This article outlines some practical advice for parents about speaking with a preteen about sex. It is written to assist parents with deciding what to tell and not to tell their preteen.
Talking about sex to preteens should start as your child begins to reach this age. Somewhere around eight or nine, most children will begin to encounter sexual talk at school. Students will be hearing it from older brothers, sisters, and neighbors. This information will then filter into the school house where your little angel will encounter it whether it is desired or not. As a parent, it is important that this type of sexual information be imparted by you. This will help make sure that what is heard is accurate and reflects your values at the same time.
Start your preparation for this talk by informing yourself regarding the materials available to make the talk simple, informative, and stress free. Many good books and guides are on the bookshelves for sale on this topic. If you are uncomfortable with looking in a secular books store because of those books having a poor moral foundation, most religious book stores have entered this market. Feel free to shop these stores until you find the material that has the right feel for your needs.
Some parents like pictures included in the materials and some do not. It is not really too important which way you lean on this, but drawings that are correctly done can be helpful when explaining the physical changes of puberty to youngsters. Avoid material that shows explicit sexual scenes. This can work against any moral training that you want to include for your preteen. Explicit sexual teaching can come later in the teen years if that is what you want to do.
Sex for preteens is really best discussed in the beginning from the perspective of physical changes. This includes hair growing in new places, changes in physical appearance, and the development of gender specific organs. Following this training, a parent may choose to move into the area of discussing in general terms how babies come into the world. Instruction about the meaning of love and physical attraction may be introduced, but do not make too much of it at this point. It is really better understood as young people move into their teen years and begin to feel the stirrings of infatuation and sexual interest.
Try not to dump all of the information on your child in a single sitting. Make this a weekly effort. Spend an hour or two each week at a set time with your child covering this material. This way your child will have time to digest what has been said and may have questions that can help shape the next meeting time. Always keep your preteen informed that questions may be asked and any time. You may choose to answer the question right then or wait for the next meeting depending on your comfort level and the content of the question.
Use some of this time to instruct your preteen about right and wrong touching. Tell your child the correct response if he or she becomes a victim of improper sexual conduct. This will build up self-esteem and help your child to confide if such activity occurs.
You may want to suggest to your child that it is best to not run about sharing this information with everyone that he or she meets. Along with this, encourage the preteen to not try to build a base of accurate knowledge from his or her associates. As you move forward with the training, your preteen will become more and more comfortable and open in these discussions, and you should too. This type of early training will teach your preteen that sex itself is not dirty or wrong. With good moral training along with this, your preteen should develop a healthy outlook regarding sex.
Published in: Family