All children have sexual feelings. These feelings are a normal part of growth and development.
Talking about sex can be awkward, but the earlier you start
the discussion, the better prepared your child will be to make safer decisions
about it. And your child may be better able to deal with peer pressure and media influences as he or she gets older.
If you are unsure of how to begin such a conversation,
use everyday situations as an icebreaker. Use examples on TV or a teen's
pregnancy to start a discussion. You can practice talking about sex with your partner, a friend, or another parent. If you feel that you can't talk to your child about sex, ask your doctor, a trusted aunt or uncle, or a religious leader to do it. If you wait for
others-friends, school staff, or another adult-to address sex, you do your
child a disservice.
Movies, TV, music lyrics, music videos, Web sites, and more can affect how your child thinks and behaves.2, 3 Talk to your child about how the media can have an impact on him or her. Be aware that children
have easy access to many Web sites with sexual or pornographic content. Keep
the computer in a shared area where you can see what your child is doing
Talking to your son or daughter about sex
Before middle school
they are sexually active or not, children need help to make responsible choices
about sex. Talking about sex does not encourage sexual activity in children.
Some studies show that talking openly and honestly about sex can prevent
teenage pregnancy.7 Having an open, honest
relationship with your child will largely depend on the quality of the
relationship you have built to this point.
The best time to begin
the discussion about sex is when your child is in elementary school. A good way
to start is to admit that talking about sex may be awkward, but that your child
should not ever be afraid to ask you questions. Discussing sex and sexuality
with your child is not a one-time conversation, however. As he or she grows and
matures, your child naturally has questions about sexuality. The more you can
give guidance, the better prepared your child will be to make responsible
Your local library, church or synagogue, or
organizations such as Planned Parenthood will have information to help you talk
to your kids about sex and family life issues.
Middle school and high school
As children enter their teen years, they begin to have more
interest in dating, and many become sexually intimate with a partner. Almost
half of adolescents will have had sexual intercourse by 10th grade. And by 12th
grade, 63 children out of 100 have had sexual intercourse.1Teens face a lot of peer pressure to have sex. So if your teen is not ready to have sex, he or she may feel left out. Help your teen understand that many teens decide to wait to have sex.