How to START an awkward conversation with your child

“My child has never asked me anything about sex. How do I START the conversation with them?” 

I get this question a lot from parents who haven’t said a word to their kids about how babies are made, and they are nervous to approach a topic they know will be met with resistance.

The easiest way to START talking to kids about sex, is to tip-toe your way in. When you can circle around it by building a more intimate relationship in an easier way, you give yourself time to get more comfortable. As you build trust and intimacy with each other, you set the stage for topics about sex, but also for a solid relationship that will serve you through adolescence.

Check out these stepping stones to a more intimate, trusting relationship and see if you can take a step closer with your son or daughter.

  1. The facts about your child – “How did you do on your Science test?” “Did you get your best time at the swim meet?” “What are the names of your favorite friends?”
  2. Third person questions – “Are other kids at school starting to talk about ‘Who likes who’?”  “Have you ever stumbled upon anything inappropriate online?” “Do you think this TV commercial could be sending the wrong message to younger kids?”
  3. My beliefs & values as your parent– “I think this TV show sends the wrong messages about the appropriate way to behave in public.”  “I like these song lyrics because they sound aligned with my values around what a healthy relationship looks like.”  “I think her outfit is too revealing and sexy for her age, I like that you dress more modestly.”
  4. My feelings – “It makes me sad when I see girls having babies at such a young age.”“I’m so proud of the way you handled yourself with your teacher.” “I’m embarrassed for yelling at you this morning, I was stressed and I took it out on you, I’m sorry.”  “I really enjoyed our conversation the other night, I like it when you open up to me.”
  5. My thoughts & feelings about sex – “I get embarrassed because my parents never talked to me about this stuff but you deserve to know the facts so bear with me.”“I should have been talking to you all along about bodies and babies and stuff so that it wouldn’t be awkward. I didn’t and I apologize, but now get ready, because we are going to be awkward together.” “I don’t think a couple should have sex until they are in a loving and committed, long term relationship.” “I bought this class for us to watch online together. I’m excited and nervous. Shall we have popcorn or ice cream while we watch?”

When we overcome our own embarrassment to create a more intimate relationship with our kids, we are teaching them how to do it for themselves. When it’s with a best friend or a future romantic partner, your kids will understand the value in making time for awkward conversations, whether about feelings, birth control or commitment. Your kids will have experienced the bond and emotional intimacy with you, so will understand the benefits of it.