How should I talk to my tween about sex?
Real Mom Problem
“My son is 11 years old and I know we have to start having the sex talk with him. I'm almost afraid because he gets embarrassed very easily and I want him to listen. Some of his friends are making out already!”
- 1. Instead of one major talk, try having an open dialogue about sex, so that your tween knows he can always come to you with questions
- 2. Start by talking about puberty and bodily changes, and when your tween is comfortable with that, move on to sex
- 3. Try not to act embarrassed by the conversation; seeing you on edge is likely to make him embarrassed, too
- 4. Some moms take their tweens out for a meal to make having the talk a special event
Real Mom Solutions
Making sure your kids are educated about sex is an important part of parenting a preteen. See how these moms handled "the talk."
Turn the Talk Into an Ongoing Dialogue
I had kind of a puberty talk with my oldest when she was about seven or eight and then explained sex (and our family values on it) when she was about nine. I was pregnant at the time so that kind of worked its way in as the subject. We have had several discussions on the matter and I know we aren't done; as she gets older more things will come up. We covered the basic concepts initially. And she truly did NOT know what sex was when we first talked. The hardest part for me was actually explaining the act of insertion. UGH! I was mortified, and she was repulsed (LOL)! Recently she saw something on TV about condoms and asked what they were (at 12), so we had a further talk about diseases, pregnancy, and kids having sex way too young (at her age), and she was once again repulsed!
We began talking to our son when he was eight-and-a-half. We opened the dialogue by talking about how his body would be changing as he grew through the tween years and into his teens, things like growing hair in all sorts of new places, voice changing, and shoulders and chest getting broader.
A few months ago he was hearing things at school and started asking questions. We had a high level sex talk in response to those questions. He's a very scientific kid so that became a good starting place. He already understood that children get some of their DNA from their father and some from their mother. I used that info as a place to start and then told him how dad's DNA got to mom. It's not a conversation we had planned on having at nine years old, but the kids joking around in a suggestive manner sort of took that decision away from us.
We've recently given him the book "The Boy's Body Book." It's well written in a comfortable, kid-friendly style. He reads it on his own and then asks questions as he feels ready to do so. My husband and I ask him from time to time if he's been reading and what he thinks of it. It's a non-threatening way to give him some info and let him ask on his own terms.
Just be clear with your son that there is nothing to be embarrassed by if he has questions. It is not a comfortable talk but if you're acting embarrassed, he's going to take that as he ought to be embarrassed. Practice the talk a few times on your own so you're ready to go into it as matter-of-factly and comfortably as possible. We were clear with our son that he can come to us with anything, and even if he's feeling a little nervous or embarrassed, he can ask his questions.
Just go ahead and talk. Let them ask questions. Let them know that no matter how embarrassing it seems to them, and how funny it makes them feel even thinking it, you are the one to talk to about it and that you once were a kid with the same thoughts, same questions. Even if you are blown away about their question, try not to show the shock! This will embarrass them even more and make them hold back what's on their mind. Imagine how blown away I was when my girls came to me and asked if people really do have sex changes and why!?
If you haven't had some talks with your son about his body, puberty, and hormones, you really need to start there. Both of my boys have "The Boy's Body Book" by Kelli Dunham that they read on their own and we also read together. I typically try to have talks with my boys when the subject matter naturally comes up. Like when they mention about a friend having a girlfriend or a girl likes them. This way, you know that you have their attention and that this subject is on their mind already. If you don't get an opportunity like this, you just have to start talking. I've found the car to be a great place to talk because they can't walk away from you to avoid the talk. Remember to be open and honest when talking, and try to avoid using slang. Also remember that this is a subject that needs to be discussed often. Reinforce that you are always there to answer questions or to talk.
Have the talk in installments. One suggestion to start might be to say something like "do your friends in school talk about getting their periods, or have them?" You will see that either she will say, "What's that?" (Doubt it!) Or she'll say, "Yes, blah blah blah." Keeping it a bit impersonal helps break the ice. If she is shy about talking or just refuses, then I'd "lecture" by saying, "Well, I don't want to pry about you (or your friends), but what I want you to know is x, y, z." Of course, you should reassure her and tell her she can come to you with any questions or problems. Ask if she will do that. Ask if she is comfortable talking about sex with you. A lot of kids are shy about it. If she says she isn't comfortable coming to you or something along those lines, I'd suggest you agree on another means to bring the subject up (e.g. her leaving you a note, or just a text saying "can we talk tonight?") and then you can bring it up and see what she wants to know.
My son is 12, and we really haven't had one single talk but we've been having mini, age-appropriate talks over the years. We normally just go with the flow when things happen. Many things initiate the talks--TV shows, something happening in the lives of friends and family, school events, and more.
I think you should do things in stages. Talk to her about the changes in her body, then explain to her what her menstrual cycle is (and start calling her "parts" by their actual names if you haven't already), and then after you've explained and talked to her about those things, start "The Talk." Reason being is that a lot of girls (I've been confided in by young girls), when they get the talk don't even understand their bodies to begin with, and therefore the talk is more confusing.
Encourage a healthy dialogue and help her understand that you are the person to give her the confidence she needs when it comes to information. Let her guide the conversation and stop when she feels it's overwhelming. You can always pick it up later--in fact, that may be another mother-daughter date!
Some Moms Make It a Special Event
I would take your daughter out to lunch somewhere, just you and her, and talk about what she does know about sex, and ask her if she has any concerns or questions. Just make it a lighthearted, yet serious talk and let her know that the doors are ALWAYS open for her to come to you.
I made it a little special and my daughter and I went out to eat and then went and had a root beer float that I know she had been wanting from this certain ice cream store. She was very receptive and it was easier than I thought. We are Christians and so I also took it from God's point of view that sex is his present to us when we are married and it is meant for a husband and wife. I read some scripture to her and just told her how we felt and that some people do it before they are supposed to but that is their choice and it isn't what God intended.
Doing another activity while having the sex discussion helps. That way you don't feel the need to look at each other if he's easily embarrassed.