Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dads/Moms, You gotta talk about SEX...

Enjoy these additional tips on having this conversation across the age ranges. Please add any wisdom or insight you may have to offer by commenting below the post!

Ages 5 and under:

As a general rule, most sex education in the early years (5 and under) will be a result of questions stemming from standard curiosity about anatomy and male/female differences. Be honest with your daughter and keep it brief. Make sure that you express the facts with confidence and commend her for her inquisitiveness.

Ages 6-11:

Once your daughter enters grammar school, it is possible that she will be exposed at some level to more sensitive topics related to sex. All it takes is just one student on the playground who has been exposed to information about sex that is inappropriate and voila, your child’s innocence can be robbed. Many children in this age range do not feel comfortable talking to their parents about what they may have heard, so it’s of critical importance to sit down with your daughter and have a general conversation with her for the purpose of encouraging open communication. For example, you might say, “Honey, sometimes there might be kids in your class or at school who say things that may confuse you. Remember, you can talk to me about anything at all, okay?”

My own daughter was ten years old and in the fifth grade when she asked where babies come from and said, “Tell me the truth.” So, I did. I kept it very simple and explained the basics of sex and God’s intent for sex to be between a husband and his wife. I also told her that sometimes people don’t follow God’s rules and she will probably hear about that in the years to come. I told her that we would talk more about body development later in the year and throughout her middle school years. (Note: If you daughter is an early bloomer, you will need to have this conversation earlier.)

Ages 12 and up:

By the time your daughter enters middle school, she should have the basics of body development down and even if she’s not developing at the rate of her peers, she should be aware of changes to come. During these years, it is of critical importance that you come up with a solid plan to educate her about sex and issues related to sex. Again, these will be ongoing conversations, so don’t bombard her with too much information, too soon. However, by the time she enters high school, you should have addressed all the benefits of waiting and the consequences that may occur from not waiting. My personal philosophy is that by middle school, all topics related to sex are fair game. Again, this doesn’t mean you dump all the information contained in this conversation on her in the 6th grade. Use discernment and spread out the facts over her middle school years, trying to touch on each one covered in Conversation #3.

The high school years should be the review years. You should have already built a foundation of facts in her middle school years and now is the time to step it up and remind her of those facts. Ages 15-17 are some of the most difficult years in a girl’s life and she will be bombarded with misinformation regarding sex. Don’t wait for your daughter to come to you in these years. Again, come up with a plan whether it’s an annual weekend get-away or a standing coffee date every 2-4 weeks. If you’re uncomfortable having conversations with her related to sex, be honest and tell her. Tell her that it’s difficult for you, but that your motive is to equip her with God’s standard for sex.

Take advantage of teachable moments that occur in everyday life where sex is not presented according to God’s standard (which, by the way, is the way it is presented by media the majority of the time). For example, if you read a news story related to STD’s and a possible link to infertility on down the road, take advantage and share it with your daughter. When I heard the above news, I told my daughter, “How sad is that that so many girls your age are listening to the culture and believing that sex is no big deal. Do you think they might think twice if they knew that their decision might leave them with an STD that goes undetected over the years and someday, leaves them unable to have children?” It seemed to help my daughter connect the dots between sex and the possible long-term consequences when I would paint a word picture for her and walk the scenario down it’s possible path.

You may have taken notice to the fact that the majority of the criticism related to abstinence only sex education programs is that they don’t offer students enough information. Of course, the critics are referring mainly to a lack of information over birth control options. There is some truth in the statement that students are not being given enough information, but I would argue that the information they are lacking are the facts I have summarized in Conversation #3. Rather than throw condoms and birth control pills at our children, why not give our daughters all the facts regarding sex so they can make fully-informed decisions? Of course, don’t wait on other sources to present the facts covered in Conversation #3 to your daughter. It’s up to you to take a proactive approach and adopt a new, upgraded sex talk—one you will have over and over again through the middle and high school years.
© 2008, Vicki Courtney. Used by Permission. Originally posted at www.virtuealert.com.

1 comment:

AliSue said...

This is a subject very dear to my heart. It is VERY important that you talk to your daughters. Do not for one second think that she will figure it out on her own. Even at the tender age of 18, we all know, she still has SO much to learn. Don't let reality be her wake up call. She will be robbed of more than her innocence at that point. Believe me, she will be just as uncomfortable as you but it's nothing compared to being a teen and carrying a big belly around at 9 months pregnant!