It’s the time of year in our school district that all fifth graders will begin a unit on human reproduction and development.
And this year I have a fifth grader. A bright, energetic, social fifth grade girl who wants to spend her time listening to her favorite songs on the radio, reading and rereading her favorite books, and spending time with her best friend. The last thing on her mind is human reproduction (aka sex). So I have to wonder. Why am I getting ready to have this conversation with her if she has not even expressed an interest in the subject? Am I trying to get my two cents in before the school does? Am I trying to preempt any “mis”information that may be given to her by her peers? What is my parenting goal in relation to this discussion?
After a few minutes of searching for answers to these questions mentally, I decide that I am merely going to begin a dialogue with my “tween” daughter that I hope will continue as long as necessary. I would like for my daughter to feel comfortable asking myself or her father when she has questions about sex as she matures and develops into a young lady.
But before sitting down with her I stop to get some advice from the “experts”. One of the places I look is the AACP website. An article titled “Talking to Your Kids About Sex” outlines the various ways a discussion about sex may sound at different stages of child development. The author suggests that parents discuss only what the child is asking and is ready to understand, taking into account their age and maturity. No more and no less. Additionally, the article lists the following tips for talking with your child about sex:
- Encourage your child to talk and ask questions.
- Maintain a calm and non-critical atmosphere for discussions.
- Use words that are understandable and comfortable.
- Try to determine your child’s level of knowledge and understanding.
- Keep your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to talk about your own discomfort.
- Relate sex to love, intimacy, caring, and respect for oneself and one’s partner.
- Be open in sharing your values and concerns.
- Discuss the importance of responsibility for choices and decisions.
- Help your child to consider the pros and cons of choices.
So now I am armed with confidence, tips, and a few good books recommended by close friends with older children. I plop down in a chair in her room, while she eagerly looks up at me with innocent 10-year-old eyes.
Let’s talk about sex…