|Sexuality Education for Parents
|What do you do or say when -
Your 5 year old asks where babies come from?
Your 3 year old masturbates at nap time?
Your teen asks when is it okay to have sex?
You 10 year old asks what is oral sex?
Your 8 year old calls everything “gay”?
Your 16 year old daughter wants to get on birth control?
You find condoms in your 15 year old sons room?
Your teen wants to know how to tell if he/she is in love?
Your teen is in an abusive relationship?
Your child asks you personal questions about your sex life?
Scroll down for ways to answer kids questions
|Good news !
If your child or teen is actually asking you these kinds of questions it is a good sign that you have a good relationship with your child and
especially so if your child is a teen or preteen and is asking you for answers on questions about sex. Many children never ask parents
sexuality questions because they are too embarrassed or they do not trust that parents will give them honest answers. So, they get their
information elsewhere, often from untrustworthy sources. If your child is not asking questions about sexuality, you can be sure that
he/she has or will have these questions in mind. You need to start the conversation, prove that you can be trusted to do your best to give
honest answers to many of life’s toughest questions.
More GOOD NEWS — answering honestly and discussing sexuality gives you an excellent opportunity to bond with your child and to
instill YOUR values. Kids are getting information about sexuality everywhere. They will be absorbing the information and values or lack
of values that they see and hear all around them. However, YOU, the parents, can have more influence than everything else IF you are
willing to take the time and have the courage to be honest answering and discussing sexuality and YOUR values with your children.
|So lets get started!
First, YOU need to decide what you really believe and what messages and morals you want your child to learn from you.
|What are YOUR attitudes and beliefs about sexuality?
Sexuality is more than sexual intercourse. It includes anatomy, body image, gender identity, gender role, relationships, how we express
love and affection, sexual attraction or sexual orientation, sensuality such as enjoyment of touching, kissing, and sexual intercourse.
This is a lot of stuff, break it down and decide what you really think about each item before trying to talk to your kids about sex.
Anatomy, body parts, everyone has concerns about their body from health issues to beauty and concerns about being normal. The
media, TV, movies, music, put a lot of emphasis on certain body types being sexually attractive and desirable. Not many real people
can fit these images. What do you think about this? How can you help your children to have a healthy attitude about their bodies?
Gender identity, probably most of us feel most of the time that we fit emotionally with our physical gender. For example most people
who have a penis are okay with being male, most of those with a vagina are okay with being female, athough there may be some times
when many of us feel that we have some traits that would fit better with the opposite gender. Then there are some people that feel they
are really totally in the wrong body, that they were meant to be female even though they have male genitalia or vice versa. Stories about
gender identity and sex changing operations get plenty of coverage on the news and TV shows. Kids need guidance in understanding
these stories in a humane way, not as cruel jokes. Perhaps you will need more scientific information on this subject before you can
decide what and how to educate your children on the subject of gender identity.
Gender role refers to what society defines as the role of females and the role of males. In our society there is some conflict about what
is okay for males versus what is okay for females. Is it okay for a male to have many sexual partners? Does that make him a real
“stud”? Is it okay for a female to have many sexual partners? Or does that make her a slut? Is it okay for a man to be gentle and
sensitive or even cry? Is it okay for a woman to join the army and kill people in combat? How do you feel about gender roles? Why?
What do you want to teach your children about this issue?
Relationships, what is a healthy relationship? Is equality in a relationship important? What about making sacrifices for the
relationship? What is abusive or controlling in a relationship versus helping and protecting? Is having a healthy relationship important
in order to have “good” sex? Kids learn a lot about relationships by observing parents.
Sexual attraction is a powerful force in most people’s lives. While a majority of people feel this attraction to people of the opposite sex,
a significant number of people feel this powerful force attracting them to people of the same sex. Some people feel sexual attraction to
people of either sex. We refer to these differences in who we are sexually attracted to, as our sexual orientation. We do not and can not
choose who we are sexually attracted to (we can choose whether or not to act on any sexual attraction). There are numerous scientific
studies suggesting many biological reasons for differences in sexual orientation. There are not yet clear answers on why these
differences exist. For some people dogmatic religious beliefs influence feelings about sexual orientation. It is important to examine
this sort of belief system so that it does not lead to teaching children to despise and persecute others. Children need guidance on
dealing with their developing feelings of sexual attraction and understanding possible differences in sexual orientation.
Sensuality! Sex feels good! It is important to be honest about this. In the U.S. we have developed a myth about educating our kids
about sex. The myth is that if we tell them sex is disgusting, dirty , bad; so save it for marriage, the one you love. Then they won’t have
sex until they are married! Ridiculous, of course. So before you can talk honestly to your kids it is important to decide what you think are
appropriate ways to enjoy sensuality. Of course sensuality can be enjoyed in more ways than sexual intercourse. How can you help
your teen understand what kind of touching is okay, how far can you go safely and why? Teens always want to know why. We enjoy
sensuality in many ways throughout life, really from birth. Babies touch their genitals for pleasure young children masturbate. It is
natural and normal. The messages you give to your children about sensuality start very young, actually from birth on. What do you want
these messages to be? How will you give these messages?
|Your 5 year old asks you where do babies come from? Parenting information
Step 1 ask the child where do you think babies come from?
The child may reply, the hospital, mommy’s tummy, I don’t know or many other possible answers. Getting this information from your
child will help you to know what he may be thinking and how to give a helpful answer. If the child answers, the hospital or mommy’s
tummy. You can say "Yes, you are partly right." But then you need to provide more detailed information, see step 2.
Step 2 answer the question.
“A baby comes from inside the mother. A baby starts growing from a very tiny egg in a special place inside the mother called the
uterus. A mother goes to the hospital when it is time for the baby to be born,. When the baby is born it comes out of the mother’s
vagina.” (young children should be taught the proper names for the sexual body parts)
Step 3 ask the child did that answer your question, do you understand the answer?
The child may say yes and let it go at that, or the child may ask how the baby got inside the mother?
A simple answer to how the baby gets inside the mother—
The father’s penis goes inside the mother’s vagina tiny specs come out of the penis, called sperm and one joins with a tiny egg inside
the mother’s uterus. This grows into a baby. It takes 9 months for the baby to grow and then the baby is born.
(There are many books with drawings that you could read with your child to help explain this answer.)
Some 5 year olds will understand this information easily, others may be uninterested or confused, most will forget or get confused
about it over time and need to have this question answered again. But the important message you have given by answering honestly
is that you can be trusted and you are willing and comfortable about answering questions about sexuality. On the other hand if you give
a less than honest answer sooner or later the child will realize that you lied and later in life will be less likely to trust you to answer
other questions especially serious questions that will arise as the child goes through puberty and the teen years.
It is quite possible that a child will share any answers you give with other children or anyone else. Sometimes parents of other
children are unprepared for this and may complain to you about what your child shared. You may need to explain that you are providing
healthy, age appropriate sexuality education for your child. You may ask your child not to share information about where babies come
from, etc. but this may give a child a sense of shame about the subject.
|Your 3 year old masturbates at nap time.
This is perfectly normal. You do not want to shame your child. The message you want to give your child is that masturbation is okay in
private. Just like you teach your child to only pick her nose in private, a child can be taught to only masturbate in private. If the child is
masturbating at day care make sure the day care providers understand it is normal and do not scold the child but ask the child calmly
to only do it in private. Many children masturbate to soothe themselves when they are stressed. They may do this without being fully
aware of what they are doing and therefore may need to be reminded not to do this in public. Masturbation by itself is not generally a
sign of sexual abuse.
|Your teen asks when is it okay to have sex?
Most likely if your teen actually asks you this you have a good relationship with your teen. Congratulations!
Step 1, ask what do you think? Listen carefully, observe body language, eye rolling, etc. You may get a clue as to what your teen is
thinking about and this could help a lot to give you ideas on what to say about this.
If your teen has not asked this question it is very, very important to discuss this topic often, whenever there is a teachable moment.
You may have religious beliefs regarding this, such as sex is only okay when you are married. But since it is obvious to any child that
many people who are not married have sex it is important to discuss why you think this is wrong, if you do think it is wrong. Whatever
your beliefs about sex, with or without marriage, it is important to discuss risks of having sex, such as sexually transmitted infections
and pregnancy and this is a great opportunity for you to share your values, that is your moral belief system about sexuality. It is
important to help a teen to think about how an unplanned pregnancy could really devastate career or college plans or even plans to
save money and buy a car (remember teens are notoriously short sighted).
|Your 10 year old asks, what is oral sex?
These days even younger children might ask this question since they may hear the term on the news or from other kids. Step 1 ask
what they think the answer is. You may get an answer like “talking dirty”, or talking about sex on the phone. Step 2 answer honestly, it
is a sexual act of putting a penis in the mouth or mouth on female genitals. People do it for pleasure, but it has risks of transmitting
infections and you might want to add that it is something that should only be done by adults in a committed relationship or marriage
as it is a very intimate kind of sharing. Again this is your chance to teach your moral beliefs. If you feel that your child is really too young
to understand you may choose to say that you will explain when they are older, but most any kid even as young as 7 or 8 can
understand a simple answer about this subject and answering honestly builds trust between you and your child.
|Your 8 year old calls everything “gay”.
You have at least several choices, ignore it, order him to stop doing this or you can explain why you don’t want him to use this word
inappropriately. This last choice will help you to build an honest, trusting relationship with your child. It is important to say that using
the word inappropriately can hurt people’s feelings and that you will not allow him to use the word inappropriately for that reason
You could explain that a person who is gay falls in love with people of the same sex instead of people of the opposite sex. It is
important to explain that some people think being gay is bad, but that under no circumstances do you approve of teasing or making
fun of someone who is gay. This is a good chance to say something about your feeling and beliefs about homosexuality and treating
people with respect even if you disapprove of homosexuality. Certainly you do not want to ignore the fact that your child may be using
the word gay to taunt other kids, so this is an opportunity to educate about morality and respect for others as well as an opportunity for
|Your 16 year old daughter wants to get on birth control.
If your daughter asks you about this it is an important sign that she trusts you at least a little. Many teens get on birth control without
ever letting parents know. So even if your teen daughter has not mentioned birth control it is important to discuss this with her and
actually with sons too. No parent wants their 16 year old having sex but at 16 most teens are desperate for autonomy. Being told they
can’t do something will just instill a strong motivation to do it. Your best bet is to calmly discuss the available methods of birth control
with her and a doctor and remind her that no method is 100% sure to prevent pregnancy and there is still the risk of infections.
Discuss how an unplanned pregnancy might interfere with her life plans. Discuss any religious beliefs you have related to this issue,
but remember you can’t force anyone, not even your own child to have your beliefs. Quite possibly she is feeling a lot of pressure from
a boyfriend or peers to have sex. Maybe you can help her to resist this pressure, but remember pressure from you is not likely to be as
strong as pressure from them. Your best chance of helping her is to explain to her why you believe having sex is not the best choice for
any 16 year old and show her respect by listening to her opinions. You may be able to prevent her from having any opportunity to have
sex, but be careful if she can’t see him at all she decide to run away to be with him.
|You find condoms in your 15 year old son’s room.
If he is having sex and actually using condoms he is being considerably more responsible than most other teens. However, you may
find this to be of little consolation when thinking about how you and he will handle it if he becomes a parent at 15. It is possible that he
is keeping a condom in his pocket just to impress the other guys and perhaps even claiming to have sex when maybe he isn’t. Peer
pressure for teen boys is enormous. The important thing now is that you find a way to have some teachable moments right away
regarding peer pressure and the reliability of condoms and other methods of birth control. In other words he needs to know that even
if he uses condoms he is taking a risk of becoming a teen father or getting an infection. Although condoms are very effective at
preventing HIV infection, they do not protect well from genital warts and herpes. He also needs to know that even though anyone
having sex should always use condoms there are much more reliable methods of birth control that should also be used. A man
mature enough to have sex should discuss these options with his partner before having sex and since no method of birth control is
100% sure to prevent pregnancy he needs to think about how becoming a father at 15 will change his opportunities for the future. Yes,
he will have to pay child support even as a teen so if he becomes a father he won’t have time for sports or computer games there will
be only time for school and a job. These are all subjects you need to discuss with him calmly. Giving orders and shouting will likely
close his mind to being reasonable.
|Your teen wants to know how to tell if he/she is in love.
Again if your teen asks you about this it is a good sign of some trust and respect for you. But this is a subject that should be
discussed in many teachable moments throughout the teen years and even earlier in childhood before the confusion of going
through puberty hits. The feelings of sexuality that rampage through a body during puberty are intense and confusing. Of course even
adults have trouble knowing when it’s love or maybe just infatuation. Make sure your teen knows the meaning of the word infatuation.
It is helpful to have a word other than love to describe a new powerful sexual feeling. Love lasts infatuation doesn’t . This is one way
to help define the difference. Love involves caring and respect. Try to find examples of people you and your teen know who have
loving relationships and compare them to relationships that may be symbiotic, exploitive or abusive. Seeing real life examples of love
can help a teen to know what they are looking for in a relationship.
|Your teen is in an abusive relationship.
Unfortunately this is common in teen relationships. It may not be physical abuse, but in many ways emotional abuse is just as bad.
Although we are often more aware of females who get abused, males are often subjected to emotional abuse by a partner.
Helping someone get out of an abusive relationship is usually very difficult. This is true for adults and teens. Teens are often
confused or completely unaware of what a healthy relationship should look like. If they grew up with parents who did not have a healthy
relationship they may have no clear concept of what is right or wrong in a relationship. You may have to take steps to force your teen's
abusive relationship to end, But trying to force a teen to end a relationship or prevent a teen from seeing an abusive partner can lead
the teen to decide to runaway to be with the partner. If possible point out examples of good relationship among people the teen knows.
Do what you can to get your teen to talk about the relationship. Sometimes when we put things into words we see things about our
lives that we were not conscious of before. Talking may help the teen to start to see clearly the abuse that is going, which may have
been clear to everyone but her or him.
|Your child asks you a personal question about your sex life.
This is one of the big reasons parents dread talking to their kids about sex, fear of being asked personal questions such as: Did you
have sex when you were a teen? Have you had oral sex? How many sex partners have you had? Do you masturbate? Most parents do
not want to answer these kinds of questions. Relax, you don’t have to answer these and you can still provide effective sexuality
education for your children. You can say, “I understand that you are curious but I am going to keep some things private.” Or , “ When
you are older I will share more personal information with you.”
Of course, if you are talking to a teen, the teen is likely to say, “ If you keep things private so can I. So don’t expect me to answer any
personal questions.” This may not go over well with you because you may want your teen to tell you about what goes on in any
relationship they have. So you may say, “Since I am the parent I have more right to privacy than you do. You must tell me who you go
out with and where you go etc.” It is also important to acknowledge that everyone has some right to some privacy, even your teen.