Have "The Talk" with Your Child
Edited by Angel Hammer, Eng, Lynn, Marian Raquel F. Roncesvalles
One of the many challenges of parenthood is when, and how, to have "The Talk" with your child. Many parents feel inadequate and unprepared when the time comes that they need to kick off that line of conversation with their sons and daughters. This is indeed one of the nerve-wracking and somewhat scary scenarios that anyone could ever handle in their journey as parents. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration about this topic before you proceed! Please keep in mind that every child is different. In the same manner that what might work for one child may not be effective for another. You will need to balance the need to have the conversation with your child with the rules listed below, on a basis that you find appropriate. Follow this procedure to help make the conversation as painless and productive as possible in order to properly gear him or her in the direction you want them to take.
- 1There are many factors to take into consideration, the first of which is the appropriate age at which to have the talk with your child or children. As mentioned above, every child is unique; some will be able to handle this kind of conversation early on before others, but a good guideline is to have the conversation based not on the age of your child, but on the maturity level. Timing is an important factor as well. There are children that are way mature beyond his or her age. If you observe that your child is able to successfully take on more responsibilities than anyone his or her age can handle then they could be ready for a more mature and serious conversation regarding awareness on sexuality and the responsibilities that comes with it. Also, if the physical changes are coupled with increased curiosity level and other behavioral changes then it is high time to break the ice and provide your kid straight and accurate facts before he or she attempts to seek information from unreliable and erroneous sources (like immature peers). You don't want to have this talk with your children too early when they aren't ready, but you also don't want to wait too long, or just assume that they will figure it out on their own. Most parents believe that the moment their children reaches puberty and are more curious and growing conscious of their bodies would be the best time to proceed with "the talk". You should pay better attention to your kids and be open regarding discussions of what they are busy with in school, peer or social activities, personal hobbies, and at home. Your increased enthusiasm, interest, and support in the things that your kids are doing gradually provide that boost of confidence that they need to be successful in accomplishing their day-to-day to-do checklists.Assess the situation.
- 2Some parents would be more confident and decide to talk to their kids about delicate and important matters like this together. However, most parents would agree that it would be highly recommended that moms do "the talk" with their daughters; in the same way that dads are believed to be the better choice to deal with the man-to-man talk with their sons. It takes a bit more than typical common sense to know how to engage your child to a conversation when you have had first-hand experience on the different rites of passage and the ins and outs of puberty, adolescence, and adulthood. Being able to experience walking in your child's shoes and relate that experience to today's modern so-called "growing pains" will help you direct your children to open up and be trusting in the course of your conversation.Both parents or just one parent can initiate the conversation.
- 3Your children should know that they can come to you at anytime with questions, and they should feel comfortable doing so. It may be called, "The Talk" but it shouldn't be limited to that one conversation! Allow her to be comfortable by talking about random topics like school activities or any new craft that he or she is planning to pursue. Let your child do the talking and allow them to freely share anything that comes to mind. You can then ease the conversation into an open discussion regarding sex and their own sexuality. You can discuss the biological facts about it - their raging hormones and the different opinions people may have regarding sex. You should educate them about their own bodies and that as much as they are regarded to be biologically equipped and able to conceive a child does not mean that they are emotionally, mentally, physically, psychologically, and financially ready to be a parent especially at a very young age. It is better for them to know straight facts from their own parents rather than from their peer groups or other external influences like different media platforms especially when every teen can acquire instant information from varied sources over the internet.Make sure that you are not judgmental.
- 4Discuss safe sex using birth control and prophylactics as well as the benefits of abstinence. You shouldn't limit your child, but give him or her the low down on the benefits and setbacks of all of their options so that they do not sneak around behind your back! Discuss all known aspects of sex such as in relevance to education, religion, society, and even in the workplace. Stress out the fact that although sex in general is a natural part of life, "premarital sex" or engaging in sexual promiscuity or any related activities at an early age is an entirely different thing and is considered a deviant and unacceptable behavior in the society and at home. Discuss the different advantages or setbacks of engaging in early or premarital sexual intercourse which include failed relationships, STDs, unplanned pregnancies, not finishing school, inability to land in a decent a job; and much more. Instill the fact that there are no known advantages or benefits associated to doing the deed at an early age. Be as unbiased and realistic when talking to your child. State different facts or examples like celebrities or other popular public figures that could have done a similar thing and has suffered the consequences. Citing legal, psychological, and media references like news related to sexual promiscuity of teenagers that led to tragic events could be very helpful in developing a healthy sexual orientation and attitude in your child. This will serve as an eye-opener for your child that engaging in early sexual activities entails responsibilities and there are life-changing consequences that must be faced. They should be able to establish this reality as a fact without ever experimenting on it or doing a trial-and-error kind of thing. Tell him or her what your expectations and principles are as a parent. Discuss the values and mindset that you expect from him or her even at an early age which they will need in order to combat urges that might lead to sexually promiscuous behavior. Remember how you felt at the age of your child and try to come into the conversation with a level head.Lay out all of the options for your child.
- 5Think of this time as an event that will be very relevant to your child's crucial decisions and actions involving her sexuality at present and in the future. This is one of the important and memorable lifetime events that every parent needs to be prepared for (in all aspects possible). For one, you will serve as an expert and trusted source on sexual awareness and also a living proof or example of how it works in your life. You should walk the talk indeed. Tell him or her your own experiences as a young man or woman and share the difficulties or struggles that you have battled and how you have successfully surpassed all of them. It is important to plan ahead and conduct "the talk" at both your available times. This should be a whole day or even a weekender event that could include more activities that you can inject in between or after the in-depth conversations. You can do it at the convenience of your own home (like in his or her bedroom) or you can innovate and do it somewhere else like go for a weekend trip to a tranquil cabin by the lake or a beach resort. You can also be adventurous and go camping with your son. Wherever you plan to do "the talk", make sure to go for somewhere private or a place significant to both of you as you do not want other people snooping around with confidential and private conversations involving sex and you do want your child to be comfortable, honest, and receptive in the entire course of conversation. You can plan your activities in such a way that could put you both at ease before proceeding with "the talk". You can do some relaxation activities first like go fishing, shopping, or even shoot some hoops before starting the private conversation with your child. Make sure that he or she is relaxed but not too exhausted though as this could intervene in the process of your conversation. Some parents would opt to the bonding or relaxation activities afterwards to seal the event. You can do similar activities before and after "the talk" to create quality and lasting memories with your child. Remember, that this is one time in his or her life that they will look back to especially in trivial times when they need to make that important shift or decision regarding sex and commitment. "The talk" is conducted to enable your son and daughter to make the right and well-discerned decision when that fateful day comes. These are the scary scenarios that would play in every worried parent's mind and the conversation you had with your child will keep you confident that he or she will be responsible enough to say "no" or to choose the responsible decision despite social or peer pressure, media influences, and personal urges or curiosity.Set a time and place for the conversation, so that your child has time to think up any questions that he or she may have, and won't be caught by surprise.
- 6Nip it in the bud to prevent disaster!Studies show that sexual curiosity and awareness begins at a very young age. Sexual differentiation actually starts at a young age of 3 when one is able to determine his or her sexual orientation depending on gender and related activities. This is primarily the reason why kids or toddlers would ask questions like "where do babies come from?" or "why is my body different from yours?". They would also ask the names of their sexual organs. Be careful when providing information about sensitive matters such as this. Always relay the facts on the information they need. Do not refer to the private parts as "flower" or "bird" as most parents would do to their little tots. Supply the real names but do not give too much or unnecessary information than they can absorb especially if they are still very young. Aim to answer every question they could have in mind especially while having the conversation with your child. You can ask about the changes that she observes with his or her body and educate or assure your child that these are normal changes that happen in puberty or adolescence. Ask him about the way he or she feels about these changes. Relate your own experiences during your puberty stage and how you felt the same way at that time. It is important to do "the talk" in a very comfortable position like doing it face-to-face conversations while sitting on the floor, on the bed, or in a relaxing sofa. Tell your child that all of these bodily reactions and changes are normal and crucial to his development. Even the hormonal changes and fluctuations that he or she experiences are nothing to be worried about as these are all part of the growing up phase. Discuss strong emotions or urges that he or she might be experiencing at this point. Assure your child that these are biologically normal but should not be acted upon. Teenagers at this point could be attracted to the opposite sex. Acknowledge that these feelings are normal but that sexual energies must be directed towards other productive efforts like sports or other school activities which are far more important than other things at this time. Your kids will feel confident about their bodies and will be effective in dealing with the hormonal and bodily changes when they are well-educated and guided to make informed and responsible decisions despite emerging modern beliefs and social pressures to conform. Let your child know that the most popular choice is not always the right choice. Also, encourage your child to speak his or her mind in any type of conversation that you might have in the family. Allow your child to actively participate (to agree or disagree) in family conversations because that will train him or her to be confident in his choices and to think ahead in any given circumstances. This will also help him or her figure out the right values and decisions despite conflicting opinions that his or her friends might have. Your child will be able to make better choices with properly-instilled values and straight facts (from parents) amidst the nagging pressure that the outside world might throw on him or her. You will be confident that your child is ready to make a difference despite the dangerously explicit sexual liberation and promiscuity that some teenagers are falling prey into. Arm your child with the right information, solid values, and life lessons that he or she can rely on when sailing on rough waters. Let your child know and understand that they can turn to you for support and advice anytime they need them. Equip your kids with the right mindset and values that will help them be more responsible and productive individuals that can influence their peers in positive ways.Just because your child is too young for sexual activity does not mean that they are ever too young to know how their body works.
- Remember if your child is curious, he or she will find out the information somehow. In the internet age, with all of the misinformation that is currently floating around, would you rather have them find these things out from you or from their peers and random websites?
Categories : Parenting
Recent edits by: Lynn, Eng, Angel Hammer