Sex Education Starts at HomeMarlene M. Maheu, Ph.D.
I have a sixteen year old and a ten year old.
Talking about sex and disease in a way that will inform and calm them is critical in today's world.
Take advantage of the many resources available to you.
If your child asks you about sex or disease, be casual and give them an accurate answer at a level they will understand.
Don't make threats.
If your child doesn't seem interested, don't push.
If you are embarrassed, say so.
Find information sources that match the needs and developmental readiness of your child or teenager.
Be sure to look over the material.
Assume that your child is developing sexually a few years earlier than you did.
Don't laugh, no matter how "cute" you think something is.
Don't discuss your sexual history or experience.
Don't ask teens if there is "anything they want to know" from you about sex.
Once an older child has asked what you mean by a certain term you've used casually, like "wet dream," explain and follow with questions about specifics. Don't ask about their own experience directly. Help them feel comfortable by not putting them on the spot. Use questions like:
Ask about the information they are getting at school. If it is from teachers (rather than just their friends), call the school and ask to have a copy of the program, but make your request without embarrassing your child. Or look at their books. Make sure you know what they are being taught, and that you have at least as many facts as they do. That brings me to my last point.
If you have never read about sex, inform yourself. Go to the library for a few hours, or pick up a good book at the bookstore. Several titles are available not only for general sexual information, but also for how to talk with your kids.
The risk is ever growing. Learn to talk with your children about sex now, or take the risk of waiting to talk with them after they're in trouble. One of every eighteen teenage girls get pregnant in the United States every year. One of every five people carry a sexually transmitted disease (STD) in the United States. One of every 250 Americans carries the AIDS virus (HIV). One in every 5 AIDS patients caught the virus in their teenage years. Did you know these facts? Your children are innocent and important. Protect them.
Marlene M. Maheu, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist. She has a private practice in San Diego, California.
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