The Talk: An Open Letter to Parents
Dear Moms and Dads,
I know it isn’t easy talking about sex. Trust me!
Don’t expect a lot of questions from your child. Don’t expect them to be an open book. Eye rolling and aloofness doesn’t mean they can’t hear what you are saying. Talking about changing bodies or sex with a parent isn’t exactly a treat. You remember, don’t you?
If changing bodies, periods, erections, hair, and cramps frighten you, there are lots of sources and support. Planned Parenthood offers a lot of helpful facts. There are also books that can supplement your teachings. Try Amazon!
The sex talk should be something you do sooner than later. My youngest Pregnancy Medicaid client was 10 years old. Yes, I said 10 and pregnant. Freaked out? I was floored.
A lot of schools rely on abstinence only programs and STIs in Health. While there’s nothing wrong with teaching abstinence, we must prepare kids by teaching about sex.
Do you remember some of the crazy advice you got from friends about sex? Douche afterwards so you can’t get pregnant? Hop up and down? The same advice is still there and still wrong. Your child deserves better than silly wives tales.
Relax. I know that’s easier said than done. No one will judge you if you have a bit of wine before the sex talk.
Choose your time and location carefully. A casual space with no teen distractions. Try your room, maybe.
Start easy. Start on pregnancy prevention. Give your child a box of condoms. Demonstrate proper condom usage. Use a banana. Kids don’t respond well to naked parents.
Get educated about ALL forms of birth control; non-hormonal and hormonal. Children need to know their options.
Parents, be prepared to answer some tough questions, like when YOU lost your virginity.
Talk to your child about condom breaks or slipping and tell them how you want them to handle that. Plan B is a great thing, but it’s expensive. Plan for this because you will be tested. Will you buy it? Does your child need to reimburse you? Having a plan in place means everyone knows what to expect.
Make sure to be non-judgemental if a young lady wants to see a gynecologist. Instead of crying about her having sex, change your thinking to ‘she’s responsible’.
Hell, be non-judgemental, period. Pardon the pun! Let them know you support them and you love them, no matter what they choose.
Talk about your expectations. If you want your child to remain ‘pure’, say so but understand that may not happen. If you don’t want your child having sex in your home, say so.
Explain that oral and anal sex is still sex and needs to be done safely. Dental dams and flavored condoms can help make oral sex safer. Anal sex is safer with condoms, lube, and patience.
Talk about STIs. Yeah, it’s gross but it must be done.
Wanna go the extra mile, like me? Tell your child it’s natural and harmless to explore their bodies. And, it’s okay to communicate their likes to their partner.
Talk about love, lust and the difference between the two. A partner pushing you is not a good reason to cash in your V-card.
Talk about double standards, reputations, and peers. Define sexual assault for your child. Ignorance of what makes consensual sex is no excuse!
Tell your child about the flood of feelings they’ll likely have after the first time.
Assure your child that you love him/her unconditionally.
Few kids make it out of high school as virgins. That’s just common sense. If you haven’t yet, give your child pocket money that is theirs to spend as they wish.
In my house, I have 2 pregnancy tests and a box of condoms at all times. Pregnancy tests must be replaced by the user. Condoms are replaced by me. After last week, I will also be buying Plan B which the user will replace.
Dental dams, lube, and flavored condoms must be purchased by the user. I just don’t want to know about that. TMI, anyone?
I am, by no means, a sexologist. But, I have three great kids, two daughters and a son between the ages of 14 to 21, and two are sexually active. I think the key to the sex talk is to keep talking. They do hear you, I promise.
Also, remember the sex talk evolves over time. My 21-year-old and I talk about more intimate sex details than my 14-year-old and I talk about. My 18-year-old and I started talking about rape and consent a year or more ago because of college.
Please, keep talking. Remember how long it took to potty train your child and the repetition. Honestly, you need to put in that much energy for sex talks. Ask questions and be ready to hear an honest answer, sometimes.
Just like healthy eating habits, healthy sex habits have to be taught.
Author: Tanya Spinnato
Tanya is the founder of seriousmoonlightwithtanya, a blog about sex, love and relationship.