Teaching kids about sex is quite possibly more frightening than actually birthing or adopting them. Some of my friends have asked me recently about resources for navigating this important time of life, so I’m going to start the conversation, and I would LOVE for all of you to add to it!
Most of us want to begin the conversation with, “what is age appropriate?” I would actually like to start somewhere different. I want to talk about their generation first. Gen Z is nothing like us. While we were either raised without technology or at its conception, it did not play a vital role in our lives from birth. Pornography was only accessible through hidden magazines or your wealthy friend’s satellite TV. Our indiscretions took place WITH another person physically present or awkwardly over the phone. We were taught that sex is a private subject not meant for discussion, so we were forced to figure it out for ourselves. We were given, “True love waits,” and essentially told that sex was wrong. Gen Z has had a phone in their hands since they were old enough to ruin a dinner conversation with their boredom. I’m the first to admit that I would hand my kids a tablet during dinner just to connect with my husband or friends. My children know more about technology than I do, so I am swimming at a fast clip just to keep up. I hate you, Snapchat!
They also crave genuine connections and authenticity. While our generation buys what the Kardashians are selling, theirs does not. They would rather watch poorly mastered youtube videos than something overproduced. Quite honestly, this generation sees through our BS. They are literally sitting across from us asking us to be honest.
So that is always my approach. I give it to them straight, and I tell them WHY. Gen Z really wants to know the “why.” When they are little, we talk about their bodies like it is the most natural thing in the world. Why does your penis stand up when you have to pee? Great question! Let’s ask someone with a penis. No, you probably didn’t wet the bed at 11. You are having night time ejaculations! This probably calls for a party and some cake, because guess what…YOU ARE NORMAL! This is a good sign that your body is on track and working the way it is supposed to. How does a baby get out of the mom? Simple…there are only two ways out. One is through a painful surgery across the mama’s belly. The other is through the middle of three holes in the mama’s nether regions.
Does that kind of talk make you squirm? Shake it off, friends…the talks only get more real after this! Here is the most awesome part about being HONEST with our kids as they are young: They will trust us later, when they have the questions bearing bigger life consequences.
When my teenage boys ask me about sex, I am ridiculously honest with them. I tell them that physically it feels great, but emotionally, it complicates EVERYTHING! In one of the most recent talks with one of my boys, he said to me, “I know I want to wait until I’m married to have sex. But the reason I want to wait is because of what you told me about your marriage to dad.” Spoiler alert: My husband waited, I did not. We worked through it in our dating relationship, but on our first day of marriage, my husband had to reprocess that I had shared something so sacred (that he didn’t completely grasp until our wedding night) with another man. I have been honest with my kids about how emotionally devastating it is to know that you can pinpoint the first time your actions made your spouse sad.
Let’s talk about porn. If your kids aren’t choosing to look at it on their phones, they are still seeing it on their friends’ phones. They are getting nudes from PEOPLE THEY KNOW! Girls are sending pics for approval and to fill the “am I good enough” bucket. Boys are asking for pics…because they can. Have the conversation with your girls about why sending naked pictures will haunt them for years. And have the talk with boys about how to respond when they receive one. Don’t say the word, “IF,” say, “WHEN,” because it WILL happen. But the good news is that when you have already had the conversation, your child will know what to do and they will trust you to help them. And then you don’t have to go to extremes and take away their phones making them feel all Amish. They will have real life skills to deal with the situations that are too big for them.
I think the most basic advice I can give is to forget about all of the books. You know your child in a way that no one else does. You have been building a reputation of trust for years. All you have to do is say the hard things in a way that makes it sound like you are reading off the recipe for grilled cheese. Answer their questions honestly and fully, even if that means disclosing your own rough choices. Sometimes our kids will make the wrong choices when it comes to sex. I blame their half baked prefrontal cortex. But if you have a relationship built on honesty and communication, they will ask YOU for help as they navigate the waters.
That’s my .02! What do ya’ll think?