Most parents want to be the one their kids turn to for questions about sex, puberty, peer pressure and growing up. These are 5 ways parents shut down communication, without even realizing it, and what YOU can do to OPEN the lines of communication with your kids.
Top 5 Ways Parents Shut Down Communication with Kids about Sex:
#1: NOT SAYING ANYTHING
Many parents don’t know what to say, or how much information to give, so they end up not saying anything. Kids can have a lot of questions about growing up but often get the message that mom and dad are uncomfortable talking to them about “private things.” Instead they go elsewhere for their sex education: (Often times to friends, TV, and the internet-which don’t always give them the best or most accurate information). Even though it can be embarrassing, starting this conversation with your children is a powerful way to stay connected through their teen years.
#2: NOT SAYING ENOUGH
Oftentimes parents have “The Talk” and think, “Woo hoo! I’m glad that’s done!” However, to really create an open dialogue with your child, try to bring up puberty, relationships and sex regularly so you have an ongoing discussion. Look for teachable moments like watching movies together, listening to song lyrics in the car, etc. Keep books on hand, define vocabulary, and find ways to keep the conversation going.
#3: WORRYING INSTEAD OF EDUCATING
Worrying is tricky because it feels like we are being good parents, but it doesn’t lead to easy-going, natural and factual conversations. When your child picks up on your worries, they will either tune you out or decide that the world is a scary place and become anxious and afraid. Communicating with the “knowledge is power” intention will help your child feel confident and connected to you.
#4: THINKING “IT’S OVER THEIR HEADS”
Many parents think the sexual content on the internet, TV abd movies, goes over kids’ heads. Even if kids don’t look like they are paying attention, they pick up a surprising amount of sex education from the media. The messages kids get are often inappropriate and confusing so it’s helpful to have parents put it into context for them. Google might answer their questions but parents can be nearby to help them answer questions and teach kids important values.
#5: USING SARCASM & TEASING
When parents are uncomfortable with a topic, sometimes they will talk about it by teasing or joking around. While laughing is always encouraged, if this is the only approach, kids won’t turn to their parents when they have serious questions, concerns or topics where they feel vulnerable.
The good news is that by making an effort to be comfortable talking about sex with your child (even if inside you are cringing!) you send the message that you want your child to come to you with his or her questions or worries. And although they may not act like it, studies show that kids WANT to know what their parents think about sexuality, intimacy, and puberty.
5 Ways to Have THE TALK with your child….without making it awkward.