I watch Lifetime movies. Yes, I help people get their lives back on the “straight and narrow” and be healthier with themselves, their emotions, and their relationships, but I still like to indulge Lifetime movies. That feels good to write!
The Pregnancy Pact is about girls who become pregnant. The issue makes the news, and a reporter tries to not just get the story but to also increase awareness about teen pregnancy. I recommend checking out Lifetime for the rest of the story.
The issue that I want to present today is parents’ responsibility to speak with their children about safe sex—abstinence, using condoms (if they do decide to have sex), and sexual health—and not just leave it to the schools.
It can be a scary thing to talk to your children about sex, but the reality is that they are going to ask because they are curious about their bodies and what they see on television. They don’t want to know that they shouldn’t have sex; they want to know why they should not have sex at a particular age. As a parent, it is part of your job to teach your kids about sexual health. I believe you get the picture.
There is a lot to think about, and no parent is ever truly “ready” to talk with a child about the “birds and the bees,” but again, it’s a necessity—and your child may, in fact, ask you. Of course, they will go to their friends, but they’ll come away with a lot of misinformation. You will give them the facts and help them make a healthy, well-informed decision. Yes, the child may still go out and have sex, but when he or she is informed with the pros/cons, the facts, etc., he or she can make a wiser choice.
When to Start
It’s best to start at a young age. My son will be 2 years old next month. At bath time, I show him how to clean himself, and he does a pretty good job. The other day, we had a conversation about him and Daddy having a penis, but not Mommy. That was it. I also said that only Mommy, Daddy, and a doctor would be able to see it, if needed. In the bath, we talk briefly about making sure our bodies are clean head to toe, and that’s one way to take care of our bodies.
If your child is older, it might be good to ask what he or she knows about taking care of his or her body. This is part of sexual health, self-respect, and beginning to set healthy boundaries. Our bodies are important, and we need to keep them as healthy as possible.
What to Share
If the child is older, ask what he or she knows first, or what kids are talking about at school. Ask if peers are talking about who’s having sex, if there’s pressure, etc. This will help in pointing you in the best direction to help your child. Of course, if your child is in a sex-education class, and you have waited that long, use it to open up the discussion.
Be calm. Listen to what your child is saying. Observe how he/she is responding to your questions, the looks on his or her face. You need to know what he or she knows and what you will need to correct it, if the information is wrong. Try to limit your responses so that your child does not give you the glazed look on his or her face when you have said way too much or he or she is not interested anymore.
Share Your Beliefs
I grew up in church and was raised to not have sex before marriage. I grew up knowing what the Bible says about premarital sex, what my parents expected of me, and these things helped me develop my beliefs and standards about who I give my body to (or not). It also taught me to keep my kisses for people who are going to respect me and not just what I can give them.
That is definitely an important aspect of sexual health: teaching your child that his or her virginity is important, and whom they choose to have sex with may either take it or nurture it. Kids need to know that when they have sex, they need to make sure that the person receiving their virginity will protect it, respect it, and not take advantage of it.
I am not trying to stand on a soap box or anything like that, but the reality is that kids are having sex—a lot more than statistics will probably show, and sex is not to be used for random wants. Oral sex is often not perceived as “sex,” but it still involves the giving of oneself. There are feelings involved, even with a one-night stand. Whether you go to church or not, you have your own morality about sex, and all parents want their children to make healthier decisions than they did.
How Each Parent Can Help
- Dads: You can help demonstrate to your sons and daughters about how a girl/woman should be treated. You can share how you would like your daughter to be treated by how you treat your wife. Again, not on a soap box, but our children learn from us—verbal communication and nonverbal. You can share with your daughter the lines that boys may say to get into her pants: “If you love me …” “I love you.” “We can go slow.” And so on. You can also help your daughter to be confident in herself; treat her with respect. Tell her how much she means to you, and what type of guy you would like her to find. You can also help your boys to show respect to women—more than just opening doors for them, but demonstrating respect in speaking to them, etc. You are as valuable as your spouse, and you can give insight regarding men because you are one!
- Moms: You can help demonstrate to your sons and daughters how to treat a man. You can share with your sons what girls are like, how they can be, what type of girl they should be with, how to help with communication, how self-respect is important, and how to set healthy personal boundaries.
There are many more points that can be discussed on this particular topic. I wanted to highlight that it is the parents’ job to help teach children about sexual health, potential diseases, and all that encompasses choosing to have sex. Sex-education classes alone may not be enough.
As a parent, you are very important in your child’s life, even if he or she is not going to admit that. Keep the discussion about sex open with your child. Keep listening. Give the facts. Be there.
© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California
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