Let's Talk About Sex

Question: My kids are getting to be that age. How and when do I need to start talking to them about sex?
-mother of 4

We live in an over sexualized society. There is sex on TV, in the arts, in the movies and even talk of it on the elementary school bus. I personally have written to my local news channel twice because they have shown unnecessary, provocative photos on the 6:00 news (while saying how horrible the picture was that had been texted back and forth amongst middle school kids- HELLO??!! You just showed it on the news!!!!) Our children become familiar with sexuality at a really young age. Maybe I am a bit old fashioned, but I think our society has taken this amazing and beautiful thing and turned it into something that is at best cheap and at worst dirty and hurtful. I would like my children to be able to share this experience with one person (their spouse- call me old fashioned if you’d like), who they cherish and love, and are able to receive the full, amazing effect that it can have between a loving, married couple.

So, let’s start with when. Think about the age you think it is appropriate to talk to your child (every child will be different based on their level of maturity) and then start 2-3 years sooner. You want to be the first person to talk to them; before they hear it at school, on TV or from their friend’s big brother. The goal is so that they are completely comfortable talking to you so that when they do hear something, you will be the person they ask. If you are uncomfortable talking to them, they will be uncomfortable talking to you. If you have to, stand in front of the mirror and give yourself “the talk” a couple of times.
I actually sat my 8 year old down and gave him a more in depth conversation about the mechanics of the birds and the bees lately and realized that I had waited a bit too long. He was already uncomfortable talking to me. But, I plugged through, determined to fix the situation. In the course of our conversation, my 5 year old plopped down next to us and I had a decision to make: do I keep talking and let my 5 year old hear, or do I stop, thus teaching each of them that it is a taboo subject. So, I kept going. I was amazed that my 5 year was completely comfortable talking with me about sex. He was still young enough not to know that most people were embarrassed talking about this. So, for my 5 year, he was not too young to hear of the mechanics of sex, and with my 8 year old, I had waited too long.

Now, to the how. You need to talk to them in phases. With all of our kids, we sat down with them on a regular basis starting at 3ish and told them about good and bad touches and private parts. Use correct terminology; they need to know it’s called a penis and a vagina. Show them basic pictures of male and female anatomy. (I’m happy to send links if you’d like) and let them know that NO ONE has a right to touch there if they don’t want them to and that only certain people, at certain times can touch them there with Mom or Dad’s permission.
I was afraid that if I began talking to my kids about sex too early that it would awaken in them a sexuality that had not yet been awakened. So- don’t sexualize sex. They can know quite young the mechanics of how babies are made and then it can be left at that for a while. They don’t have to know about orgasms or oral sex, etc for quite some time. My kids know at 8 and 5 that the penis enters a vagina and delivers the sperm which penetrates that egg and voila! A baby can come. We used pictures from a children’s encyclopedia to explain the process. As time goes by, we’ll move on to the next steps; theoretically before they hear it from their friends. My kids know this is a family subject and that they should not talk about it with people outside of their family. But, still, you should be prepared to be embarrassed- just in case they tell their Sunday School teacher or babysitter.

Bottom line: If you are asking these questions- NOW it the time to start the talk with your kid(s). How old and mature they (and you) are will depend on how much you tell them now. But, they are smart kids and they have a right to hear it from you. Being the first to give your kids this information also gives you a chance to shape your children’s attitudes about sex. For our family, this means teaching that sex is something special and loving, never something to be taken lightly or done casually.

Whaddya think?


  1. Good post. I like your approach.

  2. I've researched many how to teach your child about sex books. Here's my favorites. How to talk to your child about sex by Linda and Richard Eyre and Growing Up by Brad Wilcox. They are both Christian based books.