Let’s talk to our toddlers about sex.
Sex is a physical act, like blowing your nose or going to the toilet. We’ve made it into something that represents shame, guilt and sin. It’s fantastically intimate. We all do it, some of us even enjoy it, but it would seem, that only a few of us are brave enough to talk about it. G-D forbid WE talk to our children about sex. We’d much rather some ill informed child or porn movie do that for us.
I know that talking about sex is extremely uncomfortable for some and when it comes to our children – almost impossible. I’ve started asking why and the most common answer I get is –“In my culture, we did not talk about sex when we were growing up!”
So how’s that working for you? And why would you want the same for your child?
Do you really want your child learning about sex from porn movies or from some horny little boy who has convinced your daughter that she loves him because she doesn’t understand the biology of her body?
This ignorance and shame all starts at the very beginning. Did you know that there is evidence that a fetus touches its’ genitals. When they are born this continues and this is where it gets complicated. We smack their hands, we shame them and we tell them they are dirty. We can teach our children to use a toilet but we cannot explain that feeling genitals is lovely but should be done in the privacy of the bedroom. That it is normal.
Sex should be normalized from day 1.
Talk about genitals as body parts. It’s a penis, testicles, anus, vagina, clitoris. Just like your nose, eyes and ears. The minute you call it a ‘machine gun’ or ‘flower’ you have subconsciously told your child that this body part is something that is too difficult to name properly. Why not just call it a penis or a vagina and tell your child that these body parts are theirs and special, should be honored and only shared when they are emotionally ready. This conversation does not happen all at the same time – it’s a bit like building blocks, you start with proper names.
Children trust their parents. Why would you lie to them? To protect them comes to mind, but how does lying about sex protect them in any way? They are going to find out what it is and how it’s done and when they do, if you have told them anything else but the truth – you lied! And sex takes on another layer of shame and guilt.
Another argument I hear frequently is – ‘If they know they will go out and try it’. Really? How does real knowledge about sex, encourage having sex. I’d argue that is exactly the opposite.
And if you think they don’t know about sex you are sadly mistaken. If they have access to television, the radio, the internet, mix with other children or have a smart phone – they know everything they shouldn’t know about sex. Google images – type in porn and see what comes up (in more ways than one). Let us assume that your angel would never Google porn, let’s say that they are doing a school project and need an innocent picture of a black couple or a mixed couple (I use this as an example because it happened to me) and see what you find. I almost fell out of bed.
How many times have you heard the news refer to rape? How many times have you heard any program talk about the beauty and sacredness of sex? And don’t even get me going about the sex education happening at schools!
Schools first have to get permission from you, the parent to talk to your children about sex. They have to bring the slip to you to sign or not and then they are taught about eggs and sperm, contraception and straight into pregnancy and disease. They even talk about rape, each lesson with the express message that sex should be avoided.
Except children are curious and experimental and they want to know what all the secrecy is about. They want to know why their parents feel the need to lie about it. And if this isn’t enough to convince you to talk to your children about their genitals and sex in the most open and honest way – think about this – Children are having their first sexual encounter (it may not be full penetration) at the age of 9!
So let’s not talk about sex in real terms, let’s not educate our daughters about the difference between lust and love, let’s continue letting them find out about sex in all the wrong places. Or we could tell them how beautiful and sacred their bodies are. Encourage them to discover what their bodies are capable of on their own, so they know what those feelings are and do not confuse them with love. Above all encourage them to wait until they are emotionally ready to share their body with someone else on their own terms.
If you are unsure how to start the conversation with your child (or your partner) there are some fabulous courses on how to talk to your child in an age appropriate way. If you’re interested email me and I’ll send you the details. firstname.lastname@example.org