Talking to your children about sex

The other day I conducted a seminar regarding teen-age sex. The first questions I asked the attendees were: “How difficult is it talking to your children about sex?” and “What do you think the average age to first have sex is?” As many of you can imagine, most found it very difficult to talk about sex with their kids. The answer to the second question is sixteen – but a third of teenagers do not wait that long, and have sex before that.

The majority of teenagers do not consider it wrong to have sex. They feel that sex is a normal part of their life and that they have the right to have it if they choose to. This is in contrast to the opinion of many parents, who believe deeply that teenage sex is just simply wrong. But teenagers have sex anyway, and many have no problems in their lives because of it. In addition, it could be a a thoroughly positive experience – an idea that parents have a hard time coming to terms with.

The hard truth is that parents can’t really control their childrens’ sexual behavior – they can however, discuss matters of sex with them, preferably before their children become adolescents. Although children may not be interested in such discussions prior to adolescence, the parents should hold them nonetheless: the fewer surprises in store for children in adolescence, the better. Also, once adolescence strikes, teenagers want to hear lots about sex but not from their parents; rather, from their friends. Unfortunately, that could be like the blind leading the blind.

The parents’ main role in relation to sex is education. They can start with information regarding the changes that will take place in their bodies, and continue with matters like reproduction, but also about the sex act itself and that it can be pleasurable and not just functional. Then they can progress to discussing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and taking precautions during sex that prevent pregnancy and getting or transmitting an STD.

We have to educate our kids that sex with somebody is a very intimate experience and that sex carries with it great emotional power. With teenagers, sex, in and of itself, can cause them to fall in love which may lead them to heartbreak which they may or may not be emotionally equipped to handle. Should a teenagers’ sexual relationships go awry, they would be able to cope better if they were able to discuss such things truthfully with their parents, in order to get the emotional support and guidance they’ll need following such an emotionally turbulent experience.