The how, when, and why of talking to your kids about sex (PART 1)


Did you know that research indicates that having continued, frequent mini-conversations with your kids about sex and sexuality is the #1 factor in maintaining a close relationship with them through adolescence?

One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to be a safe place for folks to process their own experiences, questions, wounds, shame and discoveries about all of life, including sexuality. But I don’t want to be the anomaly...I’m not interested in cultivating a world where places of safety are few and far between. I’d rather invest in supporting families to navigate the realms of sexuality more openly and comfortably. I’d rather equip parents to become conversant with their kids in such a way that they become a safe place for their kids to turn when they are processing mixed messages, exploring the inevitable curiosities, developing their own stories, or seeking embrace after negative and confusing encounters in a society that has a very, very convoluted relationship with sex.

As a consequence of this very, very convoluted relationship our culture has with sex, many of us have been unwittingly trained to keep these curiosities and conversations in the dark. And we (again, unwittingly) train our kids to become duplicitous…to present one face while stuffing all of the uncomfortable curiosities, conversations and behaviors into a “behind the scenes” place. Friends, it’s in this hidden “behind the scenes” place that shame THRIVES.

So, what does it look like to bring this conversation into the light by being proactively involved with instilling a healthy and informed understanding of sex and sexuality into our kids? Below are some tips about how to create an environment where your family feels comfortable talking about sex and sexuality in a way that promotes informed respect and confidence. My hope is that this list would simply serve as a springboard, leading to many, many conversations within your family about these important issues.

  • 10 is the new 16! It is important to establish a relationship where parents are approachable on all matters sexual BEFORE our kids reach adolescence, and the voices of their peers and the media become so much more influential!

  • Welcome curiosity! It is natural for kids to be curious, and they are likely already wondering about far more than we give them credit for. Encourage this curiosity by validating their questions, talking to them naturally about these topics (even if you are freaking out a little on the inside!), and using clear, medical language to talk about our bodies, sexuality, and sex.

  • It is empowering for our kids to be informed when interacting with the things their peers say are true. Equip your kids to handle the volumes of information (and mis-information) that they will be exposed to, by being proactive to establish a healthy foundation of knowledge…and a safe place to go when they receive confusing messages!

  • Undergird EVERY conversation about sex, gender, sexuality and relationships with the importance of RESPECT—for self and for others!

  • Do business with your own stories so that you are free to support your kids as they develop theirs. The biggest reason that parents drop the ball in equipping our kids with confidence and respect, is our own shame or lack of confidence. Welcome the process of your own growth so that you can empower your kids’ growth!

Please contact me if I can support your family as you seek to navigate this territory!

*I’m following up with a post of resources, but this book is a great place to start if you would like to be more intentional in talking to your kids: What Your Child Needs to Know About Sex (And When): A straight-talking guide for parents, by Dr. Fred Kaiser.

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RACHEL PELANDER, MA LMFT  

rachel@hopewellcounseling.org

206.773.3724

*Photography of Rachel and her office by Alyssa Reeve

| Hopewell Counseling

The Orion Building

2743 California Ave SW, Ste 301   Seattle, WA 98116

 

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