Did your parents ever sit you down, with sweaty palms, and nervous words and attempt to tell you the facts of life? My mom was of the generation with the mindset that "we don't talk about those kinds of things" she talks about it now that we are adults. But, luckily for me I had a sister 13 years older than I, who got married at a young age. Who could and did answer any questions I might have had.
I've had friends tell me their stories of how their parents (usually their mom) sat them down and had "the talk" with them. And about how embarrassed and even mortified they were. A memory they cannot forget. So, I ask you; why would we want to do that to our kids?
Dr. Phil says (and I really agree with him on this one) that talking to our kids about the facts of life should not be A conversation. It should be many conversations, that take place all during our children's life. Not a once in a life time deal, when we work ourselves all up and get so nervous that we can barely get the words out. Imagine the impact of that on a child.
Instead, sex and puberty, etc. should be things, like everything else, that we talk about regularly. When we were youth pastors we had teenagers ask us ALL KINDS of questions, some that would embarrass Dr. Ruth! And I determined then, before my kids were old enough to even talk that I wanted an open relationship with them where they would feel comfortable talking to me about anything.
So, anytime they ask a question I try to never say, "we'll talk about that later, when your older" but, to answer it. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to know the answer. And here is my rule of thumb: answer all questions in the simplest form possible. If the answer doesn't suffice they will continue to ask more questions and you can answer with more depth. They are children and do not need to know everything you know as an adult, but you don't want them getting answers from the wrong sources.
For example when my kids see a commercial on T.V. and ask me: what is a condom anyway? I start with something like: it's something men use when they have sex, so their wife doesn't get pregnant, If that's what's age appropriate, or If you have younger children just say it helps people not have a baby before they're ready to. If they want more information and continue to ask, I'll continue to answer. If they say "Oh, okay" your good.
You can use what you see on T.V. to start many meaningful conversations. I'll find myself saying things to my girls like, "Do you know why that girl is going after that boy who we know is bad? It's because she doesn't love herself". . . and we talk about self-esteem. Or the choices we make and how they affect our life and the lives of those around us. Even just today, we were talking with our boys about Micheal Phelps and how no matter what great things you do, or accomplishments you might have, you still have consequences for your actions. And one bad choice, even if it doesn't seem like such a bad one, can affect the rest of your life. Here he is an Olympic gold medalist who is suspended from his swim team now for one bad choice, or lack of judgment.
The other day my girls and I were in the car on the way to church and between Jonas Brothers songs one of the girls asks randomly "So, why do women have to have a period EVERY month?" This must have been something she'd been thinking about since one of our previous conversations, or maybe it just popped into her head, I don't know. (I do know that I've asked myself the same question every month since I was about 12!) So, I tried to explain cycles again.
The key is to not make any question they might have seem nasty or bad. Even though it may be uncomfortable for us to talk about such things with our own children. I'd much rather they ask me than some friend at school who will give them who knows what for an answer. And try to make it just like any other conversation you have. Not something they need to be embarrassed about or make them afraid to ask.
Speaking of embarrassing . . . I remember once when my boys were too little to have had any of these conversations, we were outside talking with one of our neighbors and I mentioned my husband and I were going out on a date that night and one of my boys said very nonchalantly "You are? Are you gonna have sex?" I was surprised he had heard that word before, (it must have been from some of those teenagers I talked about before) But, I know he didn't know what it meant. I'm sure I turned all red and I think I said something sarcastic like "In your dad's dreams" to make my neighbor laugh.
Okay, so, now it's your turn. I want to hear your stories about how and when your parents had "The Talk" with you, or about conversations you've had with your kids. Even if they are embarrassing. Leave them in the comments so we can all learn from them or laugh with them! And keep talking! Even when it's uncomfortable!