Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms takes your questions, gives advice and shares solutions. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with this question:
Talking about sex with your children, when, why and how?
Jan Katz: After being raised in a sisters-only household with a 50s Mom who wouldn’t touch the subject with a 10-foot pole, I vowed to be different with my own children. Actually she did try to have that talk with us once when we were in college; we burst out laughing.
When my son was born, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to talk about it properly from a male standpoint. However, I knew I had many years before I had to approach that subject—I was dead wrong.
One night when my son was three, I gave him a bath. All of sudden he squealed and said, “Mommy, look at this! “ Trying to maintain a straight face and not knowing exactly what was appropriate to tell him at that age, I gave him the name of his private part. Not being satisfied, he asked, “Do you have one?” I said, "No." He asked me about his two girl cousins: another no. When he asked if “Pops” had one, I told him, "Yes,” and with an expression of great relief he said ”Whew!"
For the next few weeks, to my horror, the first thing he would say to anyone who crossed his path was “Whatcha got?” If he saw a male dog, horse or basically anything that moved, he would point it out to anyone who would listen. He was fascinated. So, ready or not, I had to do much more explaining than I wanted to. And he has felt totally free to discuss his private parts ever since.
We never had “The Talk”. It was a long series of small talks about choices, respect for women and the lifelong personal and financial consequences of making the wrong choice. He knows about birth control. He knows about STDs. I’ve explained to him that all of his dreams of going away to college, traveling the world and the possibility of playing professional ball would be over in a flash if he makes the wrong choice.
At 16, he is full of testosterone, noticing girls and headed for danger. While he socializes in groups not dates, I know the real dates are coming soon. Realistically, I know that no matter what I say he will most likely want to experiment at some point. I may not be the first person he runs and tells, but I’m comforted a little by knowing he has all the tools to make the right choices. And God forbid he makes the wrong choice, he knows I love him unconditionally, mistakes and all.
Kim Koch: Remembering back, I recall learning about sex between two consenting adults at a young age. In saying this, I also knew I would teach about love, intimacy and sexual activity much differently than how I learned.
Human nature is real and is taught and emerges differently in each of us. When my son was eight, I heard his feet hit the floor and head to the bathroom like every morning, but there was no familiar sound of a good morning potty. Instead he kept repeating, “Oh man, Oh man, Oh man.”
He ran into my room where his Dad and I had already enjoyed our morning coffee and were trying to catch a couple extra minutes of sleep. I turned and he was standing there in his Toy Story pajamas, pointing “there” asking me, “Mom, what is this?”
My first instinct was to tell my son, “Go play your video game, and don’t think about it.” He ran off and yelled back to me, “Mom it worked, it went away.” I knew the time was coming to tell him more than just the differences in boys and girls and the potential of stranger danger.
Middle school came around, and the girls were so ready to give away something that they weren’t even quite sure was. In the car seemed to be the best time to talk with him. We have always had an open dialogue, no matter how uncomfortable the other is with the conversation. There are times I thought one of us may just bail from the moving vehicle.
In 7th grade, one of his peers gave birth at school in the restroom. Our talks became more in depth. He and the other students in the school felt the reality of the action impact a fellow classmate. He carried an abstinence card in his wallet. In 9th grade, he was given a condom in health class that he threw out due to it being so dog eared and abused from riding in his wallet.
I have always had literature around to read together, explaining age appropriate body changes, sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy, birth control, abstinence and other issues that really need to be taught at home and not just in government led sex education classes.
Always try and answer questions as honestly as you can, use appropriate books and your own words in the right ways through the ages and stages. Let them know there is no self respect in giving themselves away to the wrong person at the wrong time.