On Parenting How to talk to kids about sex Phyllis Fagell has dealt with her share of awkward sex questions from middle school kids. Here are some tips for parents on how to have the sex talk with their families. I had talked to him about love for years , but I must have glossed over the mechanical piece.
No amount of parenting readies you for a roomful of curious year-olds. To prepare me, my principal showed me questions kids had asked in the past. I could do this. Kids have five core needs when it comes to sexuality, Roffman explains. They need affirmation and unconditional love; information about healthy and unhealthy behaviors; clarity about values such as respect and integrity; appropriate boundaries and limits; and guidance about making responsible, safe choices.
Within that framework, here are seven tips to help parents raise kids who know how to make well-considered decisions. She recalls a student who avoided trampolines because she believed that every time a girl is jostled, an egg dies. Another girl sobbed in a bathroom at a water park when she got her period for the first time. Yuri Ohlrichs, an author and sex educator at Rutgers Netherlands, says that kids are picking up information from peers and the Internet and that parents need to debunk myths.
Admit discomfort and stay calm For parents, acknowledging discomfort is a good first step. She then urges them to name those values to their kids as young as possible. By taking this approach, parents can teach the importance of compassion, honesty and respect long before they broach them in a sexual context.
Last year, her eighth-graders wanted to teach fifth- graders about consent. They showed an image of the prince kissing Sleeping Beauty along with nonsexual examples of consent. By the end of the presentation, the students understood why Sleeping Beauty was incapable of agreeing to the kiss. What do they hope their child will learn? Parents also can draw a line when kids ask intrusive questions. Address stereotypes and gender differences Ohlrichs encourages adults to take a positive approach to both male and female sexuality.
She also talks to her kids about sexting and shares other Internet cautionary tales when they unfold publicly. Books about sex, gender and reproduction are readily available in her home. Ohlrichs suggests that parents raise indirect questions using the news or research. What do you think of that? Understand the developmental phase Different ages pose different challenges, Roffman says.
After I talked to my 9-year-old, he asked only one thing. Parents need to be brave enough to tell them. Fagell is the school counselor at Sheridan School in the District and a therapist at the Chrysalis Group. She tweets pfagell and blogs at phyllisfagell.