February 14, 2014

Dear Frannie Friday--"The Talk"

My oldest son is thirteen.  It may seem way too young to have the sex talk with him, but in all honesty, it isn't.  We actually had "the talk" with him a couple of years ago.  I know that this can be a sensitive issue for a lot of parents.  A lot goes into it--beliefs, religion and the like--but it is soooooo important.  They do teach some basics in school, but trust me, it's not sufficient.  I am a big proponent of sex education because I had my oldest son at 18 years old.  I got pregnant on the pill when I had a bout with strep throat.  And I was unaware that antibiotics can nix the birth control effect. 

In general, I know that some of these tips will not apply to your situation depending on your belief system.  But I do think they are a good guideline in general.

1.  Take your time.

This is not a talk to have on the drive to school or in a hurry between activities.  Be sure to set aside a generous amount of time to discuss the topic.  You don't want to bombard your kid and make them feel like they can't ask questions.  Plus you want them to be able to absorb the information.  I would choose a weekend afternoon or evening and maybe take the child out to lunch or dinner or on a walk downtown or a hike in the mountains. 

2.  Instill the "no stupid questions" mentality

You want your child to feel free and open to come to you with questions or for advice.  You want the lines to remain open so that they don't feel ashamed.  This will not only help your child to be informed, but it will keep you informed of things they are going through, social issues at school and help them to pan out big decisions.  Be prepared, though.  Try not to be shocked by some of the questions you may encounter. 

3.  Take comfort cues

This doesn't have to be a family event.  If you know that your child would be more comfortable with one parent rather than both, accommodate that.   For us, Patrick spoke with Kaden because we felt he would be more comfortable with a father-son combo.  And don't be afraid to go beyond your household either.  If you are a single parent and feel that your child would be more comfortable with someone of their own gender, feel free to enlist the help of a relative or friend that you know your child would be comfortable with.  Also, location.  If you know your child would feel uncomfortable having this discussion in a crowded restaurant, opt for a more private setting. 

4.  Gauge their maturity

Personally, I don't think it's ever too early to answer kids' questions on their body, but obviously there are different subjects that are appropriate for different ages.  Younger kids wouldn't require much medical terminology or anything really beyond what parts are considered private.  If you're interested, here is a really good Ted Talks with Julia Sweeney on how she spoke with her young daughter about sex. 

5.  Embrace the awkwardness

It's gonna be awkward.  For parents and kids.  It's gonna start out embarrassing.  But only at first.  Try to just get over it.  Because the end result will be that your child will be informed and willing to come to you when they need to.

Do you have a suggestion or question for Dear Frannie Fridays?  Feel free to email me at franniepantz@hotmail.com   

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