How to start a conversation with your child about sex

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How to start a conversation with your child about sex

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Many parents ask me this question about how to start this conversation with their sons and daughters. The first thing I say is breath. Assess where your anxiety, where your hesitation, and address it. Do not open your mouth to your son or daughter until you have. This is a very sensitive subject. They will be highly attuned to your comfort level. There is wonderful educational material out there for parents in order to address their own discomfort. And then, I will give you my short list about what I hear from kids that would make it more comfortable. Many conversations, not one. There is not going to be that conversation. I am still waiting to have that conversation with my dad. I am 46. Have the conversations in the car. Leave your cellphone off in the car. Music presents a wonderful intro. Most of our music is about sex and relationships anyhow. For these dialogs. Let them be short. Let them end before you walk into the house where mom and the other siblings are around. I like to call it stadium seating. Sometimes the eye to eye contact is a little bit too intimate for our boys in particular to be talking about their genitals, and yet we have got to be having this conversation sooner than later. If we wait until 12, we have already made it really clear we are not comfortable with it and we are not really available and reliable resources for information. Save your opinions and values for the end of the conversation. If you bring them up in the front end, you will never hear where your kid is. If you listen to his questions or her questions, they will reveal to you what their emotional and developmental needs are and what they are ready to hear.

See Jonathan Nadlman, MFT's video on How to start a conversation with your child about sex...

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Jonathan Nadlman, MFT

Psychotherapist

Jonathan Nadlman, MFT, is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice since 1995, and has been counseling adults, couples, young people and their families for twenty-four years.  For the past seven years, he has been teaching Human Development and puberty as a rite-of-passage at many independent schools. Jonathan was the supervising therapist at Pacific Hills Middle and High School for six years. In addition, he is a facilitator of rites-of-passage workshops for adolescents teens and adults.  When he is not working, he can be found trying to change wood into art, learning his djembe, or in the garden with his wife and seven year old daughter. Or on occasion, if there's a swell, riding the California surf.

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