Let's Talk About Sex, Baby
And by baby, I mean your ACTUAL baby. Yes, folks. Here are five tips for talking about the birds and the bees with your children and teens.
Make it an ongoing conversation - not a single hours-long lecture. Brief, frequent teaching should be the name of your game. Teach young children the correct names for their body parts, encourage them to wash their private parts themselves in the bath, kindly correct them if they talk about private parts inappropriately in social situations. For older children and adolescents, discuss new situations as they arise; for example, how to behave toward their first crush, how to handle it if they are interested in kissing someone, and how to communicate their needs and comfort level.
Start with consent. Consent is a respectful act in any situation that may affect others, but especially so when involving personal physical boundaries. This should initially be taught when children are very young (by not forcing them to hug or kiss anyone they don't want to), and should be constantly reinforced throughout childhood and adolescence. If you suspect your child may have a crush or be in a romantic relationship, make sure to clearly articulate to them the meaning of consent and its contingencies.
Stay on top of what is being taught when at school in regards to sex education. Believe you me, no matter how highly regarded your child's sex ed class is, there will be gaps. Try to figure out what those gaps are and plan to discuss them with your child. If you don't, and they are curious, they will find their answers online. Usually in the form of pornography. Creating a family environment where talking about sex is normal, not shamed, and openly discussed is crucial.
Don't delay talking about it until puberty. If you don't talk to your kiddos about the birds and the bees until they're in their "tweens," trust me when I say they already know. Friends, older siblings, older siblings of friends, the internet, and "cool" aunts/uncles/cousins are just some of their sources of information. It's better to get out ahead of these lackluster sources of information and control what and how your child learns about it.
Teach your children to discuss sex respectfully. Bragging about sexual encounters, particularly among young boys, is very common and also very disrespectful. Teach your children not to kiss-and-tell, or at least if they do want to share it, obtain consent from their partner first. Nip that "locker room" talk in the bud before it happens. Better yet - teach your kiddos to speak up to their peers who try to behave or speak this way.
BONUS TIP FOR ANY KIDS OR TEENS READING FROM YOUR FUTURE SELF:
Don't. Send. Nudes. Like ever. It's against the law if you're underage, and it can spiral out of control so quickly with social media and networking apps these days. Be smart!!