Many parents wonder what is the appropriate age and a way to talk to their children about sex. They worry about repeating the awkward conversation they once had with their parents. Good news: it doesn’t need to be awkward at all!

Firstly, it’s never too late or too early to talk your children about relationships, love and sex. Children get curious about those topics at different times of their development and it’s important for the parent to be open to their curiosity. It very much normalises the topic rather than unconsciously inflicts shame or secrecy.

The only thing to remember here is vocabulary. It should be appropriate to your child’s age to avoid confusions or misunderstandings. It’s best to observe what vocabulary your child may already have and then mirror this as much as possible. It worth noting that for a child words like breasts, penis and vagina are simply words for different body parts; just as ear, arm and foot.

More often than not, listening is more import than talking. Therefore, exploring your child’s thoughts and what they imagine is the answer to their question is rather crucial before we start “educating them”. Children may already have some fantasy about the topic of sex or love and learning where their thoughts are coming from may be very informative as to how we do and don’t approach those subjects at home.

I’m of the view that it’s useful to start a conversation about love and relationships rather than the “practicalities of sex”. It simply reinforces the idea that sex and intimacy tend to be a result of the former rather than the other way around. Talking openly about emotions between people proves to be one of the most important things as it, almost naturally, invites the topic of sex as something that people tend to engage with to express their feelings (often those of love, but also of care, passion and desire).

Lastly, if you want to help your child to understand the topics of intimacy and sex: educate yourself before you’ll begin to educate them! We are still living in a heteronormative society. Often, without intending to, we may imply certain conscious or unconscious beliefs we carry about sex (often influenced by our family, school, culture, religion, etc.). In order to really know your child, it’s important to let them know that they have options to be who they are and to love whomever they wish.  When they feel accepted and cared for, there is no topic that may become an awkward taboo.

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