Are your young children beginning to ask you about sex? How are you dealing with it?
In her book, Melissa R. Cox outlined some of the most common issues and questions that we parents face regarding the matter and how we are supposed to handle them, taking into consideration developmental level and our cultural sensitivities to the subject.
When do you start teaching a child about sex?The answer is Now! Talking about sex and sexuality is something that begins in early infancy as you start to respond to your child as he becomes curious about his body. And this curiosity will continue to grow as he does. If you start talking early about these issues, the conversation will never seem awkward or inappropriate.
Can you tell your child too much too soon? In our sexualized culture, sexual awareness is tossed on the child much sooner than you wish. In this atmosphere, you’ll face the challenge of preparing the child to understand sexual issues without burdening him with facts and feelings he can’t emotionally handle. The details need to be developmentally appropriate. But if in any case you present too much information, no worries because he will likely brush it off and not be bothered with it.
What about teaching too little or too late? If you aren’t timely in sharing the facts of sexuality with your child, her first impression about sex could come from somebody else which may not reflect your values and that of your family. In the absence of information from you, your child will likely be confronted with sexual situations he is not intellectually and emotionally prepared to handle.
What can I do to feel more confident to talk about sex to my child?The answer is, “Just do it!” The more you talk, the better you’ll feel. Talking about sex can be embarrassing but it can also be fun. Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know.” Don’t be afraid to admit your failures. If you are still dealing with hang-ups about sex, it’s time to work through the issues. Remember, just do it.
What if I did not start early, can I still catch up? If you missed out on the early stages, you can start where you are and make the best out of it. It’s better to start now than not talk at all. With a teenager, you can start the conversation by apologizing for not talking. Then ask him if he has questions.
How important is the family to developing a healthy attitude toward sexuality? The quality of a child’s family relationships plays a vital role in his developing sense of his own sexuality. In fact, according to Cox, the overall atmosphere of the home is more important than his parent’s ability to present the facts perfectly. A home where a child feels accepted and where family members are comfortable with their sexuality sets the stage for healthy sexual attitudes in the future.
How can I help my child have a wholesome attitude about his body? Attitudes are largely caught rather than taught. Your child will generally mirror attitudes when it comes to his body and sex. If you have a sense of shame about your body and sexuality, he may adopt the same attitude. If you’re comfortable about your body and sexuality, he will be as well.
We’ll have more of this next Sunday. Stay tuned.