One day when our son got home from school, I had freshly baked cookies. Now these aren’t any normal cookies. These cookies are home-made with the expensive kind of chocolate chips from our family’s all time favorite cookie recipe. They are not machine stirred, but hand stirred. No fake butter called margin is used but cubes of the wholesome fattening butter are used. Our home smells amazing like a delicious cookie bakery. The smell immediately blasts him as he opens the door to come into the kitchen. I tell him “Please, don’t even think about spoiling your dinner. I hid the cookies behind the blue pantry door. You have to wait to eat the cookies until after dinner”. Well, my son is no dummy and he’s bull headed like his mother (me), so he viciously devises a plan to search the kitchen high and low for the key to unlock a delicious sensational freshly made chocolate chip cookies experience. Now to introduce this topic, we all want cookies now don’t we?! I would virtually give you one if that was possible. Lets talk about sex instead:)
Now if you are one of the amazing people out there that has trained their taste buds to hate sugar, this analogy may not mean much to you. Many of us normal taste budders love fresh, hot from the oven, chocolate chip cookies. It is so tempting. And being told you have to wait until dinner seems so impossible with the smell and the thought of cookies. And lastly, it’s locked behind a door? Oh man, now it’s off limits so I just want it even more! This cookie analogy may be a little like what kids or adolescences may feel when talking about intimacy (sex). They may have feelings or may even see something that really intrigues them or generates new feelings. Many kids may feel like they are told over and over again you have to wait until your older or married until you’re sexually active. But many may feel like their questions aren’t really answered or the WHY isn’t really understood about waiting. Or they may feel like it is so off limits to talk about or even think about, it’s behind the locked blue pantry door. Many parents may not know how, when, or even why they should talk about sex with their children.
Why a parent should talk about sex may seem like a really simple common sense question. That’s the amazing act you did to receive the title of parenthood. But road blocks may hinder some parents, you may fall under one of these bullet points:
-I feel awkward talking about it
-My child doesn’t really listen to me. Talking about sex or educating my children about sex doesn’t help at all. (I am so excited to burst that bubble)!
-My kids learn about sex from their health class, so I don’t have to talk about it.
-My parents didn’t really ‘teach’ me about it and I figured things out okay. I don’t need to teach my kids.
-My kids are not old enough
-I already gave my kids the ‘talk’, I’m covered and check it off my list
-My kids really already know everything, we closed that conversation
-If I talk to my kids about sex, I’m afraid they will just go do it or it will give them new ideas
Let’s take a glance at what research tells us
WHAT RESEARCH SAYS
Parents who were taught how and why to teach their teens about sex had a positive punch. Teens reported either waiting to have sex or used contraception because of their parents (Campero, Walker, Atienzo, and Gutierrez, 2011).
Lau and Flores (2010) report that open and quality communication between teens and their parents helps decrease teen pregnancies.
Wilson et al. (2011) report that a parent from Denver stated, “Every time you turn around, everything, everywhere you go it’s around you. They’re selling sex…. Every song you hear on the radio, everything is sex”(p.58). Also, a parent from New York shared, “If you don’t talk to them about sex, the streets will. They’re going to learn all the wrong information” (p. 59).
Mothers who received intervention on how to communicate with their adolescents about sex and AIDS listened to their children more, had a decreased judgmental mentality, asked more open-ended questions, and talked more about sexuality and dating (Lefkowitz and Sigman 2000).
Adolescents wished they would have known about how emotional and complex relationships can be, about sex, and about their own bodies and the opposite genders body (Adams & Williams 2011).
Adolescents also wished they would have known the simple consequences of sex like getting pregnant and the physical desires of attraction that naturally come with maturation and dating (Adams & Williams 2011).
It is important that we talk to our kids about this topic because it is literally at their fingertips. Parents, your role is pivotal, even vital to your children’s sex knowledge and how they make choices about sex. It may be as tempting and delicious to kids as chocolate chip cookies behind the locked blue pantry door. But parents who are involved in their child’s sex knowledge and know the ‘how to talk about sex’ can make all the difference. Our hope is to help unlock that blue pantry door, in a way, to knowledge, to educate old and young about sex. And most importantly to teach parents how to teach their kids about sex.
Adams H. L. & Williams L. R. (2011). What they wish they would have known: Support for
comprehensive sexual education from Mexican American and White adolescents’ dating and sexual desires. Children and Youth Services Review, 33, 1875-1885.
Campero L., Walker D., Atienzo E. E., & Gutierrez J. P. (2011). A quasi-experimental evaluation of parents as sexual health educators resulting in delayed sexual initiation and increased access to condoms. Journal of Adolescence, 34,215-223.
Lau M. & Flores G. (2010) “Everything is bigger in texas, including the latino adolescent pregnancy rate: how do we eliminate the epidemic of latino teen pregnancy?”Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk,1, 1 4http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/
Lefkowitz E. S., & Sigman M. (2000). Helping Mothers Discuss Sexuality and AIDS with Adolescents. Child Development, 71 (5), 1383.
Wilson E. K., Dalberth B. T., Koo H. P. & J. C. Gard. (2011). Parents’ Perspectives on Talking to Preteenage Children About Sex. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2010, 42(1):56–63, doi: 10.1363/420561