How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex


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Did you know that 90% of kids learn about sex for the first time through pornography and that this usually happens by age nine? [i]

With awful stats like these, we should be talking to our kids about sex long before age nine.  

Last week I asked my kids if I told them enough about the facts of life. They said I did OK when they were young but could have told them more as they got older.

Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t ignorant, but because of the world we live in – I should have told them more.

It’s tough trying to balance telling kids the facts of life with telling too much and awakening desires that are better left dormant!

Anyway, my question led to some good conversation with them via text message.

When I was a kid we couldn’t look up stuff online. We had no smart phones. We couldn’t send nude pictures. Porn magazines were hidden under someone’s bed or in a box in their garage.

Reading a book about the facts of life around puberty was about the sum total of our sex education (that and what our friends told us) – and to a large degree it was sufficient.

Not so anymore.

Today’s kids have access to a sex-mad society through the internet, movies, music, Snapchat and Instagram.

We have to talk to them about sex.

We have to talk to them about stuff we don’t feel comfortable talking about – like oral sex, anal sex (sorry), masturbation, and rape.   

And we have to do it earlier than ever before.

Because they will get exposed to it – no matter how protective you are. (Believe me, porn happens in the nicest homes to the nicest people.)

Here are some tips to help you talk to your kids about sex:

  • Be prepared to answer questions. When one of my kids asked me a direct question about sex, my first reaction was to shut it down. But long before that I had decided to be open and honest about sex with my kids so I took the plunge and answered the question simply and honestly.

Some kids ask questions, others don’t. You may need to create an opportunity for questions so that the shy child can learn. Assure your kids that you are willing to answer any questions they may have.  

  • Only talk about what they ask about, when they ask. Tell only as much as is necessary for your child’s understanding right then or that answers their immediate question. This is a general rule that I’m not sure you should stick to because of our sex-driven society. So use this one with discretion.
  • Use correct names for body parts from the time your kids are small. Learn to be comfortable with the names yourself. If your kids learn the proper names from the start then there need be no embarrassment or awkwardness about private parts.  
  • Make a point of not being awkward when talking about sex. Be matter of fact. Let your kids know you are not a prude (shocked by sexuality or nudity) and that they can ask you any question they might have.
  • Talk early and often. You don’t have to fit everything into one conversation. Allow natural conversations to happen and don’t force your kids to continue when you see their interest has waned. Use learning moments wisely.  
  • Talk about age-appropriate stuff. When your kids are young talk about the differences between girls and boys, and that God gave you private parts for healthy bodily functions and for making babies – not for playing with.

Teach them from young that nobody is allowed to touch their private parts and they should say ‘no’ if someone tries to.

As they get older explain sex simply, “A man and a woman love each other so much that they put their bodies together and make a baby.”   

And later, “A man’s penis gets stiff and he puts it inside his wife’s vagina. Sperm comes out of his penis and it swims and meets up with an egg in the Mommy’s body and it grows into a baby.”

Talk about the changes they can expect in their bodies at puberty, masturbation, the dangers of pornography, why they should not send nude pictures, consent and saying no, and what rape is.

Talking to your kids about sex may be taboo for you, but do them a favour and get over your discomfort.

We have to do better than what some people got: “Remember where you come from. Keep your zip closed, boy,” or, “Don’t have sex because you could have a baby.”

Like me, you may not get it perfect, but do your best to give your kids a healthy understanding of sex before the world throws its smut at them.

What did your sex education consist of? How are you handling this with your own kids? How can we do this job better?  


[i] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-stories-we-tell-ourselves/201610/how-and-when-talk-your-kids-about-sex

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

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