How do I talk to our children about sex?

Of course the answer to that depends on your child’s age. At any age, however, a good rule of thumb is to present information factually, but with only as much detail as they request. Follow-up the facts with a discussion of your values where relevant to the question asked. Keep it simple. Just answer the question, and don’t provide a lengthy dissertation. Remember to always close the discussion by asking if they have any more questions, and give them plenty of time to think about it before you move on.

For my boys, aged 6 & 10, I purchased an age-appropriate book that explained how their bodies would change as they got older and then proceeded to girls and then finally to the biology of sex. They professed not to be interested, but they listened carefully when I read a chapter each night and asked good questions. The younger one in particular was very interested in how his body would change when he got to be his brother’s age. The older one skipped ahead to the chapter on girls on his own.

The book gave me a good opportunity to present bite size information in simple English and allowed me to impart our values at the same time. Also, since the book was logically ordered, I could time the chapters according to the boy’s age and interest levels. Of course, I read the book myself BEFORE sharing it with the boys.

For teens, it’s a more difficult because teens are often mortified to discuss sex with a parent. That’s why you should start their education EARLY—once they are teens it may be impossible to talk to them.

I provided my teens with a copy of ”Our Bodies, Our Selves” by the Boston Women's Health Book Collective. Again, I pre-read the book, but this time I made extensive notes in the margins and highlighted what I thought was important text. They never showed ANY interest in front of me, but I later found out that they HAD used it extensively and had even shared it with friends!

That’s just my opinion. Annie