How (Not) To Have The Talk With Your Child

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

A Better Way To Have The Birds And The Bees Talk:

Being a parent is anything but easy. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by day-to-day life, let alone finding time to sit down and talk to your kids about the really important stuff.

And if you’re a parent, sooner or later you’re going to need to discuss sexuality and reproduction with your kiddo. But what’s the BEST way to talk to your kids about sex?

If your own upbringing was like that of many people, you want to do better than your parents did when it comes time to discuss the birds and the bees with your child.

But what is that better way? (Or, for that matter, when is the right time to have The Talk with your child?)

I was one of the lucky few whose parents did a good job with this subject. But in talking with peers over the years – first as a teen and a college student, and more recently with other parents – it seems that many others haven’t been as lucky.

So if you want to know how to rock the sex talk with your kids, this post is for you:

How to Talk To Your Kids About Sex

Also known as

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

How (NOT) To Have The Talk With Your Child:

1. Having “The Talk” Is SO Last-Century

How many times a day do you remind your kids to do really basic things? Like hang up their coats, put their shoes away, make their beds, clear the dishes, flush the toilet, or wear their bike helmet?

I’m guessing that whatever important life lessons you try to teach your child,

a) the lessons started when your kids were really young, and

b) they’re things you’ve had to repeat more than once.

Why should talking to them about human sexuality and reproduction be any different?

Having 'The Talk' with your child about the birds and the bees is so last-century. Here's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.Click To Tweet

Hear me out:

The nuts and bolts of reproduction (and perhaps sexually-transmitted infections) that you learned in middle-school health class are only a tiny sliver of human sexuality. Especially in the #metoo era, your kids need to know about boundaries, consent, and so much more.

And believe me, in the era of the Internet and sexting, they WILL be learning about sexuality one way or another. (Probably far younger than you can imagine.) The earlier you begin this conversation with them, the better your chances of being able to steer the narrative.

In the era of the Internet and sexting, kids WILL learn about sexuality. The earlier you begin this conversation with them, the better your chances of being able to steer the narrative.Click To Tweet

2. Broaden your thinking

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

Because human sexuality is about so much more than the birds and the bees, it’s important to start laying a healthy foundation from the time your child is born. Here are some of the ways you can do this:

  • Use correct body-part names with your child from the time they’re an infant. Instead of “wee-wee,” “winkie,” or “down there,” say “penis” or “vulva.” Teaching the correct names of ALL body parts – not just the ones like head, shoulders, knees, and toes – sends a message that all parts are equally good and OK to talk about, and none are shameful.
  • When you’re changing your child’s diaper, avoid negative judgments or statements like “Eww, yucky, isn’t that gross?” Even such innocent comments can start to create negative connections in your child’s mind between their genitals and what comes out of them. Instead, focus on more positive statements – “There, I bet that clean, dry diaper feels better.”
  • When your child goes through those fun phases of running around without clothing, or touching their own genitals because it feels good, don’t overreact or scold them. Doing so will only teach them to associate their own naked bodies and pleasurable feelings with shame. A better approach is to say something like, “I know that feels good, but those are things we do in the privacy of our own home, when other people aren’t around – they’re not things we do in front of other people.”

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

3. Teach – and model – healthy boundaries from an early age

Do you allow your kid to go around walloping other kids all the time? I’m guessing not.

Teaching children that we don’t hit, bite, kick, etc. other people is an important first step in teaching healthy boundaries.

And understanding their own (and others’) boundaries is a critical starting point for future consensual relationships of all sorts, whether with a dating partner or a workplace bully.

I remember being so impressed when I volunteered in the girls’ preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Their teachers were already hard at work teaching kids to respect each other’s personal space.

Here are some ways you can teach your child about respect and healthy boundaries at home:

  • Your child doesn’t want to give Great Aunt Alice a hug? Or begs you to stop tickling them? Respect their wishes. They need to know that their voices matter, and that the boundaries they set for themselves are valid.
  • When you’re bathing your small child, teach them to properly wash their own genitals (using correct body part names, e.g. vulva/clitoris/penis/scrotum) just as you teach them to properly wash their other body parts. As you do so, it’s worth mentioning that except for parents or medical professionals in certain settings, it’s not OK for other people to touch or look at their genitals without their permission. (Nor should they be touching other kids’ – or adults’ – genitals.)
  • While you’re at it, teach your child that if someone ever says or does something to them that hurts or doesn’t feel right – especially if they ask your child to then “keep it a secret” – your child needs to tell you or another trusted adult as soon as possible.

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.4. Acknowledge all questions positively

Whom do you want your teenager turning to when they have questions?

You?

Or their friends (who probably aren’t the most reliable sources of information)?

Becoming an askable parent starts at birth.

Whatever your child asks, no matter where, no matter how young, it’s important to respond positively.

“I’m so glad you asked me that. That’s a really good question!” is always a great way to start. (And if you’re nervous, they are also great ways to stall for time while you collect your thoughts!)

If the time and place aren’t great – say, you’re in the middle of a checkout line – follow with “Let’s discuss that more later on the car ride home/when we get back home/someplace where it’s not so noisy”/whatever. (Then be sure you follow up!)

Telling your child to “shush!” will signal that you are NOT someone they can turn to with important questions like these.

This won’t stop them from asking; it will just mean they no longer ask you.

Affirming their question – even if you’re momentarily embarrassed in a public place – will send the message that you’re someone they can talk to about these important matters.

Becoming an askable parent starts at birth. Affirming your child's questions with 'I'm so glad you asked me - that's a great question!' sends the message that you're someone they can turn to with their important questions about human sexuality.Click To Tweet

5. Instead of “The Talk,” think “ongoing conversation”

Kids are naturally curious. When they ask questions, keep your answers to the point and age-appropriate.

If your preschooler grumbles about eating vegetables, you’re not going to give them a ten-minute talk about all of the macronutrients in every vegetable on their plate, followed by another lecture on scientific studies linking vegetable consumption to better lifelong health outcomes. (At least, I hope not!)

Instead, you’ll probably tell them something short and sweet, like “Eating vegetables helps you grow up healthy and strong.”

Likewise, a preschooler who wants to know where babies come from doesn’t need the full story of the entire human reproductive cycle from puberty onward. And a child who asks “Where do babies come from?” is probably asking, “Where did I come from?”

A short-and-sweet answer like “A baby grows inside a woman’s uterus until it’s ready to be born” is specific and uses correct terminology, while answering your young child’s question.

This raises another important reminder:

6. Figure out what your kid is really asking

Rather than diving right into a flustered answer, make sure you know what your kid is really trying to find out.

A good way to do this is to ask THEM questions back.

For example, after validating their question (see #3 above), you might add, “What made you think of that question?” or “Where did you hear that term?” This will give you additional insight, so that you can answer what your child really wants to learn (and find out what they already know/think they know), without giving them a whole lot of extra info that doesn’t really address their concern.

It’s also important to figure out whether your child is asking a fact-based question or a values question.

Answering fact-based questions:

If you know the correct answer, you can answer the question. If you don’t, this is OK to admit to your child!

All you have to say is,

“I don’t know, but I can find out.”

Then be sure to do your research (see the Resources section at the end) and follow up with your child.

Answering values-based questions:

As a parent, you SHOULD share your values with your child. But at the same time, you need to encourage them to think critically about values (yours as well as others’), and learn to make their own decisions based on all the information.

There’s no point in pretending that values different than your own don’t exist. Your kids are going to figure it out sooner or later anyway (if they haven’t already). Acknowledging that other viewpoints exist will both raise your credibility as a reliable source of information, AND give your kids the parental guidance they want as they form their own values.

Speaking of which,

7. Kids want to know your values

As kids get older, they want your guidance as a parent on values. THIS is what you should share with them – not graphic examples of your own experiences and/or missteps. You are their parent, not their peer.

If kids of any age ask about your own sexual relations with your spouse (or previous partners), you should tell them that this is private information between you and the other person, and you don’t discuss these things with others.

Instead, use this formula to answer your child’s values-based questions:

“For some, _______; for others, _______; for our family, _______.”

This formula will make clear where your family stands on the question, while acknowledging that not everyone shares your family’s take on things:

  • Let’s face it, your child has probably already encountered these other viewpoints, which may well be why they’re asking the question!
  • This response both acknowledges what your child has heard, AND makes clear the values that you want to teach your child.

This formula is also super-helpful when balancing a child’s questions with your own fears that your child may run off to school and rock the boat with their newfound information:

  • I’ve had to explain to both my kids over time that, while our family discusses these topics at home, not all their peers’ parents feel the same way.
  • Because of this, my girls need to understand that their friends’ parents should be the first ones to raise these issues with their own children. Just as not all my daughters’ friends go to church or have been practicing math at the dinner table since they were toddlers, not everyone gets to grow up with access to some of the books I’ve mentioned below. While these topics are important, my girls need to respect that most of their peers’ parents would rather be the first ones to discuss these subjects with their own kids.

8. Consume media as a family

It’s important to stay on top of what your kids are doing online, and what shows/movies/YouTube channels they’re watching. You can then use this knowledge as a starting point for family conversations about sexuality, values, boundaries, and consent.

If your kids are obsessed with something they heard about from their friends, use this as a teachable moment: sit down and watch it with them. Then you can debrief them on what they saw, what they thought of it, and whether the characters made good choices or treated other people with respect.

When my younger brother Evan and I were growing up, Evan was forever coming home from the bus stop with tales of the latest R-rated movies. Another boy at the bus stop, Danny, was the same age as Evan – but as a 6, 7, and 8-year-old, he got to watch “R” movies with his older brothers (and his parents’ blessing).

One day my mama got sick of this, picked one of the movies, and insisted that my brother and I watch it with her. Afterward, she led us through a thorough discussion of the choices the characters had made, how those choices had turned out for them, and whether the movies were as wonderful as Danny had made them out to be. My brother quickly realized that Danny’s version of these films had been exaggerated at best.

With online predators, sexting, and pornography just a click or two away in the internet era, staying on top of your kids’ media consumption is more important than ever. Limiting screen time, setting family ground rules for online activities (e.g., limiting device use when adults aren’t around), and staying on top of your kids’ browsing habits are just as important as teaching them appropriate online behavior (e.g., if you’re not OK with your grandparents or future boss seeing it, you shouldn’t post it).

9. Stock your family library with helpful resources

There are so many great resources available to help with becoming an askable parent – the kind of parent your kids will turn to when they have questions about sexuality and relationships.

While you can read these books together with your child, the children’s books I am listing here are also appropriate for kids to read to themselves at the recommended ages.

For toddlers and preschoolers:

Where Do Babies Come From? (The Just-Enough Difficult Topics Made Easy Series) by Dr. Jillian Roberts – A great introduction to the basics from a mother and renowned educator with a Ph.D. in psychology. The Q&A format makes this book super-user-friendly for parents, and is a great “first introduction” to this topic for very young children.

What’s In There? All About Before You Were Born by Robie H. Harris follows two siblings and their conversations as they await their new baby sibling’s birth. Written specifically for kids ages 2-5, it’s an accessible storybook that combines dialogue between the soon-to-be big brother and sister with factually correct information about the growth and development of their not-yet-born sibling.

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

Though less recently published (and thus somewhat harder to find), another useful book along these lines is Where Do Babies Come From? (DK Books). A great first book about how life begins in seed form, from flowers to ducklings to kittens to human infants. Not too graphic or detailed (if that is a concern for you), this book uses repetitive structure and broad strokes to make its point, with just enough information to cover the bases for soon-to-be older siblings.

There’s also Where Do Babies Come From? Lift-The-Flaps First Q&A (Usborne Books) – Fun lift-the-flap design, although somewhat mixed reviews for its organization and format.

For pre-K through first-graders:

Who Made Me? by Malcolm and Meryl Doney is a great choice for families of faith who want to give their children the gift of accurate information, without denying the role of God in the miracle of life. (Try reading through the Gospel accounts of Christ’s conception and birth with your kids, and getting them to understand why the virgin birth was such a big deal, if they don’t understand the facts of life yet. Ditto why Joseph considered divorcing Mary quietly. My girls and I had quite the discussion about these topics last December when we read through Luke as a family during Advent!)

It’s Not The Stork! by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberly is a classic introduction to human development and reproduction for children ages 4-7. Written with input from parents, kindergarten teachers, and pediatricians, this book covers everything from why boys generally pee standing up while girls usually pee sitting down, to what are “okay touches” and “not okay touches.” Combining factual information and sensitive drawings with a hilarious side running commentary from a bird and a bee, it’s a thorough yet accessible resource for all those questions that young kids might ask their parents.

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

For early elementary students:

It’s So Amazing, also by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberly, is written for ages 7-10 and is a perfect introduction to human sexuality, reproduction, and puberty. Children are reaching puberty earlier than ever before; girls beginning puberty as young as age 7 is becoming more common, thanks in part to sugary drinks and the obesity epidemic. This helpful book, featuring the same bird/bee and cartoon style as its younger-age companion, explains the process in age-appropriate ways to the early-elementary set, so they know what to expect in case they find themselves among the ranks of “early bloomers.”

For tweens:

The next book by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberly, It’s Perfectly Normal, is written for kids ages 10-13. Like the others in this series, this book is thorough in the bases it covers, and illustrates them with engaging cartoons that make it read more like a graphic novel than not.

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.

Reading the reviews of this book on Amazon is more indicative of parents’ varying comfort level in educating their children about sexuality than anything else:

  • While some parents feel the book is too graphic for any children under the age of 13, others have found that kids this age and older are less interested in the cartoon-style presentation of this version.
  • In my experience as a trained sexuality educator of children grades K-12, I have found few older tweens who don’t find this book useful. In fact, it’s the required “textbook” for our church’s sexuality education and values formation program for grades 4-6.

For teens:

I received a free copy of *this book in exchange for my honest and unbiased review; all opinions are my own.

Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.Changing Bodies, Changing Lives, by Ruth Bell, is a thorough handbook for teens that covers everything they and their friends may be facing or wondering. Written in conjunction with teenagers, and featuring interview excerpts from hundreds of actual teens, it covers everything from bodily changes, relationships, and teenage hormones to eating disorders and living with violence or substance abuse.

In my experience working with 7th- and 8th-graders in our church’s sexuality education and values formation program, middle-school students would rather NOT discuss these topics with grownups. But this classic book, currently in its 3rd edition, gives them thorough answers to many of the questions they’re afraid to ask, or encounter in conversations with their peers.

*In Case You’re Curious: Questions About Sex From Young People, With Answers From The Experts (Planned Parenthood) is somewhat more narrowly focused on sexuality, anatomy, reproduction, and relationships than the previous book – but is also even more accessible. Just released in 2019, it’s the newest book I’m including here, and it’s definitely a book written for the 21st century.

Much as I love the previous book, it reads like something written for the pre-internet era, when attention spans were longer – and the photos can definitely come across as dated. This newer book answers hundreds of questions in “sound-byte” format (one question per small-format page), and includes an entire chapter of Q&A on consent. Though the questions are grouped into topic-specific chapters, its format is perfect for either a cover-to-cover read or use as a quick reference guide.

Resources for parents:

From Diapers to Dating: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children, from Infancy to Middle School is the revised version of Rev. Debra W. Haffner’s landmark parents’ guide. Haffner writes from the unique perspective of both ordained clergy and a longtime sexuality educator. Because of this, Haffner’s book is an excellent “best practices” guide for parents on how to teach values to your child while raising them to be healthy, responsible individuals. (It’s also worth checking out her other books on talking to your kids about sex and growing up.)

If you’ve made it this far and are still squeamish about the thought of discussing sexuality with your children, Deborah Roffman’s Talk To Me First: Everything You Need To Know To Become Your Kids’ “Go-To Person About Sex is the book you need. She tells it like it is to 21st century parents – yes, kids ARE “learning” about these things earlier than ever before, and it’s up to parents to get to the conversation before their kids’ peers do. Moreover, she makes her case in a way that gives parents the tools they need to discuss sexuality with their children.

For those already comfortable with the thought of discussing sexuality with their kids, Mary Gossart’s There’s No Place Like Home…For Sex Education covers similar information and talking points as the previous two books, but in a quick-read format. Like Haffner’s book, each chapter addresses a different age range, so it’s easy to jump around and read just the chapter(s) most relevant to your offspring’s current age(s). But whereas the previous two books require a more sustained attention span, this short book’s quick-read format makes it easy to zip through relevant sections while waiting in school pickup lines.

10. Know where to go for more information

The wealth of information – and misinformation – available on the Internet is a blessing and a curse for kids and parents alike. Knowing where to go – and being able to steer your kids toward trusted resources geared toward them – will put you many steps ahead:

Resources for parents:

Advocates for Youth Rights, Respect, Responsibility Curriculum for K-12 – a searchable database of downloadable lesson plans on a wide range of topics pertaining to sexuality and health.

Answer’s Parent Resources Page – links to books, websites, and other resources for parents to help them discuss sexuality with their kids, from Rutgers University’s Answer center (formerly the New Jersey Network for Family Life Education).

Power to Decide #TalkingIsPower Resources for Parents – tools and resources for talking to your kids about sexuality.

Resources for youth:

Scarleteen – a reliable and comprehensive resource, written for teens by teens (and rigorously fact-checked by knowledgeable adults) – the original go-to source of reliable sexuality information online for teens and young adults.

Sex, Etc. – a blog with articles by teens, for teens, published under the oversight of Answer at Rutgers University (see above).

Resources for both parents and their youth:

Go Ask Alice – established in 1993 for Columbia University students only, this online Q&A forum for all health-related topics (including, but not only, questions about reproductive health). Here you can search their entire online repository of previously asked and answered questions, as well as submit new questions for answer. Older Q&As are regularly revisited, and updated as needed, to keep pace with the latest medically accurate information.

Sex&U.CA – Easy-to-navigate informational website, well-organized by topic, from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.

Gender Spectrum’s Resources page – with links for parents, youth, and educators who want more information about gender-nonconformity.

It’s OK if you’re not comfortable talking about sexuality with your kids. But if you want them to grow up happy, healthy, safe, and making responsible choices, it’s important to become your children’s first and most important teacher.

The sooner you begin the conversation, the more input you’ll have into what they ultimately learn about this important topic, and the values they ultimately adopt for themselves.

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Having the birds and the bees talk with your child is so last-century. Forget The Talk; there's a better way to discuss sex with your kids.      

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How (Not) To Have The Talk With Your Child

53 thoughts on “How (Not) To Have The Talk With Your Child”

  1. With each new generation, the approach to having the birds and the bees conversation changed a lot and, thankfully, for the better. With the amount of access to info on the internet, kids know a lot more than they let on and many start asking their parents questions much earlier than previous generations. My kids went to school in a district where we, the parents, were huge advocates of sex education. It was very beneficial for all of us and our kids. How people go about it varies but open, fluid communication is definitely key. 🙂

  2. I definitely think the idea of it being one talk and your done is outdated. There needs to be many discussions, being open to their questions and it can be just in everyday activities rather than sitting down for this one specific discussion.

  3. WOW! How long did this post take you to write? It’s is PACKED with incredible info! We have the same philosophy. My older boys love reading the all about my body books to their toddler brother. I just took my three year old to his well check and the doctor said, “now we’re going to look at your pee pee.” My son looked at him like he had three heads. I told the doc, “we call it his penis”. His response, “Well, okay then”. LOL! It needs to be a natural conversation and not all weird. Or like with what my parents did…NOTHING! I had to ask friends!

    1. Um, yeah, took me several days to write it up – but the content has been in my head for months, literally waiting for when I had the time to get it all down on the screen 🙂 I LOVE that your kiddo already had the correct terminology when at his 3yo checkup! (though a bit disconcerting that the doctor wasn’t using it as well…)

  4. This is something that is a sensitive subject for some, but I am also happy that our school is helping in the preventative “talking” part. My daughter is only 4 (will be 5 next week) and when she was accepted I had to go to Parent Orientation and sign off on the assigned curriculum, especially that latter part of the curriculum that is going to be happening in the next several months about body parts and safety. At first, I had some reservations about this, but after discussing it with the teachers I finally signed off on the curriculum and will also be talking with my daughter about it, once that part starts. It is important, especially for young kids to know the proper names of body parts and to know when it is acceptable to have someone “looking” at your body parts like a parent who is helping keep you clean during bath time, or a Dr making sure that you’re healthy.

    1. YES!!! Especially in this day and age, we cannot just assume that our kids will always be “safe” with other adults – with all the scandals of the past decade about former sexual abuse coming to light, it is SO important that our kids know what is and is NOT ok, so they can better communicate to trusted grownups when something is going on that should NOT be happening!

  5. Thankfully this is not something I personally have to deal with as we chose not to have children. But as I see my friends struggling with their kids and wondering how to talk about it this is a great resource that I’m going to send along!

    1. Oh, thank you, and please do! This is definitely one area where the way many of us were raised just does NOT cut it anymore…

  6. My Irene’s never had the talk with me. They just relied on my very Catholic chill to cover the info. (They didn’t.) This is such an important topic to discuss with your kids and this guide is incredibly thoughtful and helpful.

  7. Growing up, I dont remember ever getting “the talk”. It was more a “just don’t do that” type of conversation. That obviously isn’t really effective. With my own daughter, we have always used correct terms for body parts and I hope that she will feel like she can come to me when she has questions.

    1. It sounds as if you are definitely off to the right start in this area – keep up the good work, Mama!

  8. I love that you said that it’s not a talk, but more of an ongoing conversation. There were so many great tips in here for parents dreading “the talk”.

  9. As a preschool teacher, I don’t use the correct terms of the penis and vagina because it never comes up. However, I do have a question: how would you teach about touching other people’s private areas? There was an incident with another kid from an older class touching other student’s private parts. For me, I know that the kid is curious and needs to know what is right and what is not nice (I get kids touching my boobs all the time because they are curious because I am larger than their moms and most Asians (I am a white female in Japan). I just have to tell the kids that it’s not nice to touch my bobs. The same goes to the private areas. However, the other student’s mom freaked out when she heard another kid touch her kid’s private area. She thinks the other kids as an attacker and a threat (like he is going to be a molester growing up). I told her it isn’t the case, but she still believes that.

    1. This goes with teaching ALL kids to respect OTHER people’s personal space from a very young age! The child who did this no doubt didn’t know any better, BUT I hope that someone addressed this right away with the child – calmly – you can touch your own genitals if you want, in privacy, but you should NOT touch another child’s genitals – that is their personal space.

      1. And another thing – if this is something the kid habitually and repeatedly does to other kids, that COULD be an indication that there is something more going on with this child outside of school (e.g., perhaps he is being molested himself). Depending on what the laws are where you live, this may require further investigation, reporting, and/or discussion with the parent(s) of this child about his behavior.

  10. I’m totally on the same page with you here. It’s important and necessary to have this discussion with your kids and it should be an ongoing and evolving conversation. In Canada, they’ve started teaching the correct terms for all body parts as early as kindergarten and we had quite the uproar from concerned parents that the kids are too young but you’re right- teaching them the right words just like any other body part teaches them its normal not something shameful. It’s can feel awkward but it’s necessary. My parents never had any such convo with us so we really did have to figure things out ourselves and the info wasn’t always correct.

    1. I am so glad that they’ve taken a more direct approach in your part of Canada! (I am now curious to ask my Canadian friend about what they’ve experienced with her 10yo and 6yo daughters’ schooling so far…)

  11. This is so helpful and so important! Reading through the list, I feel like we do a good job based on the age of my boys. We call anatomy by it’s proper name and welcome questions. They are starting to understand privacy and what’s meant to be done in your own room. Definitely going to keep these ideas in mind as they get older.

  12. You made me realize that I am going to have to face this eventually!! Super awakening moment for me, I guess!! Thank God there are still years to get myself ready! God knows if I’ll ever be ready though. Cause my parents never had the talk with me. I grew up in a very conservative environment, but I know this will not be the case for my daughter, so I will have to get myself prepared for this!!

    1. Knowing that you want to do different/better for your kids is the first step! (And it really IS easier, the earlier you start!) I just led the first parents’ class this past Sunday for our grades 4-5 sexuality education & values formation class (while Kimmie was in the next room as one of the kid participants), and a lot of the parents were in the same boat as you – they had been raised in conservative families that did not talk about these things. BUT they knew how much they wished their parents had taught them differently, and didn’t want their kids to grow up with the same baggage of shame and ignorance that they had.

  13. I think the idea of teaching your children how to set boundaries is so important. That is something I have really tried to express to my children. Even as small children, their body is their own and they decide who touches them and how.

    1. YES!!! *This* is why it’s so important to start this education EARLY, as soon as kids are born really. I wonder if we’d have the scandals going on in BSA, the Catholic Church, etc. these days if people had been taught years ago about appropriate boundaries and to stick up for themselves/tell adults, even as little kids…

  14. I love this article. I have a 3 year old daughter, and I constantly make sure she is able to ask me questions without judgment. The birds and the bees talk is just ridiculous. I agree that it has to be an open conversation. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the book recommendations!

    1. If you stop and think about it, it really makes so much more sense. Especially if you think about how people best learn and retain information over time. Goodness knows I have to remind MY kids, at least, of so many other “basic” lessons over and over – breaking this up into smaller chunks that build on each other is the same idea.

  15. These days my daughter has been asking me for a baby sister. She even said ‘mummy I want to have a boyfriend, so i can have a baby sister’. I was so shocked. Like where does she get these ideas from? This is a great post. Even I wasn’t thinking about having that Talk.

    1. Wow, she picked that up somewhere??? (At what age???) Yeah, they learn ALL SORTS OF STUFF way earlier than ever before, often not accurately (how many people over time have thought you can get pregnant just from kissing a boy?). Hence why it’s so important to start small and break it down into LOTS of teachable moments! 🙂

  16. I think you have some excellent points and suggestions here. We look at it as more of an ongoing thing, and I always let my kids be in the drivers seat. I’m super careful to pay attention to their cues and I ask them if they want to know more or if they want to wait. They usually say they want to wait and I ask them to promise to not be embarrassed to ask me more questions when they are ready to learn more.

    1. This is a great approach! – to ask them if this is enough info for now, or if they want more info at this time vs at a later date. Good thought!

  17. Great points. Much of this I’ve been doing with my son. I think it’s important that parents speak to their kids about sex and sexuality from a young age, with ongoing conversations. Especially since sex education is being taught in schools as early as junior kindergarten in some countries. I would rather be the one guiding my child than a teacher, as our values would be front and centre in the conversation.

    1. Junior K? Aiyiyi! (and to think I graduated from high school in the ’90s having had ZERO sex ed in our public schools – which is why my mama made a point of starting a class at our church, which is how I got such an unusually thorough education at the time…) For anyone who reads this comment, I am all for kids starting to learn about human sexuality as young as pre-K. *BUT* I think that this area (like reading and math, both of which my kids already had a head start on by the time they got to preschool) should start at home 🙂 …

  18. These are all such great points. It is important to be able to start discussing these topics before kids hear things from other kids or on the internet. They do a puberty lesson at school in 5th grade because a lot of parents aren’t telling kids the things they should know.

    1. 5th grade is better than never, BUT you’re right – it’s unfortunate that this is the first many kids are *officially* learning about this important subject, since it’s certainly not their first exposure (often mis-)”learning” about the larger topic of human sexuality…

  19. This is a great and informative article. I really like how you suggest that this is an ongoing conversation. I found the part about how to talk about your family’s values while not ignoring the fact that other people have different values. This is one thing I’ve found pretty challenging as a parent.

    1. I totally admit, I was stuck on how best to handle this one until several years ago, when a friend of mine whose job is sexuality education came to our church at my request. She did a session for parents along the lines of this blog post. She is the one I learned this formula from, and it has been SO helpful ever since then!

    1. You are so welcome, Tanya! Even though I already had a decade-plus of training and actual teaching under my belt when I became a parent, it was still hard for me to wrap my brain (at first) around talking to my OWN kids about these important topics! This post has been too long in the making, but I can’t wait to pass it on to all my parent-friends for whom I’ve been promising to write it all these years! 🙂

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