Tips for “having the talk” with your kids. Before someone else does…
There’s just no way around it.
Talking to our kids about S-E-X has to be one of the most awkward things ever. Even if you’re comfortable going into it, the minute your kids figure out where you’re headed you can usually count on them being all…
But for the love of our kids, we simply must. We’ve got to talk about this stuff, and we’ve got to keep talking about it. Because if we don’t, someone else will — most often, their peers, or (even worse) the internet. And that thought alone ought to motivate us to just open up the conversation.
Well, I’m not so sure there is any way to make these conversations easy, but I do have a couple of tips that just might take away a bit of the awkward. Here are my top three:
1. Make “The talk” an on-going conversation.
I highly recommend approaching the conversation as “the talks”, not “the talk.” And the earlier you start these, the better. I suggest you open conversations about sexuality when kids are 5-6. (especially if they’re going to school or spend time away from you) If you begin with simple conversations about the human body and God’s design for it early on, kids will not be as freaked out when you bring it up later!
2. Use books and other resources!
Thank God, we are not left to on our own for this challenging feat! There are tons of great books and other resources out there to help us along, and we are wise to take advantage of them! Here are two of my favorites:
God’s Design for Sex Series.
We have used each book in this series and I love how they move from very introductory to much more in-depth as kids get older. (I confess, by the time the boys were teenagers I just handed them the book and trusted they would read them. And you don’t usually have to force a teenager to read a book on this topic!) These books are factual, but also bring in the spiritual and moral values that I think are crucial to a good conversation about sex. You can get the whole set here: Full Set – God’s Design for Sex Series, 4 Books: (if you prefer to order them individually you’ll find each book sold separate on Amazon as well.)
Good Pictures, Bad Pictures.
This one is SUPER important because along with any conversation we have about sex in today’s world, we MUST educate our kids about pornography. And Good Pictures Bad Pictures is so helpful in doing that! I’ve shared about this book here before, but I just received the 2nd Edition and I think they’ve done such a good job with it! Good Pictures Bad Pictures is a book to read along with your child — and the book itself walks you through the story of a mom having a conversation with her child. (an excellent approach for this topic.) It shares the simple–but eye-opening science behind how pornography affects the brain and uses simple analogies to help kids understand the dangers and addictive nature of pornography. (Suggested age range is 7-11, but I had all of my boys go through it– either with me or on their own for the older teens.) I totally appreciate the 5-point “CAN DO Plan” which teaches kids exactly what to do to protect their minds if/WHEN they see pornography (because sadly, it’s almost guaranteed eventually they will.)
Amazon book link here: Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids
For those of you who have the first edition, the 2nd Edition also includes:
- “Let’s Talk!” discussion questions at the end of each chapter deepen understanding
- All new Tips for Parents and Caregivers section offers empowering, practical advice
- The most up-to-date science provides kids with even stronger arguments against porn
- A beautifully redesigned interior and cover makes it easier and more fun.
I highly recommend you check out the book’s website: PROTECT YOUNG MINDS. Sign up fro the email list and you’ll receive informative articles and really helpful information on topics related to raising kids in the digital world, porn-proofing kids, and more.
Also keep up with them on social media:
Levi, practicing his “CANDO” plan… 🙂
3.Kids will STILL have questions! Here’s a (less awkward) way to help them get answers. (with a free printable to get started with!)
One of my main motivations for opening up the conversation about sex and intimacy with my boys is so they know I am available to talk to them as questions come up. But no matter how available we make ourselves, most kids are just too uncomfortable to ask.
“You might be wondering…”
When my older boys were nearing their teenage years, I had a random inspiration to start some conversations in a creative way. I made up a little conversation tool I call: “You might be wondering…”
This is where I choose a time where we are just hanging out with few distractions and I put on my best game face (internal dialogue: “I’m not uncomfortable…this is normal…I can do this…”) and I open up the conversation with something along the lines of:
ME: “You know, when I was your age, I had a lot of questions about my changing body and sex and all of that.”
BOYS: *Wide eyes. Squirming in their seat. (but I continue…)
ME: “And I want to be sure you can always come to your dad or me if you have questions. I promise nothing you ask will make me uncomfortable.” (not a lie but perhaps wishful thinking.) I go on, “Do you have any questions?”
BOYS: Blank stare. Sweaty armpits.
ME: “Well, let me get us started…”
BOYS: “No mom, really…”
ME: (depending on their age and stage, this will vary, but as an example,) “I mean, sometime around your age, you might find that sometimes your penis just gets stiff and straight that might be a funny feeling. You might wake up that way, or it might just happen randomly. That is called an erection and it is very normal for this to happen, and usually a bit more often as you get closer to being a teenager.”
BOYS: Look away, slightly mortified. Finally, “Yea Mom. You don’t need to talk about this stuff, you know?”
ME: “Anyways, maybe that has never happened, or maybe it happens a lot. But I just thought I’d show you how easy it is to talk about this stuff. Now, if you don’t have any questions, we can move on. But I’m totally COOL (as a cucumber, right Mom…) if you have any questions…”
At that point I try to move on like it’s all no big deal. And they usually don’t ask any questions.
But then I do this again a few days or weeks later. I might cover “wet dreams” (which of course are properly termed “nocturnal emissions.”)… or a girl’s menstrual cycle. or anything else. Sometimes I have a bit of information, and other times I’m like “I have no idea WHY people get hair under their armpits. haha…” And sometimes…after they begin to believe that I really am not comfortable with this whole thing, (ahem. it’s all about the game face) my boys will actually ask a question. They’ve shown me a gesture that they’ve seen kids make, and asked what it means, or they’ve asked me to clarify something I had spoken about. (My favorite was when one of my boys got brave enough to ask “So…when did you and Dad quit having sex?” hahaha)
I ask my boys to PLEASE always bring their questions to their father or I before anyone else, and because we use the books (mentioned above) I think the main stuff is well-covered.
Now, because I happen to think this conversation starter is really helpful, I created a printable list of “YOU MIGHT BE WONDERING” conversations for you to use as a springboard for your own conversations with your kids! You might use the printable as an excuse to open up some conversations. (“This blogger woman who has a bunch of boys says this is what SHE does…”)
***Post-publish Note. There have been some technical difficulties with the download,(sorry!) but it should be working now…if you have any problems let me know in comments and I’ll get back to you! 🙂 Thx!
Ok friends — your turn to share! Any tips or tricks that have helped you ease the way into “The talks”? A resource you recommend? Any specific challenges you have faced along the way? Have you encountered any challenges because of what schools are teaching? Fill me in on your experience on this topic in comments below.
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ALSO — if you’re new to my blog you will find lots of other posts related to your growing kids….from a series on teen and pre-teen boys, to a (video) series on conversations to have with your tweens/teens now. I hope you’ll subscribe to my blog so you will be notified when new posts come out as well!