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Getting Beyond “The Talk”

It’s the dreadful memory that many adults have embedded in their brains ….the day mom or dad sat them down to have “The Talk”.  This ghastly rite of passage has unnerved generations for centuries.   The topic of sex or “the birds and the bees” is as old as time, but for some reason, our culture has turned it into something that sends countless kids running and screaming from the room!

As parents, we may not have the power to change the deep-rooted taboos of an entire culture, but we can aspire to be the generation that finally learns how to stop having an awkward conversation that makes kids want to vomit!  Believe it or not, this starts with no longer having “The Talk”.  No more “once and done (pheww, glad that’s over with) conversations”.

The topic of sexuality needs to be an ongoing conversation that starts from the day a child is born.  Sadly, we often confuse sexuality for sexual intercourse.  Instead, sexuality is about much more.  It is about our identity as males and females, how we view our bodies, how we view our relationships with others, our values, how we change and grow over the years and how we reproduce.  However, how do parents have this ongoing conversation without overwhelming themselves or their children?

The Talk to your Kids campaign offers a timeline of developmentally appropriate topics to discuss at every stage of childhood.  Some suggestions include:

0-2 years old

  • Role model healthy relationships (love, safety and trust).
  • Use correct terms for all body parts.

3-5 years old

  • Be ready to give a simple description of where babies come from (ie: a sperm meets an egg, babies grow in the uterus and are born through the vagina).
  • Teach them about appropriate touch- how to say no to unwanted touches and talk to a trusted adult about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

6-8 years old

  • Be ready for a more complex description about reproduction (how did the sperm and the egg meet?)
  • Explain puberty and what to expect.
  • Encourage open communication in the family and promote a healthy body image.

9-12 years old

  • Explain body changes that will happen or are happening during puberty.
  • Use teachable moments to open discussions. For example, use stories or popular media to talk about what is or isn’t a healthy relationship.
  • Share your family’s expectations and values about dating.

13-18 years old

  • Talk about the benefits of delaying sexual activity.
  • Discuss birth control and sexually transmitted diseases and where to access these healthcare services.
  • Discuss mutual consent and continue the discussion that healthy relationships are those built on trust and equal power.

 

As part of “Let’s Talk Month”, the Lebanon County Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Support Network encourages you to learn more about how to have a continued conversation about sexuality by visiting our website at www.communityhealthcouncil.com.

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