1. Have one knock-down-drag-out “talk.” You’ll hate it, they’ll hate it and the chance they ever come back for more is slim. Short and sweet conversations from the time they are in preschool until they leave the nest is the way to go.
2. Think strangers will molest them. Strangers aren’t the threat, kids are molested by someone they know over 90% of the time. They have a higher chance of being struck by lightening than by being stranger molested. Put your energy into teaching them to be savvy about their safety.
3. Freak out when they touch their privates. It’s normal to explore your body – freaking out tells them there is something wrong with them, their body, and you.
4. Imply that sex is for baby making only. This is fine when they are 4, but they really need to know we have sex for fun 99.9% of the time. It explains what the big deal is – it feels good.
5. Talk about your own personal, current sex life in detail (or at all, really). Do you want to know about your parent’s sex life? They don’t either. Keep it to yourself.
6. Tell them they are too young to know. If they ask, they need to know. Answer their questions as best you can so you keep the communication flowing.
7. Think because they never ask they don’t need to know. Never asking only means they never ask. Nothing more. This isn’t a free pass to skip the talks.
8. Pass the buck to school, the internet or their other parent. Nothing sends the message that you aren’t a resource for them like letting someone else teach them about sexuality. And you miss out on teaching your own values.
9. Think “She’s smart. She’s got a good head on her shoulders. She’ll do the right thing.” She is smart, but that’s not enough to keep her from making impulsive and dumb decisions about sex. Make sure she knows her sexual values, limits and how to protect herself.
10. If he says he’s in love, he’s in love. Maybe not fully adult, mature, grown up love, but love is love. Respect his feelings.
11. Communicate that being gay is not okay. You can’t tell by looking. You know you love your child – what’s more important? Your relationship with your child or your discomfort or religious beliefs?
12. Try to convince them not to have sex when they tell you they are thinking about having sex. If they tell you they are thinking about having sex, chances are high they have already had sex. It’s smarter to make sure they are using birth control and have condoms. Revisit the compelling reasons to wait talk. Or start it.
13. Tell them sex is for marriage and leave it at that. “Marriage” is not a compelling reason to wait to have sex if you are a horny, in love teenager. They need to know what it is about marriage that makes it the goal.
14. Believe them when they say they already know it all. Ha! YOU don’t even know it all. Charge ahead with whatever is on your mind. No one ever died from listing to their parent talk about sex.
A three time Mom’s Choice Award® winner for her book, journal and DVD, Amy Lang, MA created the modern parent’s birds and bees talk. She teaches in the Seattle area and nationally. She offers lectures and consultations for parents, teachers and childcare providers. Visit BirdsAndBeesAndKids.com for video tips, book suggestions and to sign up for her newsletter.