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Have you had "The Talk" about sex with your daughters yet? Can you share any tips?

By April 13, 2009 - 8:55am
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I'm wondering how those of you who've had "The Talk" with your daughters about sex went about it, in terms of how graphic you got at what ages.

Did you name the proper body parts for your children at a very early age?

How old were they when you first explained how sex happens?

And was there anything you'd change about the way you did it? Did your girl(s) surprise you in any way?

As you might have guessed, I'm feeling a little anxious about this. Would love some input from those who have been there before me.

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EmpowHER Guest

I am not a parent, but I remember my mom trying to talk to me. She never used words like vagina and penis, and I was ashamed at sixteen that my best guy friend knew the names of the parts that make up the vagina and I didn't! I made me think about how I would tell my kids. Start them off with the right terms early, that's really important. Tell them where baby grows , for instance. The more they know about there body, the chance of someone taking advantage of them. That has been proven. If your eight year old asks you where babies come from, tell her that it takes a man's penis and a woman's vagina, and that they have to work together, and you can't do it till you're a grown up, and even then not unless (Insert condition here, ie, married, in love, etc.) I found out in fifth grade or so, and just a few months I started my period. I shudder to think what would have happened had I not known what was happening. You don't have to go into detail, but be honest. They'll trust you more.

June 22, 2009 - 10:16am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm 20, I believe you should have the puberty and sex talk very early.
I started puberty when I was eight and had my period by the time I was nine. Though I was young I was laid back about the whole situation because I had been well informed. It is better to start too early than to start too late.

June 21, 2009 - 8:18am
(reply to Anonymous)

Can you tell us how you became well-informed about "the whole situation" before you reached puberty?

Did your mom, dad, or another person explain about puberty at one-point in time before you were 8 years old, or did they tell you about the changes in your body that would occur throughout your childhood? (Meaning: did you have "one big talk" or a series of smaller talks?).

Did this same person talk with you about sex, too? If so, can you describe what the talk was like, if any books were used, etc? It is great to hear from a 20 year old that they approve of how they were well-informed in advance, and your story could really help other parents who are struggling with this topic.


June 21, 2009 - 1:59pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm 17, and I found out about the whole issue of sex and puberty through my mother's own naiavity. When I was 4, there was a television program that focused on the human body and growing up, and I asked my mother to record it as I was into that kind of stuff. She did, and there was about 2-3 hours focusing on sex, periods, erections and general sexual activity. However, she didn't find this out until she watched a year or two after I did. I believe that it relieved a huge pressure for her, although I was mature for my age so I was able to handle it. I think that it's best to talk to a girl when she's around about 9/10 because it's possible that puberty may start early for her. The same should also be applied to boys, with the father talking it through - it's easier I find with same sex conversations.

June 21, 2009 - 1:28am
EmpowHER Guest

As a single parent (male) with an 11 year old daughter I was told by my wise girlfriend that I needed to have the "talk" with her as the onset of her period could be traumatic if she wasn't prepared.
It was a lot easier to do than I thought and I went into as much detail as she wanted about sex and reproduction. In later years she thanked me and said I had done a great job.
Buying sanitary napkins was a little strange but I got guidance from a helpful lady at the drugstore.

April 25, 2009 - 7:14am
EmpowHER Guest

Before giving my answers, I have to explain that I am a stepmother... and my oldest stepdaughter is only 12 years younger than I am. When she was 10, she asked me a question (about hair in strange places) that I was not prepared to answer... so I sympathize with what you are about to go through. I tried combining all of the vital conversations into one... and this was a mistake. Ultimately, she was under the impression that a period is something you go to the doctor for and all of her questions only confirmed this theory of hers (does it hurt? How come boys don't get it? Do you really have to get it every month?) until I finally caught on to her confusion and realized that the best way to do it, is to be blunt...

At the same time, as you'll read in many of my articles on post rape stress disorder I also have a very absurd perception of sex, so I was even more nervous about having this conversation.

Now, the confusion of puberty has passed and she has blossomed into a beautiful 13 year old girl. By blossomed, I also mean I am ready to make her wear turtlenecks all summer long to cover up.

But, to get to your questions... you're BOTH going to be very nervous and uncomfortable when you have "the talk" but... practice makes perfect. It may help that I am younger, and I remember what it was like being her age... but girls of this generation often try to act older than they are and it's important that have a clear understanding of the consequences of their actions... and the only way to know that is to fully understand those actions themselves.

I wish somebody had talked to her when she was younger, because a 10 year old girl should already know that storks don't really deliver babies.

But the biggest lesson I have learned is to have the conversation frequently, and keep it age appropriate. It took a lot of arguing with my husband, after telling a 13 year old child that if she wanted to get on birth control, to talk to me. This would shock and upset anybody but (1) I know how she feels about sex because we talk about it, and I read her reaction. So far, she has not reached "that point" of curiosity... and I am sure she hasn't even kissed a guy yet. The more important reason (2) is that she needs to have somebody to talk to, should she consider taking that step, and to be responsible and safe (instead of careless because she is afraid.)

Well, that's my advice for somebody with an older daughter... is to "be cool" about it... because as young as 13 is when curiosity sets in.

However, I gather you are talking about a younger child. I also think that it is dependant on age, but 'hoohoo' and 'haha' are acceptable descriptions for a younger child.

Even now, my daughter giggles like crazy when you say "vagina" so, I bought a fish and named it Vagina for her.

April 24, 2009 - 3:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

hollaaaa, i'm a 15 year old girl and my momma talked to me about "sex" last year.
She is a very caring parent and helped me know why it's better to wait until marrage.
I honestly am going to wait :) thankss mommie.<3

April 22, 2009 - 1:02pm

I had The Talk with my 11yr old daughter & 12yr old son recently. The books 'What's the big secret' by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown really really helped! Not sure what I would have done without it. I was dreading the moment myself :)

April 21, 2009 - 11:24am
EmpowHER Guest

The first experience I had with this topic was when I was around 6 years old. I had heard a friend use the S word, so I asked my mother what she was talking about. Her reply:

Don't you EVER say that word EVER EVER AGAIN!!!!

And now, being 21, I can safely assume that that was to be the extent of my parental sex education, as I've not heard a word on the topic since. I thought I was sick or something when I got my period (at 10, pretty young, but I should have been taught SOMETHING by then), and I didn't tell my mom about it for three days. She could not have handled it more poorly than this.

No matter what you do, tell your kids at least something!! My mom is quite lucky she popped out a smart one, because I know too many young ladies in the same situation that thought doing jumping jacks after sex was a good birth control method. They had just never been exposed to any truth about sex and were too scared by their parents' attitudes to ask questions.

April 20, 2009 - 3:51pm

I am inspired by reading everyone's positive, non-judgemental, matter-of-fact approach to sex ed. It's wonderful to hear this topic discussed in this manner, without so much emotion and shame. Thanks, everyone!

I have a 2.5 year old son, and want to provide him with as much age-appropriate information on all topics, including sexuality. I agree with Susan...girls seem to be the gate-keepers of sexuality as they mature, and I would like to change that trend, so that boys are equally responsible.

So, I have also started sex education with my son. What does this mean for a 2 year old? It means when he points to a body part, calling it by its real name, and not making faces or being squeamish about it. He's got eyes, nose, elbows, and yes, a penis, that he should know the correct names for. The other part of our sex education for a toddler is teaching him to be respectful of others, communicate by using his words, and to stand up for himself and others. In his world, this usually involves toys and playing with other toddlers. But, it won't be long until these skills will translate into other real-world scenarios! When he is playing with a toy, and another toddler grabs for it, we teach him to say, "my turn", to stand up for himself. When a toddler grabs for a toy someone else is playing with, we're teaching him to say, "Sam's turn", to help stand up for others, be fair, and help others use their "big boy words". I think this will also help with bullying (provided he learns more words by then..ha ha!).

In all seriousness, the above toy scenarios are the ones that can build good communication skills, respect, valuing equality, self-esteem, confidence, and more. Then, as he is older, he can (hopefully!!) be able to confront difficult situations verbally, stand up for himself and others respectfully, reason through choices, etc. I really do believe that "sex ed" is no different than any other topic, because you need these same skills for most other situations in life also.

It will get trickier as he is older, no doubt, but I'm hoping we are building a strong foundation in order to add small amounts of information throughout his life, and not have to start with "one big talk" that is uncomfortable. And, if we have more children and any of them are female, then we would do the exact same thing.

Thanks for the great discussion!

April 19, 2009 - 7:34am
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