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#AskAlyson: Talking about Sex

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There is a topic which my husband and I need help with and if it could be addressed that’s great!  It is….age appropriate conversations about SEX with our 12 year old.  He’s likely being informed by friends, media and we haven’t had any conversations with him yet (only where babies come from) and we’re feeling a bit behind the 8 ball.  Whenever we’ve casually brought up something as it related to something in the paper etc., he literally walks out of the room and doesn’t want to hear it from us.  So we need to figure something out here!!



8 Ball Parents


Dear 8 Ball Parents,


Let’s take a moment to acknowledge that you were able to answer the question “where do babies come from?”  That is hard enough for many parents.   And good job, also, on using topics from the newspaper to spring board a conversation.  That is a great way to get the ball rolling usually, but if he is walking away and not wanting to listen, we’ll have to use another approach.


Usually when kids walk away from the sex topic, it’s because they are not handling embarrassment, anxiety or some other big feelings well.   So let’s see if we can make this a bit less threatening for him.


First; start with what my Adlerian colleague Barry McDonald of Mentoring Boys recommends; make a weekly practice of having “the body talk”. Pick a simple non-threatening part of the body, like the toes, and talk about them.  You could discuss warts and toe fungus, and the need to wear flip flops in the locker room showers.  How to clip nails so they don’t get ingrown.  If you keep up the weekly body talk, you will eventually get around to talking about the penis and vagina / vulva and hopefully by now, you have normalized talking about the body and he’ll be more receptive and less threatened.  Now hopefully you can delve into more complex conversations about gender, sexuality, sex activity, consent, porn and more.


Second; buy a good book that matches his reading level.  He’ll likely scoff, but you’ll find it gets read when he has privacy.


Thirdly; continue to open up the subject periodically, even if he continues to shut you down.  You can say “it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about this with me now, but it’s not something to be embarrassed by.  We can talk more later.”  If you are calm and open about the subject matter, hopefully he will eventually venture into the topic of sex and sexuality with you.


Fourthly, if he refuses to talk with you, perhaps he might open up with someone else.  That might be his dad, older brother or cousin, a favorite aunt, a friend of the family.  And there is always Kids Help Line that is anonymous, and kids can text CONNECT to 686868 anytime.  They get sex questions all the time.


Lastly, it will be covered in his school curriculum, so he is bound to get some education at least.


Happy Parenting!


About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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