Talking to kids about sex. Yikes.
Any parent who has initiated “the talk” with their child has experienced qualms about what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. It would be awesome to channel a sex-pert during these talks and merely let the words flow succinctly, accurately, and in a manner that eliminates the inevitable eyeball roll of your all-knowing child.
When discussing sexuality with young people, a serious approach is often encouraged as a means to demand respect for the topic. I totally get that. Sexual health is a serious issue that encompasses discussions about decision-making, goal-setting, personal values, healthy relationships, oh, and condoms and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), as well. The information young people learn from their parents, community, schools, religious community, and the media will influence the choices they make now and in the future.
You ask yourself, “Adolescent sexuality is not funny! Why humor?”
Infusing humor into conversation can increase the comfort level to help engage our kids in meaningful dialogue. It offers a certain levity that encourages kids to open up and feel safe asking questions.
Humor evens the conversational playing field. With humor, there is a middle-ground in which mutual respect and a commonality can be reached. This can enable two-way, honest conversation. On the flipside, lecturing about the sins of sex automatically turns on the mute button in our child’s mind. Remember, they are inundated with s-e-x on a daily basis. Between their own hormones egging them on, media encouraging promiscuous behavior, and peer influences, they grapple with confusing messages. Do not squelch their concerns with an unbalanced lecture.
Infusing humor into discussion reflects the idea that sex is actually...fun. I know, you are thinking - I don’t want my kids to think this is FUN!! Let me throw it back to you - why not?? They will spend many more years having sex than not having sex. Hopefully. Certainly you wish for them to have a fulfilling, satisfying, close relationship with their life partner, right? Sharing a few romantic laughs allows for an intimacy that can only strengthen relationship bonds.
There are a few things to consider when talking to kids about sex with a humorous approach.
1. Be yourself. If you tend to have zero sense of humor yet try to crack a few jokes, your kids will think you have lost your mind. Stay sane.
2. If it is not funny to the child, it is not funny.
3. Not every topic about sexuality should be taken lightly. Dating mishaps? Funny. Dating violence? Not funny.
4. If a child comes to you with a serious question, do not minimize their feelings with a joke or off-hand comment. Look them in the eye, listen to what they are saying, confirm what they are communicating, then answer the question or merely listen respectfully.
5. Each child is unique with diverse thoughts about sexuality. The conversational style needs to be custom-tailored to the child.
6. Again - keep in mind there is a time and a place for humor.
Talking to your child about sex may seem daunting initially. It would be convenient to have a one-size-fits-all approach to talk with kids about serious topics such as sex, however we need to appreciate each child as an individual and approach them in a manner that is comfortable for them. Know your child and adapt to their particular personality. You may have one kid who is all over it and asks detailed questions and another kid who covers their ears in horror.
Fortunately, “the talk” is a misnomer. It is actually a series of talks over the course of their childhood, which allows for many opportunities to share a few laughs about sex. As parents we have to do the work to enable effective communication throughout the years, but we do not have to do it alone. Use resources and expertise of parents who have traveled to the dark side and come out of it only slightly scathed.
It is a hell of a lot of work birthing, nursing, nurturing, loving, teaching, and launching our kids, not to mention the money we invest! We want them to grow up healthy, happy, and well- adjusted. After all, we do want them to return the favor when we enter the adult-diaper years. So, lighten up! Sex is a normal part of life. It is okay to take a humorous approach to help open lines of communication.
Their sex life is depending on you. (wink)