While no parent relishes the thought of their ‘little angel’ engaged in any kind of sexual activity, trying to shield your child from the facts of life won’t stop them from being interested in the opposite sex. In fact, it’s a good idea to broach the subject long before they do start to swoon over the school heartthrob, otherwise they’ll only pick up the wrong information from their friends.
Eight or nine is a good age to bring up the topic, although you’ll need to tailor the conversation to suit their maturity level. Openly discussing the facts of life will not only provide your child with the correct information, it will send out the message that you’re always there to confide in.
Many parents dread having the sex talk, for fear their children will ask awkward questions. If you feel this way, it’s okay to be honest. Say ‘This might feel a little awkward, but I really want us to find a way to talk about these kinds of things. And if you have any questions I can’t answer, we’ll find the answers together.’
During the conversation, you should talk about the practical aspects of sex, such as the parts of the body involved as well as contraception, but also about what is involved in sexual relationships, such as trust, love, and responsibility.
You might also want to explore dating, and talk about the time it takes to really get to know somebody (this helps counter the message that the media often sends about jumping from a first or second date into a sexual relationship).
Girls in particular should be taught that it’s fine to say no to sex, while boys should be brought up to respect this. Wherever your chat takes you, the main thing is the conversation is two-sided so your child can raise any concerns and hit you with those awkward questions.