Are you ready to talk to your kids about sex? Are your kids?
Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
I confess that I still giggle to myself every time my kid says the word penis. Which is a lot.
Because my penis is something I don’t talk about very often. It is something not many people have seen. My kids know I use my penis for peeing. They do not know I use my penis for sex.
Sex is just something that many, many parents think of as a “hush” topic because we think of sex as a “hush” act. For example, my partner and I don’t have sex in public because that is how we have chosen to perform our sex. We have sex “hushily.”
So like the act of sex, the topic of sex becomes one we only talk about with one another. And the longer we talk about it quietly, the harder it becomes to want to bring our kids in on the discussion.
Why as parents do we struggle so much when it comes time to talk about sex with our kids?
So our kids talk about a fetus and a uterus. They know they have a vulva and that I have a penis and that a man can have a vulva and a woman can have a penis. They know about breasts, breastfeeding, menstruation, and pubic hair. My kids are pretty well-versed in the human anatomy and its development. They are well-versed because we have talked to them in simple language about them.
But when it comes time to say “in our family, daddy put his penis in mom’s vagina and sperm came out of his penis and went to the egg just like in the book,” we freak right the fuck out. We can’t say it. Crap, typing it made me sweat through my shirt.
Here’s a panda in the snow to help calm your nerves before moving on…
I’ve said way more ridiculous things to my kids, I promise you that. So where does the fear to say these words specifically come from?
I guess one of them is the awkward stares that will come when we are at the grocery store getting our free cookie and my daughter tells the person behind the counter “you see this guy? He put a penis in a vagina. This person’s vagina,” as she nods at my partner and I who are both now passed out on the floor.
And god knows that will happen.
Another is that doing this opens up the world of our “hush” sex to two people we don’t want to think about while we are actually having sex. If they ever walked in on us having sex (even though we are so “hush” about it) we wouldn’t be able to use “we were wrestling” or “we were doing couple’s yoga” excuses. No, we’d have to give the classic Max from the Grinch shrug as if to say “you got us, this is dad putting his penis in mom’s vagina time.”
Really and truly, this hard because few of us are conditioned to think using these words with our kids is easy.
How can you be ready?
The answer you give to the question “are you ready to talk to your kids about sex?” may not be “yes,” but it should be. It is for me too.
The tip I plan to use when we finally build up the courage to do this (I will do this this week if you do):
Honestly, just say the words to them. Blurt them out stream of consciousness style. Talk and talk and turn red in the face. Be nervous with your kids. Take a drink of wine. Give your partner a high-five.
You may laugh, they may giggle. But then let them ask questions. Answer those honestly without saying “you are too young to know that.” If you do not know an answer to a question, go research the answer.
Check out the resources offered by Dr. Nadine Thornhill because she helps you understand why you are anxious to talk about sex, why that is okay, and why you are going to do it anyway.
The things we plan to talk about with kids who are seven and five include: the idea that sex can be pleasurable and not just for making babies, that it happens between consenting adults, that different people find different things pleasurable, that there is no one way to have sex, and that “in our family, daddy put his penis in mom’s vagina and the sperm came out of his penis and went to the egg just like in the book.”
It’s important too to remind yourself that the information you give them is both invaluable and empowering. The more knowledge we give our kid at an early age, the better they will be prepared to make decisions for themselves later in life.
These are conversations kids can handle and that you can lead.
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