about the risks as well as the fun. STDs, unplanned pregnancy, emotional upset, abuse etc. They don’t need to be heavy and serious conversations. A drip feeding of these things into the other conversations we have will bring awareness for our kids and they will ask for more information when they need it.

8. Trust your child! If they ask  question then they’re ready for the answer.

What would you add to this list? Which parts of it leave you feeling petrified as a parent because it’s so different to your own experience growing up? I’d love to hear from you.

Come along to my Facebook Group and share your thoughts there.

And share this post with your friends – we all want our kids to have the most amazing relationship with their bodies, themselves and sex.