“The Talk” for Parents (Part 2)

If, “go ask your mother/father,” and “we’ll tell you when you’re older,” sounds familiar to you, you aren’t alone.  If they still didn’t tell you when you were older, they were vague, or you had one awkward conversation about the “birds and the bees,” you still aren’t alone.  It’s estimated over 40 percent of parents don’t talk to their children about sex (1).  When children and teens can’t talk to their parents, they rely on other sources for information, and not all of it is right, or even remotely sound.   

When I was younger, a friend of mine thought if she kissed a boy, she would get pregnant.  Another childhood friend thought she could get pregnant just by holding hands with a boy; and yet another friend thought she was dying when she had her first menstrual cycle. With all of these misguided friends, can you imagine how I lost, confused and even paranoid I would have been as a child if my parents hadn’t taken the time to talk to me about sex?

Usually when you hear the phrase “The Talk”, you already know what it means. If you’re like many parents, just hearing the phrase might make you a little squeamish and want to change the subject. But why? Sex is a common and healthy aspect of every day life. After all, without sex, there’d be no you, no me and none of our children. Therefore it’s high time we get rid of the stigma about talking to our children about sex because without a doubt, it you are too squeamish to talk to your own children about sex, there are plenty of pop songs, TV shows, books, teachers, classmates and even strangers who jump at the opportunity to tell your child everything they know about not-so dirty deed.

So today parents, you are getting THE TALK about “the talk.”

Lots of parents get nervous because they feel like talking about sex might make teens curious and experiment with sex.  

However, research suggests that may not be the case. According to a study published by the International Journal of Sexual Health (2), girls in the Netherlands tend to wait longer than American girls before engaging in sexual activity. They were also more likely to have sexual relations with partners that were mutually committed, while American girls were more likely to have sex for the excitement and opportunity, and partner or peer pressure. As a result, the Netherlands has one of the lowest rates of teen pregnancies and abortions in the industrialized world, while the United States has the highest.

Do you want to know what the differing factor was?  Open and comfortable dialogues with parents. Dutch girls and boys know their parent’s feelings about sex, and they listen.  Though teens in the Netherlands are ultimately responsible for their own sexual activity, parents have a large impact. They learn from parents’ understandings and experiences. In comparison, many American parents never share their thoughts on sex with their kids short of “Don’t come home with a baby” or “Don’t get pregnant.”  

With potentially damaging curriculum from school (3), lies from pornography (4), and the age of girls’ onset of menstruation getting younger, it is more important than ever to teach our children about sex.  

It’s not even just sex we need to talk to our kids and teens about. Small children need to know the names for their personal body parts and they need to know that they are private and special and no one should touch or ask to see those parts of their bodies. Many children who get molested or assaulted don’t tell anyone because they are scared, or they think they did something wrong. No child should have to go through that because they weren’t adequately informed as early as possible. Imagine your child and a friend are playing at yor home, but you have to step away for a minute to check something on the stove. If something inappropriate happens, you are more likely to know if your child is adequately informed. For example, you’ll come running much quicker if you hear your child yell, “Hey, don’t touch my vagina!” or “don’t touch my penis” than if you hear, “Hey, don’t touch my pocketbook” or “Don’t touch my tallywhacker” or some other silly pseudonym adults use for genitalia.

If you feel a certain way about sex, tell them.  If your religious beliefs have certain standards about sex, share them. Even if for whatever reason you don’t care if your children become sexually active, you still need to talk to them about “safe” sex (which really isn’t that safe) and healthy relationships. Talk to them about your experiences, your expectations, your thoughts on abortion, and the please don’t leave out the different venereal diseases that are affecting young people every single day. 

The point is this: everyone has sexual organs and almost everyone will eventually have sex. We as parents need to be our child’s main sexual health educator–throughout childhood and into adulthood. STD rates are continuing to increase and the people affected most are youth and young adults age 15-24. Abortion is practically not even taboo anymore and there are people actively fighting against traditional marriage so that polyamorous promiscuous lifestyles can be the norm.

Now more than ever, we need to educate our kids about sex so they can be empowered to choose abstinence until marriage as the healthiest option for optimal sexual development.

Helpful Resources for Parents and Teens:

 

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References

1) Lampros, J., (2014). The sex talk: Kids and parents are not communicating. Standard Examiner.  http://www.standard.net/Health/2014/11/04/talking-to-kids-about-health.

2) Brugman, M., Caron, S. L., & Rademakers, J. (2010). Emerging adolescent sexuality: A comparison of American and Dutch college women’s experiences.  International Journal of Sexual Health, 22(1), 32–46. 10.1080/19317610903403974

3) Soelberg, C. Training your child to be a gender and sexual rights activist. United Families International. http://unitedfamilies.org/email-archives/training-your-child-to-be-a-gender-and-sexual-rights-activist/?inf_contact_key=c2384570027692884f1f75bf6a328243e598973c6d5ee97eae70c48e2054a32c

4) Orenstein, P. (2016, Mar., 19). When did porn become sex ed? New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/opinion/sunday/when-did-porn-become-sex-ed.html?_r=0    

Images

https://www.pexels.com/photo/hands-portrait-child-57449/

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