What to tell your child about sex-“hello -the truth” ..and not all in one go, please

It’s important for your children to hear from you over their lifetime that sex can be fantastic, that it’s a good thing, but unfortunately it can be abused.

Your body language, the approachable you and the example that you are, all combine to empower your child.

 We often teach our children the fear of sex predators, STDs, early pregnancy and stranger danger but not celebrate reproduction, bodies, (differences and similarities), feelings, intimacy and relationships.

Sex is not just about the nuts and bolts, puberty, menstruation,

contraception, safer sex, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, childbirth, hygiene, and general health care, gender identity, anatomy and reproduction. It is so much more…

Keep remembering to tell your child that they are loved and that you are proud of them, even if they do not agree with you or always make the right decisions. Tell them that you will always be there for them no matter what, that they have the right to feel safe all of the time and that there is nothing so awful that it can't be talked through with someone especially you.

Sex involves so much more than just sexual intercourse. It also includes emotional, spiritual, and intellectual dimensions as well as the physical. Research suggests that all of these are required for a healthy, fulfilling relationship. Discuss the importance of responsibility for choices and decisions as sex requires care and consent. Teach them that they can hurt themselves and others. Relate sex to love, intimacy and respectful relationships.

We need to talk to them so that they respect their own bodies, their identity and feelings. Talk about sex being not just about how you look on the outside it’s more about the inside. Clear messages from you about your values, beliefs and expectations are really important when making sexual decisions. They need to know the consequences of sex such as STDs and pregnancy. With this information, our children are better prepared to resist peer pressure and other influences and to ultimately make healthy wise decisions.

This really is a life-long conversation.

So, when your 11 year old child comes up to you and says what is sex?

You can say in one breath…..

Sex is so much more than you may think, it includes, anatomy and reproductive health. It’s not just a penis in a vagina. It’s about our values, attitudes, feelings, interactions and behaviours and it is emotional, social, cultural, spiritual and physical.

Your child will probably NEVER ask you again but hey you’ve done the sex talk in 10 seconds!!! (NOT)

“How are babies made?” It’s good to have a laugh sometimes…

Why? because sometimes talking about sex can happen in funny situations so it’s important to laugh. So here are a few funny stories that I have heard about how parents have told their children about how babies are made and vice versa…. and we can all have a laugh at the same time regardless of how we feel.

 A parent to child conversation about how are babies made?

1. In the shopping queue at the checkout at Kmart..surrounded by many people

Child to parent: How are babies made?

Parent to child: I bought you, at Kmart because you were on special.

2. At a local soccer game where my friend’s six year old son asked a large lady how a baby got into her tummy, (she was not pregnant!). She was gorgeous and responded by saying thank you for the compliment, but it was fat and not a baby! She told the boy to ask his mum and guess what, that’s what he did!

Child to parent: How are babies made? (in car on way home from soccer)

Parent to child: I found you on the soccer pitch! (Oh dear!!)

3. At a restaurant with a friend who is pregnant and once again surrounded by many people.

Child to parent: How did a baby get into your stomach?

Parent to child: You were on the menu.

4. Child to parent: How are babies made?

Parent to IVF child: You were mixed in a glass with sperm from dad and an egg from mum and I swallowed you.

A child’s view about how are babies made?

1. My mum swallowed a watermelon seed and it grew into a baby and then she vommited me out.

2. At a big family gathering where my sister-in-law bought her dog, my 10 year old niece explains to everyone when she sees the dogs humping that the dog’s penis will go into the vagina and that’s how a baby dog is made. Well hello how are you?

3. My friend’s daughter age 5, announced to me that she knew how her mum had given birth to her recent sibling …she said he grew inside my mum’s belly until he just fell out one day and the doctor caught him.

4. At one of my ‘Amazing Me’ programs one of the children came up to me afterwards looking rather shocked. He said that his parents told him that he was very special. One day they were cooking and put two baby making ingredients in a bowl and mixed them around and he was made. He was a gorgeous IVF baby after all.

 What have you told your child? You might be surprised as to how these funny conversations may open up opportunities to talk about lots of other difficult topics. These conversations will ultimately strenghten your relationship with your children no matter how old they are. Let’s face it, ultimately isn’t this what we want?

Girls Girls Girls

 

It’s International Women’s Day 2019 and the UN theme is ‘Think Equal, Build smart, Innovate for Change’ …isn’t that amazing! All genders are equal but in many societies woman are still discriminated against, with sex education not even considered. Many people believe that woman’s education is a key factor to change and ongoing health, success and flourishing.

As a family we have a charity in Northern India and this is definitely the case there. Each year Project Help India holds a woman’s conference which aims to empower and educate woman to have strength value and purpose, value themselves and change their communities. Many woman who we educate have no idea about the whole topic of sex education and if they did !! WOW! Not only would their health change but their families and wider communities would change for the better too.

For starters once they get their periods they would know why, how and what to do. This could help them go to school as many drop out when they get their periods. They would know that menopause is normal and what happens when they go through it. Contraception, hygiene, consent, healthy relationships, body safety and boundary education would certainly change their lives. Education in woman’s health has changed over the years. Historically life was more difficult, woman became wives and mothers a lot earlier, as well as contracting diseases with earlier mortality rates. Many woman in the past were not concerned about old age because they did not reach it.

So, what’s my point….wherever you live, whoever you are, let’s change the world by educating our girls when it comes to sex education!!! The possibilities are endless. Today we honour and celebrate all the amazing woman around the world!

 

 

 

 

How did you find out about puberty and sex? Do you want to be the same or different?

I know it’s March, but it has taken me a bit of time to get into the full swing of 2019.

How did you find out about puberty and sex ….and everything else in between, (because it is far greater than just these two conversations)? Do you want your conversations to be the same in 2019, or will it be like the way you might have found out as a kid?

 My mum and dad never had ‘the talk’ with me. I came home from school one day and there was the book sitting on my bed. I still have that exact copy, ‘Where Did I Come From?’ by Peter Mayle. It used to be one of the only books around in those days and to this day it is still very funny, even though it only talks about babies being conceived in one way.

The book ‘What’s Happening to Me?’ is the follow-up and still I would recommend it even though there are now so many other books around. As a pre-teen I read this book and got the shock of my life!  That was it! done and dusted...no questions asked, and no conversations with mum and dad necessary. Even though my parents were quite progressive (they both worked full time and believed in equality back in the day) it must have been difficult for them to have these conversations, as it is today.

 At the age of 10 I got my periods. Once again I got the shock of my life because I wasn’t ready for this. I felt lonely as I don’t think anyone else had them. I had never talked about it, I was totally embarrassed, and I had no one to talk to. I stole pads out of my mum’s drawer until she found out. I breaks my heart to write this, because it did not need to be this way.

In our fast-paced and ever changing world, I believe we not only have a choice to talk to our kids about this, but a responsibility, regardless of our values and beleifs or how we feel, or what our past experiences may have been. We owe it to our daughters, and our sons too, to give them all knowledge and every opportunity to be prepared for all that lies ahead for them.

So how did you find out about puberty and sex? It can be the same for your kids, or it can be very different. It’s up to you?

 

Door openers and door slammers. Practical tips that open up and continue conversations versus stopping those conversations in their tracks. (It’s not always as hard as you think)

As Christmas and the holidays are fast approaching, as we spend time together, it’s a time that we have opportunities to open or close conversations. I am all for strengthening relationships but how can you respond to a question or start or continue a conversation no matter what it might be about? There are two ways and I call them door openers and door slammers.

Door Openers… I’ve called these ‘open door conversations’. These are ideas that encourage and continue conversations with your children.

That’s a good question! What do you think about that? I want to understand how you feel. Tell me what that means to you. I’m glad you shared that with me. It sounds like what you’re saying is. Tell me more about that. How do you feel? What do you think? It might feel weird telling me but do any of your friends…. Wow! I am proud of you. That's great that you feel that way. Thank you for talking with me about that. You can ask me anything. I don’t know the answer but I will find out. Do you know what e.g. pornography means? I need to have a conversation with you about…e.g.  puberty and I’ll tell you lots of things that happened to me and how I felt.

Then there are the Door Slammers. These are conversation stoppers that discourage your child from talking with you. Sometimes door slammers stop your child from EVER asking you again.

If anyone goes near you I’ll be so angry. You’re too young for that! Where did you hear that?  If you say that word again, I’ll…That’s none of your business! I don’t care what your friends are doing. That’s just for girls/boys. We’ll talk about that when you need to know. That’s disgusting! That’s a weird thing to say. I’m disappointed in you. You look like a prostitute wearing that. Sex is bad. End of conversation! I’m really angry with you for saying that.

So what are your door openers? You may come up with some of your own. It takes practice, but you might be surprised by how much your children want to talk to you after a door opener conversation and how much they don’t when you slam the door of the conversation closed.

So let’s keep opening the doors!

It’s a scary world out there! Why we need to be talking about sex education more than ever!

We teach our children water safety, road safety and sun safety just to name a few but what about body safety around private parts? The statistics for sexual abuse amongst children are alarmingly high all over the world and as we know, the impact of sexual abuse has lifelong harmful effects.  Research suggests that children can become even more vulnerable to repeated abuse in the future if not addressed as early as possible.

 The perpetrators come from all walks of life. Statistically, over 90% are known to the victim. Child sexual abuse occurs when someone uses their power, force or authority to involve a child in sexual activity. Sexual abuse usually starts with grooming and can include sexual comments, flashing or touching, masturbation, oral sex, penetration, taking photographs and showing pornographic images.

 It is so important that we as parents and carers, know how to talk to children about body safety, what to do, what to say and who to tell, so that we keep them safe. This should happen as soon as a child knows how to talk and must continue throughout their lives. We can start to empower our children by teaching them the right names of the genitals and what private means, how to be body safe, unsafe feelings, touch, secrets, who to tell and what to say when they have warning signs that something is not right. Research shows that confident children who know the names of their genitals and who have supportive safety networks are less likely to be abused.

 As a parent the thought that my children might be sexually abused is one of my worst nightmares! So let’s be parents who are always there and available for our children no matter how hard the conversation might be.

Where to talk to your child about sex?

I’m driving along with my son in the car and we are listening to the radio and a song is playing about sex. I might say “Hey do you know what he is singing about” At home we often watch ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘The Bachelorette’ together as a family and I sometimes ask my children things like; ‘Do you think it’s okay to date and kiss more than one woman/man at a time?’, ‘Do you think it’s important to get to know someone well before you marry or commit to them, or to have sex with them?’

Opportunities come up all the time and when you least expect them. I often get asked …Where do you chat with your children about sex? The answer is simple, in everyday life you will find opportunities, especially if you look out for them. Television holds endless opportunities, advertising, various series and movies. Often, it’s in everyday life situations and spending time with your children, like on road-trips or taking your child to school or weekend sports game. Just chatting, listening to music, watching an ad or seeing a billboard or any other form of media. You might read an article from the paper about abuse to an older child or talk about someone you see or know who is pregnant or getting married, or even asking questions about what happens at school (a girl kissed a boy etc).

Many parents think that the sexual content in TV, movies, and magazines, goes over kids’ heads.  Even if kids don’t look like they are paying attention, they pick up a surprising amount of sex education, much of it inappropriate, from the media. And they are exposed to this from a very early age.  When kids are exposed to sexual scenes, humour or information, they need their parents to help them understand what it means.

So let the conversations begin, wherever you are!!

Talk early …talk often. When should you talk to your child about sex.

I love being a parent, but far out, it’s been hard work and still is, even though my children are older and me wiser (ha ha). Each child is different and goes through different stages and needs to know different things at different times, right? So at what age do you tell them about sex? One of my dear friends rang me up and was so excited she had had ‘THE TALK’ with her 8 year-old and proceeded to tell me about what she had said, as if it were over.

Talking and teaching about sexuality is a life-long conversation. There is not a certain age when you say “it’s time”, but it’s important that we have small continuous, truthful, conversations throughout their lives. Otherwise, if we don’t, the media, friends or technology most certainly will, and often this information is devoid of values, beliefs, and expectations. The earlier you start, definitely makes it easier to begin and continue conversations whatever they are - even though they can still be challenging. Remember, sexuality is not just talking about sexual intercourse, so your conversations may start off when a toddler talks about the right names for their genitals. If your child grows up knowing about things from the beginning, then not only will they feel freer and more comfortable when talking to you, and asking you questions, but it will probably make it much easier to continue the dialogue even through adolescence. It’s never too late of course, but sometimes if you have never talked about sex in your family it’s harder to start conversations. One of my daughters up until the age of 11 was really open, and the other one very private up to the age of 17, and my son is a bit of both. Yes, they are all very different, however, my children have always known that they can chat to me without judgement or fear even if I don’t agree with them or don’t know the answers. If I had not started the conversation early, it would have been a whole lot harder.

So, is there a certain time to start? Yes … it’s today!