By Dr. Karyn Gordon
On a recent show on City Line, I surveyed the audience to find out their experience with having / giving the “TALK” – here are some highlights!
• 79% - Never received the TALK growing up
• 21% - Did receive the TALK growing up
• 12 yrs old - Average age when parents received the TALK growing up
• 10 yrs old - Average age parents today say kids should receive the TALK
Tip #1: Don’t Have ‘The Talk” (Have “Many Talks”)
If you think having the ‘talk’ is scary – just ask your kids. Nobody likes it – so avoid it! The one-time, pressure-focused, anxiety-ridden get it over-with conversation is over-rated. Instead, focus on having smaller, more manageable talks about sex and sexuality as your kids grow up so that they (and you) can get comfortable answering bigger questions. If you are anxious about this topic, they won’t come to you anyway. However if you get comfortable with it – you’ll likely be their #1 person whom they go to with questions, which is exactly what you want!
Tip #2: Let Kids Take the Lead & Use Media
Let your kids guide when and how deep you go in this topic. Our 4 year olds have already starting asking if mommy has a penis? Get comfortable with answering questions about sex and sexuality. One client’s son (age 14) asked his dad ‘Is sex really good?” (because he saw it on a media advertisement). The dad gulped and tried to give his most honest answer. He later told me that it was one of the best conversations he had with his son in years! So get ready to answer some tough questions and use media to help guide the conversation.
Tip #3: Talk About Values
In school they will often learn about sex education, the importance of protection, STD’s and the other “mechanical” aspects of sex. It’s important that they know this information. However in addition, it’s important to talk about the value of sex. What is their value? Do they want to wait till they are: 16 years old; in love; in college; married; dating a person for minimum 3 months? What is their value? Many teens will have some ideas in their head, but talking it out helps to articulate it. It’s important to have your kids think about their value in advance so that they know how they want to respond. Get ready because they will likely ask you about what your value was as a teen and if you have any regrets. Know in advance what you would say and how you would respond. Remember: don’t tell your kids what to think, teach them how to think, especially with this topic.
Tip #4: Develop A Great Relationship With A Health Care Provider
Once you’ve covered more the emotional aspects of sex, make sure they have the right information on the physical side of sex. Many pre-teens / teens believe myths about sex (ex. that you can’t get pregnant the first time). It’s important that your kids develop a relationship with a great health care provider with whom they can build a rapport and who can answer some of those specific questions. Then if they do decide to be sexually active, they have a relationship with someone whom they can go to in addition to you.