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Talk to your child about sex
by Mary Kay Thill

Parents agree the open communication with their kids is essential in good development. How comfortable are you when the topic is sexual? Most of us weren’t taught anything about sex from our parents. We relied on our friends and television. Do you want your kids to learn about sex from someone else? Keeping the lines of communication open is important and the dialogue continues throughout their childhood.

When I ask parents in therapy, “Have you talked to your son or daughter about sex?” They look at me confused replying, “Do you think its time?” or “How do I begin?” “What should I say?” It seems to be so uncomfortable many choose to ignore it. If your feeling awkward discussing it with your child you can relieve this fear by educating yourself, and talking to trusted friends, doctors. Often the sex talk comes from the mom. Choose the parent who is most comfortable and non-judgmental to have this sex talk. I advise parents to talk about sex at every age, giving more details each year. Mentioning your own discomfort in discussing this topic may help ease things along, and keep a sense of humor.

As toddlers, kids ask simple questions and are satisfied with one or two word answers. Conversations with 4-6 years olds may be about where babies come from.

A simple answer is, from mommy’s vagina. They respond, “Ok”, and walk away. No need to go deeper, at this point in time. Conversations with 8-10 years olds may be about bodily changes and menstruation. By the time a child reaches ten years of age, they want more information about sex and their physical development. This is the time a parent has the mechanical conversation with their son or daughter. Each child matures at there own rate; so let them ask what they want to know. Often they ask, “What is sex?”

Start out with the biological differences between boys and girls. Get pictures of both male and female bodies, with private parts highlighted to show and tell. Go into more detail based on the gender of your child. As you show them the human body mention that certain areas have lots of nerve ending and fell good to the touch and that its normal to touch those areas. If you want to raise a child who has a healthy sexuality and feels good about their bodies, they need permission for what is normal and natural. I was told masturbation was a sin and sex was bad. These messages can take years of work to overcome. Boys start feeling their penis at 4 years old. It’s part of being human. You must be comfortable with your own sexuality to present a healthy approach to your children.

Then proceed to tell your child about the specifics of creating a baby. Use your human body pictures, again. You may state that the male places his penis in the female’s vagina and empties his sperm into her and it travels up her tubes to the egg and may create life. They may already know some of the creating life from health class and talks about menstruation. They may seem shocked, but will feel relief as well since the secrecy have been dispelled. Once you have covered, the basics ask them if they have any questions. Tell them to feel free to ask questions any time in the future.

As your child develops, and becomes a teenager deeper talks that are more emotional will occur. You are establishing a baseline value about sex and pleasure, as well as, teaching sex education. Be open to sharing your own values and concerns and listen to theirs. Conversations with teens may be about unwanted pregnancy and birth control. As they begin dating, they need to understand that sexual relationships involve emotions and responsibilities. Levels of intimacy deepen with time unlike what television may lead them to believe. Help them to take it slowly, one step at a time. Help them relate sex to love, intimacy, and caring for one self and ones partner.

Do you want your child influenced by their friends or the media? Our media is over stimulated with sex, and our children are not educated enough to sort through it. 12-year-old boys are bragging about getting oral sex from a classmate in the rest room. Girls are giving boys pleasure, but not getting anything in return. Girls are hoping the boy likes her for this and usually she is viewed as bad afterward. Kids are confused. The Internet is the tool of child sexual predators who rely on their innocence. Unsupervised computer use, leads our youth into explicate chat rooms, online dating and pornographic web sites. Each year about 1 millions teenage girls becomes pregnant in the United States, and over 3 million teens get a sexually transmitted disease.

Studies show that kids who feel free to talk with their parents about sex and sexuality issues tend to avoid high risk sexually behaviors. By developing ongoing and open communications about sex, its responsibilities, and choices, parents will help their children learn in a healthy and positive way. Is today the day you talk to your child about sex? I think so.

Author's Bio
Mary Kay Thill, MA, LCPC, CCSAC a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, motivational speaker, spiritual guide, and writer with over 25 years of experience helping others grow. I have a background in individual, marital, and family psychotherapy. My work history includes outpatient treatment centers, community mental health, and I was the clinical director at a home for young women.

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Three Lessons to Teach Your Teen About Sex
by Ugo Uche MS., LPC
In a sad way, I find it somewhat amusing when mass media and some parents routinely propose or actually go ahead in giving their teens leniency in regards to breaking universal rules and values around dating and sex. I find this amusing because I routinely have young girls come in to see me or request advice via my website, about their realization that they have become pregnant, and lost as to what course of action to take. Recently I saw a fifteen year old, who was contemplating giving her year old son for adoption, because she had reached her wits end with him. The child, like any one year old, fast approaching his second birthday, has become more active and demanding for attention. These examples are just dealing with teen pregnancy and teen parent hood, I have not begun to go into the adolescent clients diagnosed with herpes, and yes HIV, I have seen in the past.

So yes, I find the glorification of sex with adolescents in today's culture somewhat amusing because, no one ever brags about staying up all night with a crying baby, or being infected with HIV. If you are a parent, there are three lessons you need to teach your teen about sex.

Lesson One
Just as you sat with your toddler (or maybe not), and watched Elmo and friends shamelessly talk about the basics of potty training, you should sit with your teen and shamelessly talk about the basics of sex. From sexual attraction, to arousal, to fore play and intercourse. This difficult and needful conversation has to cover not just sex, but the science behind it. From the differences between the male and female genitalia, to what changes to expect during puberty, pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections.

Lesson Two
So you have gone over the bells and whistles of sex and it's consequences with your teen, now what? Protection. That's right, go ahead; talk about the use of a condom and it's researched statistic, as well as the use of birth control. Condoms if used correctly, will work a hundred percent of the time, ninety-eight percent to account for human error. Then there is the science and timing of birth control pills, explain to your son or daughter what happens if one pill is missed, and the success rate even if the pills are taken on a consistent basis.

Lesson Three
This is the most important lesson of all, as it has to do with the “what if” scenarios. What if your daughter gets pregnant? What if your son gets a sexual transmitted infection, or becomes a father? The focus of this lesson is to teach your teen, that nothing is guaranteed or set in stone, and that their daily choices could trigger a number of infinite possibilities. As a responsible parent, your “what if” response should be tailored towards supporting your teen, but not enabling or bailing them out of trouble.

Teaching these three lessons will not eliminate the possibilities of your teen contracting a sexual transmitted infection or becoming a teen parent, but it will go a long ways towards decreasing the likelihood.

Author's Bio
Ugo Uche is a Licensed Professional Counselor and ADD Life Coach
For more information about the topic of this article please visit

Parenting Isn't Always Easy! My Teen Wants To Know How Sex Was And Is For Me!
by Wouter van der Hall
"Dad, you always said I could ask anything, right?"
"Sure, shoot!"
"Well I know all about how sex is explained in the book you gave me, but not how it really is. How was sex for you when you were young? Was it fun, scary? And how is having sex now? Because when you're my age, it is hard to imagine that someone at your age would still even have sex!"
There I was, sitting comfortably twenty seconds ago, and now just not so relaxed anymore! What to say?
What would you say?

That is right: "How was your first time, dad? How does it feel, mom?" Questions most parents are not prepared to deal with when they talk about sex.

Most parents find talking about sex difficult.
With each other, let alone with their kids. That is not new, although with all the changes over the last 40 years maybe a bit surprising. It is not very common for a parents to say that
"I wish my kids a great sex life".

But isn't that part of being happy, of being a content, satisfied adult? Most of us sure wish ourselves a great sex life, don't we?

Parents are the number 1 source of learning, of values for children and teens. Unless we don't give them anything to work with.
And then the other sources become the major ones where they learn: friends, the street, movies, music videos, porn magazines and videos. And is that really where you want them to learn about sex, about sexuality, sensuality?

And there are more, clear reasons to engage in talking with your kids:
- One in three women has a very negative (first) sexual experience (from unwanted touching to rape) that impacts them for many years.
- Teen pregnancies have declined with increased use of birth control (and with good information in hand!)
- The pressure to be a sexual object, to perform sexual services at ages like twelve and thirteen is dramatic (and traumatic) for young girls (and where do they get that image in the first place?)
- Boys are taught to see girls as sex providers, sex as a right, an entitlement. Sad but true. Just look at some music videos and you will know what I mean.

So, who talks with them about what a great sex life can be?

Many of us will think "Well, my own sex life isn't that great" Why? Often because we haven't talked about it for years and we are tired, caught up in keeping the family running and sex isn't all that exciting anymore. That is no reason not to talk to your kids. Do you want that for them?

What I think parents need to do:

1. Get comfortable with where your own sex life is at and with talking about it.
It doesn't matter whether you are a strict religious person or a person who sees sex as a personal freedom in anyway it is performed. Or anything in between (where most of us are!).
Your kids need to know where you stand and why. By looking at your sex life and getting comfortable to talk about it with others, you will increase your skill to discuss it when the time comes.

2. Think about what you wish your kids.
Do you want them to be happy, healthy adults, with a great sex life (within whatever view of sexuality you have)? Do you want them to know everything they need to know so they can be safe, happy and feel good about choices they make and limits they set? It doesn't matter whether you prefer abstinence or them to do whatever they like. Being informed, by you, will help them. Even if they do it differently, they at least do it informed!

3. Talk about it as early as possible.
Make it easy for your self, and them, by starting early. When questions are still in the "where do babies come from" range. That way you can practice and become comfortable with it, both of you.

If you haven't, be brave and get into it anyway, when they are teens! Introducing talking about sex, your body and how it will change, the feelings you will get, in your own way, teaches them not only the facts, but also to talk about it.

4. Educate yourself on materials/books you can share.
When you prepare by looking for what you deem appropriate materials, you will be ready when needed, and maybe learn a few things, too! (There are many very informative sites , both for parents and teens and as varied as our values are. Just click search on "teens and sex" and the whole spectrum will come up.)

5. Think about the worst thing they can ask you.
By thinking through what you would answer them, knowing that you are trying to prepare them for real life, for mistakes and delights, you can make a lot of questions less threatening. And the chance that you shut them down by getting defensive a lot smaller too.
And yes, your answer can and must be age and maturity fitting. Remember that most often it will be a direct question, needing a simple direct answer.
Not a lecture. (My daughter has a lecture alert "printed" on her face, the moment I get into too much talk!)
So if they ask about "When did you have sex for the first time?" your answer can be direct too: "On my wedding night" "When I was 18" "When I had been in a relationship for three years with..." And, o, 95% of us in North America did have sex before marriage, according to a recent, wide spread survey. So you are not alone, even is that is the value you hold as a goal to strive for.

6. Work on your own sex life. So you can be a role model for your child.
A happy parent, content with and in their body and sex life is the clearest role model you can wish your child. Seeing you, happy where you're at, makes them want to learn from you. And if you are not happy with your sex life, had terrible experiences, try to focus on what you would want them to experience.

7. Teach how to prevent sad experiences, but focus on creating the great ones!
We live in a fear and disaster focused society. Having a great sex life is about a good thing. So help them by teaching them to be prepared and then focus on how to create great experiences! Fear isn't a great thing as you're trying to have a good experience!

And yes, please teach them clear boundaries, open communication, knowing when and how to stop. Making it a two way street in all aspects is a great start. Teach them about both sides of the fence, what their partner may want, need, feel. About risks and diseases. And how to prevent them. And how a great sex life is with someone. Over a longer time. Knowing and trusting each other. Because however intense our one off experiences maybe, that is not what most of us say a great sex life is all about. It is about being with a partner, who you love. And yes, that counts for guys too.

So get ready to talk, about your first time, masturbation, good and bad experiences and yes even about orgasms. So you can, when you need to. In your way, from your values and with what you want you kids to know. And how you are comfortable with it all. Because, remember: if you don't, who will?

I was still pondering my answer, almost hoping the moment would pass, it seemed.
I took a deep breath.
"Well I wasn't that young actually, compared to some. At one time I had come close to having sex earlier but I backed off. I liked the girl, but I didn't want her to be my first. It was at a party and..."

I will leave you to find your anwers, because mine are not yours and that is what your kids will want to know.
I did feel better after talking it, because it became a precious moment, a sharing of something special and I was able to set the tone. One of respect, love and sharing.
And that was what was needed right then, for us.

So be brave and jump in, with your kids, so they know you are there to support them, even if it is about sex!

Author's Bio
Wouter van der Hall is the author of The Parent Program and a Parent and Life Coach
www.theparentprogram.com will give you easy access to positive parenting attitudes, tools and skills. The Parent Program is a 15 minute a day email/web based parenting program. You will feel more relaxed, confident and competent as you deal with parenting issues. 24/7 accessible at home and anywhere, so in your time, pace and comfort. To help you become the great parent you can be.

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