During our Let's Be Honest workshops, parents often
spend a good amount of time sharing questions they
receive from their kids about sex and sexuality. We
usually all agree that some of the questions might
cause a parent to want to run and hide! However, after
realizing that we're all in a similar parenting situation
and after sharing possible answers with each other,
shoulders relax and parents feel more empowered to
give it a try.
We've included some common questions that parents
have shared and suggestions of ways to answer such
questions. First, we suggest to parents to keep in
mind the following four themes during ongoing
conversations with their child about sex and
sexuality. Whether you choose to include one or
more of the themes in your answers, it's a useful
framework to keep in mind for answers and follow-up
RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
- As parent, it is your right and responsibility to be
your child's primary sexuality educator.
- Children WILL get information about sex/sexuality
from the culture around them.
- When parents are proactive, they have the
opportunity to have a positive impact on their child's
sexuality and experiences.
- The child has a right to receive information from
their parent and has a responsibility to understand
every decision about sexuality carries with it choices
- Think about and gain clarification about your
attitudes, beliefs and values and be willing to share
them with your child.
- Ask yourself: Where do my attitudes, beliefs and
values come from? (e.g. Universal Value - We all
children have a right to be safe. Personal Value - We
differ on our beliefs about when people should begin
- Honest communication between parents and
children is important.
- Even disagreeing about values is beneficial to
both parent and child. It allows both sides to
understand how the other thinks and feels.
- Examining values can be a powerful positive
influence on a child's developing sexuality.
FEELINGS AND SELF-ESTEEM
- Explore your feelings around issues related to
sexuality and share them with your child. Allow and
encourage your child to share his/her feelings too.
- Try to practice listening carefully without judgment
or criticism in order to foster an environment where
your child feels comfortable in approaching you.
- Affirm and validate your child. This will help
him/her feel good about themselves and will help
promote healthy self-esteem and decision-
FACTS AND KNOWLEDGE
- Gather facts and resources so that you can help to
assure that your child gets accurate and healthy
information about sexuality.
- Admit if you don't know the answer to a question
and make sure to get back to your child with the
answer (or investigate the answer together!)
- Stay connected by discussing information in an
ongoing, open dialogue.
Question from an
8 year old:Why don't
boys get breasts?
Actually, boys do have breasts
their breasts stay
pretty flat. When girls become teenagers their breasts
get rounder and larger so that they can feed a baby if
they decide to have one later on. When boys become
men, they won't be able to feed a baby from their
breasts. But they can take care of a baby by feeding it
from a bottle.
Values - men take care of
Facts & Knowledge - what happens to bodies
Question from a 10 year old:Is it
dangerous for children to have sex?
Try this answer:
Some children are
curious about sex,
but most kids feel fine about waiting until they're much
older to find out what sex is like. Children's bodies
have not grown and developed enough to have sexual
intercourse. It's never OK for an adult or older child to
have sex with someone your age or to touch a child in
sexual ways. When older people do this, they are
taking advantage of the younger person. If you hear of
something like this happening, I hope you'll tell me or
some other adult so we can be sure it stops and that
the child is OK.
Values - you can tell me if something
you uncomfortable or worried
Feelings & Self-Esteem - you deserve to be
safe and I will protect you
Facts & Knowledge - a child's body needs to
grow and develop before they have sex
Question from a 12 year old :Why do
people enjoy sex?
Just like there are many different ways to define
there are many different reasons why people enjoy
sex. Everybody's body is different and therefore
people enjoy different things. People usually enjoy
sex when it's a mutually consensual act, or both
people have agreed to it, and when both people are
emotionally and physically ready to be intimate (close
and loving) with one another. A huge part of sexual
intimacy is open and honest communication between
partners. It's not like on TV. In real life, the emotional
is just as, if not more, important than the physical.
And, just like with other mammals, the human body is
designed to enjoy sexual behaviors.
Values - mutual consent, honest
Facts & Knowledge -
are designed to enjoy sex to keep the species going
Question from a 14 year old:Mom, when
did you start having sex?
answer:I understand that you're curious about
experience. I'm not so sure that the age of when I had
sex for the first time is as important as what I was
feeling or thinking about it. Although you will decide
for you when the best time is to have sex for the first
time, I want you to know that I hope you wait until you
are older and in a mature, responsible relationship.
Values - wait until you're older and more
responsible before having sex
Feelings & Self-
Esteem - it's normal to be curious about parents'