Let's Talk Raising Healthy Kids

It’s Never Too Early to Have the Talk

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

As a parent, having ‘The Talk’ is probably one of the most difficult and challenging moments of parenthood. It can be difficult to believe that your kids even understand what you’re talking about and worse knowing how to begin. But parents shouldn’t feel like talking to their kids about sex in any way makes it seem like they are condoning it. Having “the talk” can empower your kids to say no and set and respect boundaries.

This is the age of the “Connected” generation. They are wired in, have access to more information than you could possibly imagine, and have probably been exposed to more sexuality than you want to believe. Because sex is pervasive in advertising, television programming, and magazines, even if you try to limit their exposure, your kids rely on you to help them sort through everything and see it through the lens of your boundaries and beliefs.

Talking about sex doesn’t lead to having it…and teaching your kids about safe sex doesn’t mean you condone it.

But let’s get real. The fact is, more than 10,000 kids under the age of 22 are diagnosed with HIV, and the majority of those cases are due to unprotected sex. The United States has the highest rates of HIV and teen pregnancy of any industrialized country.

You don’t have to condone sex to talk about how to be safe. And when you’re talking about how to be safe, you can also talk about things like date rape, the importance of having boundaries – and respecting others’ boundaries, the faith-based or morality-based beliefs of your family, and the emotional impact of having sex before you’re ready.

Teens and Tweens

Sex Talk for Breakfast

Talking about sex is not how I envision starting my morning. Well, talking about sex with my 10-year old son is not how I envision the start of the day, anyway. And yet…

It was an idyllic morning. The coffee was particularly strong and delicious, the sleep the night before had been adequately restful. I was sitting at the dining room table and my darling husband Dave was going to the trouble of making me a yummy cheese omelet for breakfast.

Parker, our 10-year old son, came into the dining room and said good morning, giving us both big hugs and actually smiling. It couldn’t have been a more Leave-It-To-Beaver moment.

He sat down at the table across from me and said, “Mommy, what’s an orgasm?”

[Insert sounds of idyllic morning screeching to a halt here!]

This was not just a how do you make babies question. This was a, “How do I tiptoe around this” question if ever there was one. I looked across the dining room and into the kitchen to Dave for help, only to discover he was trying seriously not to laugh while focusing diligently on beating eggs.

“Well, Parker…” I start hesitantly, wondering first, why he wants to know this and second, how I failed as a parent so badly that at 10 he cares already.

“It has to do with sex,” I begin.

“I know all about sex, Mom. I just don’t know what the word orgasm means,” replies Parker, totally confident in his knowledge.

Well now I am just wondering how much he knows, who told him, and where I can go to get the gag order.

I settle on what I hope is an acceptable answer that will not scar him too badly. “It’s the part of sex that makes people want to do it. It means that it feels good.”

I cram in before I lose his attention, “But sex isn’t something you should be thinking about until you are much older and in love and emotionally capable of – ”

“Mom! It’s ok. I’m not doing THAT. I just heard the word, that’s all,” Parker says as he tries to keep me from going Brady Bunch on him and turning a simple question into a moment.

Moment over. Parker heads on his merry way, singing and drumming as he goes. With hand trembling, I take a sip of my coffee. Dave comes over with the omelet and a look of amusement I’m tempted to wipe off his face with my freshly buttered piece of toast.

Ten years old!! My baby boy is 10 years old and wants to know about stuff like that!

But – he asked me. He talked to me. He was comfortable bringing home what he was hearing at school and finding out what he needed to know. And no matter how uncomfortable it makes me, I’ll keep answering his questions and keep fostering that open communication and keep letting him know that home is where you come when you need to know what it’s all about.

For now, though, I’m just relieved to have survived the discussion, even though I know it won’t be the last.

Oh – and no 10 year olds were harmed in the creation of this blog post. I got Parker’s permission to share the incident. If you’re having trouble talking to your kids about sex, think about this: if you don’t, you might be a grandparent earlier than you expected!