Parents, Puberty & Sex Education in Schools – Part 3

Parents, Puberty & Sex Education in Schools – Part 3
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Part 3 – Last in the Series …

Part 1 ‘Parents, Puberty and Sex Education in Schools’ looked at the challenges of sex education within schools. We then looked at ‘How do we move forward’ giving practical advice for teachers and health professionals by focusing on what more needs to be done to support parents in the sex education they give to their children. Now in Part 3 we are going to look at the best ways parents can engage and start talking to their children openly about growing up, puberty and sex and relationships. I will include FREE stuff along the way to help parents, but also use the ‘Book Shop’ as there are great resources to help and support parents with the information they say that they NEED and WANT.

Last month's article outlined a communication model to highlight the barriers and facilitators parents face when talking to their children about sexual matters, but what are the main things parents need to do to get started? Although parents cringe at the thought of mentioning anything to do with sex and their children it is vital that we stick with the following golden rules …

  • Parents need to be honest with their children – Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know something and suggest that you find out the information together. This will not only help in talking openly about other aspects of sex in the future, but it will allow for an honest relationship to continue between you and your child.
  • Parents - always try and respond to a question no matter how embarrassed you may feel. Believe it or not, the embarrassment is far worse for your child, but they are asking YOU about personal and sensitive information because they trust you. Utilise upon this trust and be honest and open, without judgement and criticism.
  • Parents need to learn and refresh their memories based on the things they have learnt in relation to puberty, sex and relationships when they were younger. Many parents were given bad sex education themselves so they know the pressures and worries that come with growing up, but remember nobody knows it all, so don’t be afraid to find out the information you need, preferably before your child starts asking questions. Parents generally only feel embarrassed when they don’t know something, so learn as much as you can before you are put on the spot to answer difficult questions.
  • Parents – try and use humour when talking to your child about sex. It doesn’t all have to be so serious! Your child gets the serious sex education at school, but you can make learning about growing up, puberty and sex and relationships fun. To help, try and bring up topics in general day activities like watching TV, doing the ironing, cooking tea or even going for a walk and remember if the subject gets a little too personal divert it to someone else or something you have seen in soaps or from when watching a film together.

With the Do’s comes the Don’ts …

  • How many times did your parents say ‘I will tell you that when you get older?’ I remember those days and all it did was stop me asking questions in the future. Children only ask questions that they want answers to and all they are trying to do is piece together information that they have learnt so it is best to answer them honestly.
  • Try not to govern conversations relating to sex and relationships. Parents are often curious to find out more about what their children know, but they will mention things when they are ready and then this is your opportunity to step in and have a two-way conversation, without criticism and condemnation.
  • If your child asks a question don’t be afraid to not only answer it, but give them your opinion on the subject. Ask them if they agree and have an open conversation – this way they will learn more.

Don’t forget to claim your FREE e-book and check out the ‘Perfect Parenting and Puberty Changes in Your Son: Boys Will Be Boys’, ‘Perfect Parenting and Puberty Changes in Your Daughters: Girls Just Want To Have Fun’ and 'A to Z of Sex: Correct and Slang Terminology That Is Being Used By Kids, which so many parents have already learnt so much from.

About the author

Dr Triece is Founder and MD of parent-zone.com. A website that is devoted to improving sex and relationship education and the sexual health of young people by working with parents, schools, health care professionals and different organisations.