If you listen to or watch any talk shows, the topic of discussing sex with your kids will come up. There are a lot of schools of thought on this – one is to start discussing the facts early in age-appropriate language that they can relate to. The other is to wait until they ask a question, to answer that question only, and wait until they ask the next one.
That’s all well and good, if you have time to research online, go to the library, talk to the pastor, and be armed and ready for the Big Talk.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Ask the parents who had to explain why two grown-a#@ people were having sex in a FAMILY pool in Connorsville, Indiana.
Whether your children are young like mine – eight and nine – or young teens, actually seeing the act up close and personal has got to have an impact. Hopefully, they weren’t on hand for this pool time “show,” but at some point, they will walk in on you and your mate, get a glimpse of an adult film or over hear a discussion between sexually precocious teenage cousins that will warrant your attention.
According to one expert, when a child “catches” his parents in the act, the parents should react calmly (Yeah, right!) then should say, matter of factly, “We are having some private time together; please leave and close the door.” The sooner your children learn that sex between two adult individuals is normal and healthy, the sooner they’ll be able to appreciate that is something special, not nasty and – more importantly – not for random use with random people.
I know a mom who explained to her pre-teen children that Saturdays were reserved for her and their dad. “Get your breakfast, watch TV, play video games, do whatever you want. Just don’t knock on our door.”
When kids get The Talk from their peers or older friends and family members, your best defense for them is to ensure that they already know enough so they won’t be intrigued by hearing about it from others. Teach them to say, “My parents already went over this with us, but I’ll ask them if they want to talk to you about it.” That should bring the discussion to a halt.
Finally, stumbling upon strangers engaging in overzealous public displays of affection like the couple in Indiana is actually a teachable moment. Aside from it being unsanitary, you can open the door to all kinds of conversations, depending on the age of your child. If they’re under 10, it may be best just to say, “That shouldn’t be happening in public, should it?” And leave it at that, unless they have more questions.
I have a few myself, considering that witnesses say they were going at it for 30 minutes. The first one is simply: Really? In pool water? The second one is: Who stuck around 30 minutes to watch?
Anyway, if your kids are older, you can talk about its inappropriateness, safe sex, exhibitionism and more. The more they know about your feelings and values, the more prepared they’ll be to handle sexual situations. Having The Talk early may not be as uncomfortable as dealing with the consequences later.
Here are 10 tips to assist you (and shortly, me) in having The Talk:
1. Use teachable moments to discuss sex.
2. Weave the discussion into life experiences related to sex — as you and your children view situations on television or when they share with you something they learned in school.
3. Ask them questions about something they’ve seen on TV, in the movies, in magazines or heard from friends. For instance, if a plot from their favorite television show includes a couple having sex, ask them how they feel about this scene? Do they think the couple is a role model? In real life, what do they think this couple might experience — pregnancy, an STD, hurt feelings?
4. Talk honestly about love, sex and relationships.
5, Do not permit your child to date at a young age, and discourage them from having a relationship with anyone older than they are. The hard fact is that in every state, having sexual relations with anyone under the age of consent is against the law.
6. Help your children handle powerful feelings, such as love, in a safe way. Give them an example of how you may have felt at their age. Discourage them from having sexual relationships. If you believe your child is sexually active, accompany them to visit a healthcare professional, one who agrees with your viewpoints and values and encourages teens not to have sex.
7. Encourage children to remain connected with family, school and community. Spend time with your kids. Kids who are connected to their family are much less likely to have sex.
8. Suggest they get involved in sports, arts or helping others. Discourage early, frequent and steady dating; instead, encourage group activities. Kids involved in school activities are less likely to engage in sex.
9. Encourage young people to avoid alcohol, drugs and other risky behaviors. Being sober helps protect them from compromising or dangerous situations that they may later regret. Let your children know that if they go to a party and drugs/alcohol are present, they should call you to come pick them up.
10. Emphasize with kids that sexual abuse is wrong and should be reported. Tell them that sexual abuse is when sex occurs without your permission, even if it is with someone you know, including a boyfriend.
Bottom line: Keep the lines of communication open, and be consistent with your message.
If you’ve already been where I’m going, let me know what questions your kids have about sex and whether you answered them openly and honestly. I’d love to hear from you – unless you were one of the people having sex in that pool.
Nikki Woods is senior producer of “The Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The author of “Easier Said Than Done,” the Dallas-based Woods is currently working on her second and third novels. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @nikkiwoods.