If there’s one thing both teens and their parents dread, it’s The Talk. The one about the birds and the bees. Today on Think, Krys Boyd asked a pair of local experts in teen sexuality about how parents can effectively talk to their kids about sex.
How early should moms and dads plan The Talk?
Mandy Golman of Texas Woman’s University tells parents of pre-schoolers that they should at least be thinking about the message they want their kids to hear.
“I tell parents right then and there, ‘You better start thinking about your family values and the messaging that you want to be giving your kids," she says. "Because they’re going to be getting it for their entire lifetime, and you want yours to be the strongest. You want yours to be the ones that they hear, and you need to start formulating those now.”
Ideally, the talk is never just one talk. It’s an evolving series of conversations, says Joanna Gentsch, who teaches human sexuality at the University of Texas at Dallas.
“Parents need to be sensitive to the child’s stage and age and how they’re responding to the feedback they’re getting," she says. "That’s knowing your child, knowing not to shame them, not to ridicule them, and also to be what we call ‘askable parents’.”
That means providing information that the child is old enough to process.
“If they ask, ‘Mom, why are those two people kissing?’ They don’t need to know the whole reproductive story," she says. "You can say, ‘Perhaps they love each other.’ Whatever you want to tell them depending on their age, and then you can fill in the gaps as you go.”
Which might become less pleasant and more technical as the child gets older. But Golman of TWU says it’s actually a talk kids want to have.
“Parents are so afraid to make a value because they’re afraid their kids are going to go against it,"she says. "But kids are repeatedly telling us in studies that they want to hear from their parents – they want to hear what parents have to say, and they want that reinforcement from them.”
Otherwise, it’s off to the Internet and their friends for answers.
Think re-airs tonight at 9, or listen to the podcast.