Social Question

njnyjobs's avatar

When should parents start talking about sex with their kids?

Asked by njnyjobs (7582points) March 25th, 2010

These days, kids are more and more getting casually introduced to sex at a younger age through music, videos accessible on their computers and smartphones, sexting with their friends and what have you.

Are you as a parent prepared to discuss this matter with your teen/pre-teen?

What’s your resource to address this issue?

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26 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I think that parents should answer questions (with brief, age-appropriate answers) starting at a very young age.

I think that the sex conversation should occur when body changes begin at the onset of puberty.

Snarp's avatar

You should start talking about it long before they are teenagers. The goal is to have an open dialog with your kids in which you answer their questions about sex honestly and simply in an age appropriate way from the very beginning. If you don’t make it difficult and awkward, then it won’t be to them. Then there is no one big sex talk, there’s an ongoing conversation in which they know their questions will be answered and that it’s OK to ask them.

We’ll see as time goes on how that works out for me in practice.

njnyjobs's avatar

…but what if they don’t ask because they think it’s not cool to ask the parents? ...they may think its embarassing to initiate talking about it with grown people.

Snarp's avatar

My sex talk when I was a kid happened when I was about 15 and consisted of: “Son, wear a condom when you have sex. I’ll buy them for you if you’re too embarrassed.” Yeah, thanks dad, because asking you to buy them is way less embarrassing than going to the store where I don’t know anyone and buying them.

Pandora's avatar

I told my children when they were teens they were free to ask me anything. However both had health & sex aide classes and already knew all about it. The questions I was later asked was more about relationship issues than sexual.

OpryLeigh's avatar

My mum gave me the “watered down” talk about sex when I was 5 years old. I think that kids should have some sort of idea from their parents before they start sex education at school.

zophu's avatar

I’m only 21 and have no experience with kids, but I would teach the basic social rules first. “Don’t do this in public. If someone does this, tell me or mom.” etc.. I’d teach the biology of animals as soon as the child could comprehend, eventually moving on to human reproduction. Get the very basics down, make them intuitive. Then, the later, more complicated social aspects of sex should be easier to teach. Kids who learn what sex is from good teachers as early as possible are much less likely to form an unhealthy relationship with the concept later on. I had to peace shit together like a detective as a kid, it sucked.

Edit: Also, this shit isn’t supposed to be taught in a single “Talk”. It’s depressing that that’s even a term. Do you really think that if you aren’t talking to your kid about sex regularly, their ignorant friends aren’t?

MissAusten's avatar

If you wait until your kid is a preteen, you’ve waited too long.

Age-appropriate honesty about sex should be a constant part of parenting. It starts when your child is very young and focuses on teaching children that they are in charge of their own bodies and have a say in who is allowed to hug and kiss them. It starts when you teach your young child that parts of their bodies are considered private and they have a right to insist that others respect their privacy. It means modeling a healthy adult relationship based on mutual respect and love, not associating sexual feelings or questions with shame or embarrassment, and instilling enough trust in your children to let them come to you with any question about their bodies.

By the preteen years, a child should know how babies are made, how to respond to inappropriate attention from both adults and peers, what to expect from puberty, and who they can comfortably talk to about all of these things. Because they are still children, however, parents have a responsibility to stay involved in the child’s life and limit exposure to TV and internet. Talk about what you do see on TV or online, and give kids the tools to make good decisions. They won’t always make good decisions, of course, but ideally a parent will help the child learn from mistakes.

By upper middle school (if not sooner), children should know how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STD. Parents can’t trust schools to impart this information, but should do it themselves.

I have an 11 year old daughter, and believe me, it’s not easy to look into your own kid’s big blue eyes and use words like “semen” or “erection” or “AIDS.” It’s particularly difficult when your own parents didn’t talk about things like that and you have no basis for comparison. It is extremely important, however, and so I make a big effort to respond honestly to her questions in a casual and non-judgmental way. It actually gets easier as time goes on. Last night we had a conversation about pubic hair and I didn’t even blush.

wonderingwhy's avatar

Well by 4th or 5th grade they’ve already started learning it in school (and they often know it earlier). I’ve never understood why it’s such a tough issue to broach. IMO it’s lumped in with basic life advice/lessons, you give to them as you feel they can understand and remind them as they get older.

Idknown's avatar

I used to be a teacher’s assistant. I had the most wonderful 5th graders. When they came back as 6th graders – they made me sick…

“Joe [my name], Johnny wants to sex me.” I would think – he wants to what?

They do learn early… so you guys [parents] better start early…

YoH's avatar

When my children were 3 and 5, I introduced a book on how babies were made. It was well written with children in mind,and it used chickens and human pictures as examples. My children accepted the subject as a natural part of life.That was a great starting point of all that was to come through out their childhood. They found it easy to ask questions about sex and I found it manageable to answer.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

In the morning, because telling them about it late in the evening gets them all stirred up—and can give nightmares to some.

ragingloli's avatar

You might want to rephrase that question. It is a bit, uh, ambiguous.

mattbrowne's avatar

12, 13, 14 depending on the individual maturity. One way of doing it is giving them a book first. Some kids prefer to read about it on their own first and then talk with their parents. Some also feel more comfortable at school (sex education as part of the biology curriculum).

JLeslie's avatar

I think most children ask where babies come from very young, maybe ages 4–6 and that is a chance to explain the basics, very brief, just specific to their question. Set the tone that they can ask you anything, and you will answer.

Hopefully around 4th or 5th grade they have a class at school that describes puberty, and some of the things to expect. Not that I don;t think parents can do it, but a matter fact class about the body, anatamoy and physiology is a very good thing I think. If you have set the tone correctly, they will ask you about any questions they have.

A conversation about sex and relationships with some advice I would probably try to start around age 12–13 with my child, depending on his/her maturity. Mostly I would emphasize that they should never feel pressured by others to do anything they don’t want to, Some of my own values realted to sex, and maybe talk about health concerns and protection, to be sure they are as safe as possible.

Silence04's avatar

As soon as they ask, “where do babies come from?”

njnyjobs's avatar

@ragingloli sorry, but I will not re-phrase?...I don’t think it’s ambiguous, and neither do the respondents… they have answered the question sensibly.

JLeslie's avatar

@njnyjobs He might be referring to whether you wanted to know about the conversation about where do babies come from, sex before marriage, the emotional and morality around the topic. I just kind of answered all of it. Sex can be interpreted a few ways I think.

njnyjobs's avatar

@JLeslie i have no reference to what you have enumerated. Any sensible parent would know what I am asking about, the down and dirty deed that kids need to refrain from doing. I don’t think @ragingloli is a parent so IMO not qualified to answer the question

thriftymaid's avatar

when they ask questions

JLeslie's avatar

@njnyjobs But, just that you add “kids need to refrian from doing” and your original question talking about sexting and computers, indicates to me that you are not just talking about how babies are made, which is typically very young. Some people answered regarding the first time a parent might talk about sex, the basic explanation of the physical act only.

faye's avatar

@Silence04 has my answer and use penis instead of cutesy names.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Our oldest is 3 and a half – we discuss body parts and all that and why he gets random erections but we didn’t talk about sex yet.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

You could do it while you’re playing “head – shoulders – knees – toes,” when the kid asks, “Yeah, but what the hell is that?”

Boombip's avatar

Like 6–10, that’s what my parents did. Just do it very scientificly and emthisize the love and caring part of it. Then when their 12–14 talk to them about condoms and stds if they havnt learned it in school already.

JLeslie's avatar

@faye I never understood what the big deal is with using cutesy names, eventually they will learn the real names. Why do you think there is harm knowing or using both?

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