The Talk, The Birds and The Bees, the “You Know What” conversation or simply, the three-letter word, s-e-x, sex. No matter how you refer to it, it is a challenging, or at best described as an uncomfortable, conversation to have with your child. It is oftentimes dreaded or maybe even avoided, but the discomfort surrounding the topic does not negate its importance. Prior to becoming a mom, I had no clue about how to educate another human being about sex especially my precious children. I believe there is always this underlying fear that the conversation will peak curiosity and turn into something that completely deviates from the original intention.
I am no novice at having difficult conversations, but the stakes seem to be so much higher and riskier when your child or children are sitting on the other side of the table. You want to plan and prepare more than usual. You want to make sure you are using correct terminology. You want to use your “serious voice”. You want to make sure snacks and juice boxes are plentiful just in case it takes longer than you thought. Sounds so stressful, right? But, who said it had to be a stressful experience? Extremely important. Yes, but could it possibly be less stressful?
After becoming a mom and really “learning” my children’s personalities and nuances, the thought of having the conversation became much more palatable. Please don’t misconstrue its “palatable-ness” as ease, but necessity required me to jump in. Interestingly, the conversation surpasses discussions about intercourse only. It must include human anatomy, predatory activity on social media, appropriate electronic engagements, good touch/bad touch, dissecting creative colloquialisms for acts, sexual identity and orientation, and so much more.
The Talk surely cannot take place in one setting. It is one that starts and continues into adulthood, but I believe place and time is important.
I have two children. An almost 3-year-old daughter and an almost 11-year-old boy. My pre-pubescent son has given us a crash course in having the talk. Here are a few of my recommendations:
- Start as early as YOU deem necessary for you and your family. I think it is best to have introductory conversations about anatomy as early as possible to create a sense of self-awareness and empowerment for body ownership and governance. Assign proper names to anatomy. Establish appropriateness.
- Integrate the conversation into normal activities. The last thing you want to do is initiate these talks in a setting much like an interrogation room complete with bright lights, a burning cigarette, and metal chairs. Think about it. Mainstream media is loaded with overt sexual connotations and innuendos even on kid channels. Rather than rushing to change the channel, why not take the opportunity to make it a teachable moment? Again, you decide when this takes place based on your level of comfort. Interestingly, we recently visited a theme park in Florida. An ad came on the radio, and my son inquired about it. My husband and I took the opportunity to educate him in an age appropriate manner. We even found a way to make it comical.
- This is not a one and done type conversation. The goal is empowerment of choice and ownership of physical space. The conversation can’t take place once. It is a perpetual conversation that occurs often and evolves accordingly.
- Don’t give the universe an opportunity to educate your child about sex. Socially, children will inevitably learn from their peers, but the most reliable information comes from you. If you are not an expert, become one. Seriously, for all intents and purposes, we, as moms, do it all. Add this role to the list. There is value in engaging your child about this topic. It secures a safe space for dialogue and consultation.
Cheers to having deeply engaging conversations with your most valuable possessions.
Rolandria Boyce is a wife, mother, dancer, public health advocate, and tired because of the aforementioned. 🙂 Moms rule.
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