When & how to have the sex talk with your kids

Like many Latinas, I never really got the sex talk from my parents until days before my wedding. Prior to that day, our talk focused solely on abstinence before marriage. We never discussed what sex, or more specifically intercourse, really meant and what acceptable behavior was. There was no discussion around having protected sex to avoid getting pregnant or sexually transmitted diseases. I learned about sex and formed my opinions through friends, health education class in high school and by experimenting with a boyfriend I dated for nearly four years.

In sharp contrast to my experience, I had my first open discussion about sex with my daughter when she was 10 years old. It was inevitable. 

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I had just attended a session at my daughter's middle school on how to talk to kids about sex. A psychologist spoke about the importance of having parents (and not peers) help kids develop healthy attitudes towards their bodies, relationships and sex. She spoke about the need to provide guidance around moral values and principles that we'd want our kids to follow. 

Another expert spoke about the importance of providing factual and accurate information. The psychologist explained that the sex talk and what to say would be prompted by our children's questions. She said that we should consistently talk about love and relationships whenever these subjects came up.

So when later that week my daughter asked what having sex with a boy meant, I knew it was time to have the talk. I followed the psychologist's advice and asked probing questions to find out just how much she knew. It took be a whole night to learn that a 13-year-old boy had sent her a note asking her to have sex with him! 

That night I told her that having sex was a way for people to show their love.  Based on her responses, I knew that she was ready for a very basic sex talk.  The following day I read a book about sex that started with the birds and the bees and ended with two people in bed having sex (nothing too graphic).

My talks with my daughter and son have been consistent and have evolved as they've become young adults, but I continue to have open discussions. Now that my daughter is in college, the discussions are more focused on acceptable sexual and moral behavior as she knows all about the consequences of having unprotected sex.

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Topics: sex talk  parenting advice