Family Sexuality Education Month: Time for ‘the talk?' | Amy Johnson

October is National Family Sexuality Education Month, so now is a good time for a check up on where you are in your family regarding this topic that makes many parents blush. Here are some common questions parents ask about sex ed.

When is the right time to have “the talk” with my child?

Instead of thinking about “the talk,” think about a series of conversations you’ll have with your child over his or her lifetime.

How do I start?

When your child is very young, teach him or her correct names for genitalia, such as penis, testicle, vulva, vagina, breast and anus. When they are curious about where babies come from, introduce the term uterus.

Isn’t it that too much information for a young child?

Children are naturally curious, and during the toddler and preschool years, they often have a natural and uninhibited curiosity about bodies, parts and functions. Just answer questions in simple terms and wait to see if your child is satisfied. If they continue to ask, continue to clarify. One example might be:

Child: Mom, where do babies come from?

Mom: From a mom and a dad.

Child: How?

Mom: Well, a mom has a part and a dad has a part and when they come together, they make a baby.

You get the picture. The more they ask, the more you answer. One step at a time.

OK, we didn’t do that, and now my child is getting close to puberty. What do I do?

There are many resources available for parents to discuss puberty and sexuality with their children. Check out for some ideas. Always preview the material before sharing it with your child. Remember that it will be much less scary and uncomfortable for your child if he or she knows what to expect than if changes are a surprise.

I don’t feel comfortable talking about sex with my preteen.

Many parents don’t, but we really need to do it anyway. Check out some of the great tools at The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy for parents. And remember, once your child hits middle school, if not before, they are going to hear it all from their peers and the media — stuff about masturbation, oral sex, pregnancy, AIDS, STDs, same-sex relationships. This information is likely to be full of misinformation. Don’t you want your child to have full and accurate information from a trusted adult like you? With your values added to the conversation? Take a breath, make some time, and start talking.

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