“When do we have The Talk?” This question has plagued parents since, well, the beginning of parenting. There is a simple answer to this question. We must realize that there needs to be many talks, not just one. You wouldn’t try to teach your child how to cook in 15 minutes! This will require time. We want to pass on not only the technical information about sex but our belief systems and values as well. The goal is to have enough conversations about relationships, love, sex and marriage that our kids are able to make responsible choices. We want them to have the information before they leave the house. Therefore the answer is: Now!
Last year I was at a preschool moms’ dinner. Over salad, one of the moms said to me, “You have the oldest children here, when is the best time to give The Talk.” I said “earlier, rather than later.” Everyone looked shocked! I had waited too long with my two older children and now they don’t want to hear it. I have been forced into Guerilla Sex Talk Warfare. I ambush them with info, little tidbits here and there. “That’s gross, we don’t want to hear it,” as they clamp their hands over their ears. That’s just when I tell them that they will be getting armpit hair!
My own discomfort with the subject led me to give my children age appropriate books to read by themselves and then discuss later. Robie Harris has some great books; It’s Not the Stork, A Book about Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends for ages 4 to 8, It’s Perfectly Normal, Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health for ages 7 and up and It’s So Amazing, A book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families for ages 9 and up. For my kids, age seven seemed to be the golden age to start. My seven-year-old read the 4 to 8 year old book, bugged me until I ordered the 7 and up book and I later found him devouring the 9 and up book. This is the same book that I could not get my twelve-year-old to read because he found the simple, hand-drawn illustrations disgusting!
Last November, The Doings had a great story on the Robert Crown Center; where professionals give school children age appropriate Talks. It is an abstinence-based program, which means they won’t give information about contraceptives unless asked by the students. The Don’t Tell Unless Asked policy has been shown by recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control not to be working. Teenage pregnancy is on the rise for the first time since 1991. This is where parents come in. We need to make sure our children have all the information to make good choices. As Joan Fox, a licensed clinical professional counselor, quoted in the article said, “You have 10,000 talks. You don’t have THE talk.”
By my calculations, we would then need to have a talk with our kids once a day for 27 years. If we wait until they are 13, we’d be talking to our kids when they are nearly 40. By that age, I am sure they could give us The Talk!