Alice Park reports on Time.com that parents are talking with their kids too little too late according to a 2009 study in Pediatrics. In fact, approximately 40% will have sex before their parents finally bring up the subject of “the birds and the bees”. It certainly was true in my case.
I can remember being a teenager and one ordinary day my mother taking up the subject of sex. She just kept going on and on about how important it was to stay a virgin until marriage in spite of my protests “I know, Mom” and attempts to change the subject. Eventually I tired of her lecture and finally blurted out, “Mom, just stop. I’m not a virgin.” I still remember the look of shock in her eyes as she muttered, “I’m so disappointed in you” before walking away.
Frankly, I was disappointed in her. Waiting until your kid is 16 before having this conversation is way too long. I remember kids talking about sex on the playground in elementary school, don’t you? Kids aren’t dumb and kids are curious.
I took a different approach with my kids. Beginning in their toddler years I began addressing the subject of body parts using their correct anatomic names — a penis is not a “peepee” or “junk” nor is a vagina “private parts”. Eyes are eyes and noses are noses, why should sexual organs be any different? As their minds developed I added more to their knowledge, always addressing the subject in a matter of fact way and answering all of their questions. If a child is able to comprehend and formulate a question then s/he is mature enough to receive an answer.
I recently had a conversation with my son who is 11. He told me that now that he is in 6th grade he has to have health and sex education. He seemed rather annoyed by the idea and said, “I really don’t know why I have to learn about it in school, you’ve already taught me all about it.” I just listened and smiled.