Talk about Sex

It's more than the fireworks 
and they aren't waiting until they are Independent. 

Talk about sex (and drugs) with your kids and do it often. 
Not just teenagers and I'm not referring to the once or twice in a lifetime talk about the birds & bees, puberty or using condoms. I'm talking about a conversation that spans over a decade that includes your values and thoughts regarding relationships. 

1. Start now. Preschool is the beginning of internalizing relationship values. You are their model for how to act in relationships. Children cannot separate how you treat and talk to your child's other parent with how you feel about them. For them, it's all personal and it's all about them. You are always modeling your relationships values, and it's important to talk about them throughout their life. Help them assess what traits are important in a friend and why. This will help them in the dating years to make those assessments as well. 

2. Safety. Teaching a child that "They are the boss of their body"* and how to say no, doesn't end in preschool or with strangers.  It needs be to continually retaught and reinforced. In elementary school they need to know how to say no to uncomfortable peer pressure with body exploration. In middle school and high school they need to have the internal strength to say no to a handsome or beautiful person offering a blow job or wanting to kiss them and then take it further. They need to know that they are most likely to be taken advantage of when drinking or high. They need to know it's OK to say no. That being true to themselves is more important than temporary popularity. These tough situations happen when they are not expected and your child won't be prepared if you are not talking with them about it.  

I highly recommend *Feather Berkower's workshop and book on child and body safety. I wish every parent and teacher (of all ages) would take her educational and thought provoking class and teach the 10 safety rules.  See

  3. Teach children there is a continuum of relationship and sexual behaviors, over time. Like it or not, the media is the most influential educator of relationships and sex our children are exposed to; both directly and indirectly through peers. In the media, relationships seem to go from 'a look' to kissing, to sex. 
I work with teens that are surprised to consider that there are a lot of behaviors between 'that look', and kissing and sex.  There is also conversations, hanging out, holding hands, group dates, single dates, kissing and much more.  
They are also surprised at the thought of putting time between these behaviors. How long do you want to know someone before you move to the next step? What kind of a person do you want to move forward with, hang out, date, kiss?  

If you don't talk with your children about these things, the media will continue to be their primary teacher and chances are higher that it Will go from 'that look' at a party, (perhaps while experimenting with drugs) to sexual behavior. Where will your child have the strength and values to say no, or no more.  

4. Listen. Don't lecture and 'talk at' as you discuss things. When the kids feel heard and can explore their own ideas they will be more open, honest and also more receptive to what you have to teach them.  Shaming and/or blaming them will backfire and lower their self-esteem and ability to say no when needed. You will Not be there when they make these important choices. Listen and find out what They are thinking they will do.  

These types of sensitive topics are often things kids hunger for someone to talk about with, but our society shies away from them, leaving them to the media and peers. Talk with your kids about sex (relationships). It's important. 

5. Other related conversations topics.
* How we treat people
* Character
* Personal Space & Boundaries with your Body
* Media Perspectives & Your Perspectives
* What are Healthy/ Unhealthy Relationships? 
* Friendships, Buddies, Dating, Romantic Relationships
* Feelings, Attraction, Obsession
* Reality vs Fantasy
* Sexting, Internet, Chat-rooms & more
* Influence of Alcohol & Drugs on Sexual Behavior
* Peer Pressure & expectations from both, same sex and opposite sex acquaintances
* Gossip, bragging, lying, reputation, repercussions
* Self-confidence, worth, goals, dreams & hopes vs temporary, immediate approval

Most of these conversation topic ideas come from the book "Ten Talks Parents must Have with their Children About Sex & Character."

It's painfully hard as parents to realize that our children are their own person and will make their own decisions without us. The best we can do may be to have the ongoing conversations that will teach them so they will be able to make better decisions, and when they make mistakes they feel they can still come to us and get help fixing them.   
Wishing you the best on this challenging adventure of parenthood. There's nothing like it.