While watching Wonder Woman as a family the other day, we came to the part when Diana and Steve Trevor go up to her room after dancing. I heard my ten-year old son say under his breath, “Well, they’re making babies!”. I chose to take a mental note and bring it up to my husband later. After talking about it we agreed that it was probably time to have a serious conversation about his statement.
As a nurse and a mom, I have been preparing for the “birds and bees” talk for what feels like, well, at least 10 years. I personally feel it is crucial to prepare our children ahead of time for the inevitable situation they will find themselves in – hopefully in the very distant future.
It’s uncomfortable- especially if you are someone who is not at ease when discussing anatomy and sex.
Being anatomically appropriate and correct should start from an early age. As a medical professional, I have heard people call their privates all kinds of strange names from “punani” to “dingus”, just to name a few. It is what it is, no shame in using the right terminology. If you are guilty of nicknaming your genitals, use this time to correct yourself.
Getting to the point can be difficult.
Because of the nature of this conversation, it can be easy to “dance” around the subject. I suggest you get a general idea of what they already know or heard from friends (yes, they are already talking about it!). Now is a good time to dispel myths and clear things up.
Don’t forget to talk about “grey area” sex.
By “grey area” I mean oral, touching, and anything else that is sexual in nature. Just because the word sex is not involved, does not mean that you get to skip this part of the conversation.
Consent is a key part of “the talk”.
Kids should be learning about consent long before this. For example, we teach them they cannot take toys from others without asking for permission. Same concept here. No means no.
Don’t assume that your precious Johnny or Suzie will never be in this situation. In fact, you should assume that they will be!
Include sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) in your talk.
The nurse in me would be remiss if I did not mention STI’s. Did you know that half of all new STI’s are acquired by people ages 15-24? STI’s can be transferred many ways, not just sex and some of them can even lead to infertility. Use this time to educate your child.
Just because you tell your kid not to have sex, it does not mean they will not do it… Shocking, I know! I realize the topic is touchy, but I would hate it if my kids did not have all the facts. Also, condoms prevent some STI’s.
This is not a “one and done” conversation.
This is a complex subject that, in my opinion, requires follow-up. The first time your child hears all this they may be sitting at the edge of the chair, coming out of their skin from embarrassment. To ensure that what you have discussed actually sticks, you will need to continue the conversation.
You do not need to talk about all of the things I mentioned at once. I have saved the “grey area”, STI’s, and protection part for another time, when he is older. I know that I cannot be there every time he has to make a choice, so I take solace in knowing I have armed him with the facts to make a good one.