It all started with a call from my 7 year old son's principal. Antonio had written a word down in-front of his class mates and said it out-loud. It was a bad choice and he didn't want to talk about it to his teacher etc. etc. Finally..."he said (stage whisper) sex".
At this point, with all of the build up I was a bit let down. I also had to fight the urge to laugh at the discomfort with the word (I'm the adult, I'm the adult..). I have a child, she's an adult, and my son is the one who said the word - none of us were new to it. That lead me to the realization that it was time.
I walked over to the school so he could walk home with me that day. We talked about language and how words are symbolic for things, actions, or ideas. Then we moved on to some biology about who has sex (all plants and animals) and because it propagates the species. I.E. if people didn't have sex, there wouldn't be any more people. Then the idea that the word sex means, basically, if you have a penis or vagina.
Waiting a little longer and for a relaxed atmosphere when we had time to sit and talk he got some more education.
First, dating. I tell him to date, not worry about relationships until he has had time to experience life. That the most important thing to know before getting serious is who he is, what he wants from a relationship, and to be comfortable with both. This lead into the idea that most long term relationships are between only two people and sex is important, so understanding it will make that relationship better.
The next step was to explain that it is not shameful or bad. If he finds boys attractive or girls, or both that is his business. The bottom line is to only have sex because he, and the other person or persons, wish to have it and never feel bad or dirty about it. Then he asked if you can have it with yourself so there was the explanation that everyone masturbates. Winding down to people have sex because it's fun, and always wear a condom. Then, of course, condoms were explained.
We ended with advice not to bring this up to his friends yet, but correct them if they try to tell him anything silly and to ask his parents if he has any other questions. Then I taught him a phrase I will reinforce at all ages:
"Condoms. So it doesn't burn when you pee!"
Nothing demystifies sex like hearing your mom talk about it. He can learn about the mechanics later.
Have any of you started to have these conversations? At what age? Did the child(ren) bring it up or did you?

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The language piece is common for us. He and I are both very in love with words, how they work, and why so it was a natural starting point for us. Also, it helps me to take some of the excitement out of 'naughty' words.
I know I only mentioned it here, but I was very explicit about when this type of conversation is appropriate. However, I did not want him to think he had no right to respond when kids talk about it to him. We are surrounded by religious folks and he will hear anti-gay comments and many people here are just insanely uptight about sex so it was a balance between, "Not really a school topic" and "Don't let others tell you to devalue yourself"
I wonder how differently, if at all, I would treat girls. Probably more of the emphasis on not feeling bad about it and it should be what you want type of thing.
i wish my parents had talked to me about sex the way u did, im 16 and i still never got the talk. i had to wait tll 7th grade to get all the information about puberty, sex and masterbation. sex is still a dirty topic in my familly. i know that when im a mom im gonna be open with my children.
I was told "No sex before marriage" by my mother and birth-control by my dad (divorced) that was the extent, oh and boys only want one thing. That is why I'm so open.
Thanks for sharing the story Mitchell! My oldest is 6.5, so he knows probably about as much as your son did. I don't expect to have a big "talk" with them but plan to discuss bits and pieces as they get older and it comes up naturally.

Still chuckling at the principal having to whisper the word sex. Hehe.
I try to be as open as I can with my girl, about sex and everything else, the tough part is figuring out how to explain things so she'll understand, and be comfortable with that understanding. We have had some hilarious moments already, like when she explained to an older hippy looking guy on the bus that the pollen that was bothering him was tree sperm. "That's how trees do the mating dance, they just spray their sperm everywhere and hope for the best". He sort of looked around confused, maybe for someone to offer a different explanation, or some hope that his eyes weren't really itching from tree sperm.

That sort of makes it sound like she knows more than she does, maybe, she hasn't yet asked about how exactly humans mate. We do sort of use "the mating dance" as a general euphemism, not so much to obscure any details, just to cover the whole crazy huge range of behaviors from cranes dancing to slugs who do some really bizarre gyrating to humans making out.

We talked about how it's in our natures to have drives, and the mating drive is one of them, this made it easy to talk alot about drives, how they are good things, making us seek the things we need to survive, but also how we can get in trouble with them, everything from overeating to being stuck with an unsuitable person in your life or loosing your freedom and status if you mate before you're really ready, although your body thinks it's ready, your brain may not be ready, the same as if you let your tongue pick out your lunch every day you'd have ice-cream and soon be obese and miserable.

Good point, John, about keeping certain things private. We do the same thing, we talk about how nothing is purely good or bad, but all things are a mix of good bad and indifferent, and about how religion sometimes makes people scared of lots of natural things, so to be polite (and to be safe) we keep things private that might upset other people, or where we things are just none of their business and we don't care to hear their opinion on the subject.
or where we [think] things are just none of their business and we don't care to hear their opinion on the subject.
Fantastic reason, may be the best one yet.
What everyone else said. For us, the conversations with our daughter have been ongoing since she was much younger (she's 10 now), keeping the conversation age-appropriate.

When I was little we had the book "Where Did I Come From?" which is remarkably sex-positive, age appropriate, and straight-forward. I can recommend it strongly, although it definitely has a heterosexual bias (I don't think homosexuality is mentioned at all). I bought it recently for my daughter, and still like the book all these years later.

The same authors/illustrators have a great book on puberty as well, "What is Happening to Me?" (although still with the hetero bias).




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