How to Initiate a Sex Talk with Your Kids when You Feel Awkward

Hey Parents,

I know it has been on your mind. You want to talk about sex with your kid, but you feel so awkward that you have avoided it up until now. It makes sense that you feel this way, because you may not have even had someone talk to you about sex. You may be afraid that you don’t know what to say, or you may worry that you don’t have all the facts together. And then there’s the many conflicting messages we all received about sex: it’s feels good, but it’s bad; it’s risky; it’s forbidden; it’s gross; it’s amazing. Where do you even start?

I’m sharing five tips to help you initiate the sex talk, because I want all of us to have better, healthier sex lives. And even if you don’t want your kid to start that healthy sex life now, they are more likely to have a healthy one if/when they do start if you take the time to talk to them. When I say sexual health, I mean it like the World Health Organization means it – safe, positive, respectful, and pleasurable (not just the absence of disease or prevention of unplanned pregnancy) on the emotional, physical, mental, and social levels. Yeah, there are levels to this. This isn’t to help you with the information you will present, but to help you set the stage for sex talks in a way that will allow you both to get the most out of it.

  1. Acknowledge that you may feel awkward, embarrassed, afraid, or confused. This transparency creates vulnerability between you and your kid. They may feel the same way. It lets you both know that you don’t have to be perfect or fully confident to talk about sex. You get to be human.
  2. Inform them that this is not a one time conversation. In fact, be clear that you will have at least two, but really as many as they want or need, conversations about sex. You need at least two to answer any questions they may have that you might want to investigate for yourself.
  3. Maintain a posture of acceptance and love. They may be terrified to ask for any additional information from you, for fear that you will assume something about their sexual lives. They may be nervous about disclosing sexual orientation, for fear that you might disown them. They may feel incredibly self-conscious about sex or enthusiastically curious about sex, but either way your posture of acceptance and love further solidifies that you are their go-to person for this topic. Remember that old saying, “People don’t remember what you said. They remember how you made them feel.” That applies to your kid too. If they remember feeling accepted after telling your about their curiosity about masturbation, that type of acceptance sticks.
  4. Lead with the basics. Topics like CONSENT and RESPECT (being able to say yes or no to sex, and respecting your partner’s yes and no), GENITAL NAMES, and NORMALIZING SEXUAL DESIRE AND CURIOSITY are good basic topics. CONDOM and OTHER CONTRACEPTION USE may come next. There are many topics and questions your kid may have that you haven’t even considered, so be open to answering, but…
  5. Find factual and expert information. There are so many myths about sex and old folklore that we have come to believe simply because we’ve heard it so much. If you are not sure, there is no shame in looking up statistics on reputable websites, reading books about sex, or reaching out to a sex educator or researcher. If your kid asks a question that stumps you (or if you’re curious about something yourself), let them know you’ll find the answer and get back to them, or you can look together. Looking together gives you a good segue into helping them be a good consumer of knowledge.

If you’re seeking a person knowledgeable about sexual health and the dynamics of talking to your kid about sex, I’d love to consult with you. You can go to the bottom of this page to send me a message about potential consultation. Overall, I am excited that you and your kid get to open communication on such an important topic, and I look forward to hearing how you both grow together (awkward or not).

-Dr. Candice Nicole


, by : Dr. Candice Nicole

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