When did your child first start noticing gender differences? I’m not talking about toys or colors, I’m talking about private parts. Before joining Boise State University‘s counseling program, I couldn’t imagine how to start having these conversations with my child. I’m a touch more prepared, although it still makes me nervous, but I know it’s important to talk to your kids about this stuff. 

Don’t panic. 

The first time your kid comes to you naked (probably not new) and points out their specific genitals, it will probably catch you off guard. It did me. The first thing I had to remember was to keep calm. Take a breath – you can do this. No matter how you approach the conversation, just remember that the way you react tells your child whether they should be ashamed of their natural bodies, or whether it’s okay to notice. 

Stay consistent. 

Whatever your message, stick to your script. I knew from the minute I felt her kick that I wouldn’t want any sexual predator to take advantage of her. I chose to tell her exactly what the body parts are called. Then we had the bathing suit conversation. If it’s covered by your swimsuit, it’s a private area only for you to see, and we don’t need to share that -or let anyone else show you theirs. 

How to have "the talk" with your child.

Encourage conversations. 

Now this comes from my counseling experiences. As your child grows and develops, so should these conversations. I don’t anticipate being able to keep telling my kid “that’s yours, so keep it to yourself. And don’t ask to see anyone else’s business,” because her curiosity will grow. All of ours did. As a parent I’d prefer that she asks me for information before she asks a friend or Google. I’d also prefer that she comes to me with things she hears from others, so that we can discern together if it’s true or not. 

No matter how you tackle it, make sure that you do. The best thing you can give to the next generation is knowledge!