Supporting Parents At Home
Which parents doesn’t fear that ‘sex talk’? What are you going to say? When do you start talking about keeping safe, puberty, sex, relationships, pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections? Are you going to be able to answer your child’s questions? These are fears of most parents, but research shows that parents who talk openly to their children about sex from an early age, helps delay in them actually having sex, they are more likely to use contraception when sex occurs and that they have more of a responsible attitude towards their personal relationships and sexual behaviour as they grow older.
Schools now teach sex and relationships education (SRE) from your child first starting primary school, but it is best that parents add to this education to help their child truly understand what is being taught. Every child is unique in how quick they learn and how they process information, which is why parents need to ensure their child understands the information that is given. If it helps why not ask to see the SRE policy of the school your child attends so you know what is being taught and when – You could use my information as a guide, but each school teaches SRE differently, so it is best to see exactly what they teach as part of their curriculum. As a parent you can add to this and make talking about SRE topics the norm within your family. The benefits to this are that future conversations about SRE topics will be easier as your child gets older; you know that your child is getting the information they need to keep safe, and it helps keep the close and trusting relationship that you have with you child.
As young people grow up they often report that the SRE they received from home and school when they were younger came too late. What they are basically saying is that they are learning about bits of SRE from different sources, but not getting a true understanding of what it all means. Children don’t want to start puberty without knowing what is going to happen to them. They don’t want to feel embarrassed for not knowing something in front of their friends or hear sexual phrases that they don’t know the meaning of – they want to know the facts so they can be confident in talking about different topics and build upon their knowledge as they get older. This is what SRE at school attempts to do in that the different key stages prepare them for what they are likely to experience before it happens. Although your child gets this education the person they are want to talk to the most about SRE topics is YOU!
Research has shown that children and young people want to talk to their parents about SRE topics because they trust their parents and know that the information they give is true. Lots of myths and exaggerated facts about sex get bantered around all the time, but what your child wants to know is the true facts. However, research shows that some parents don’t feel they have the knowledge to teach their child all the sexual information that they need to know. That does not mean to say that parents can find out the information and then talk to their child, but like I suggested parents need to see the SRE policy of the school their child attends and be prepared for the types of information their child is going to ask about. You could use my information as a guide, but each school teaches SRE differently, so it is best to see exactly what they teach as part of their curriculum. Also remember to stick to the golden rules …
Dr Triece Turnbull’s GOLDEN RULES when talking to your children about SRE topics
- 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.
Also to prepare yourself for the types of questions and answers your child will need as they approach puberty then why not take a look at the puberty e-books I have developed for parents that will help and guide you. Please also feel welcome to become a member of Dr Triece Turnbull’s Parent-Zone so you can communicate with other parents in a similar situation to yourself and lets work together to give our children the knowledge and information they need. To give you the heads up on the types of things your child wants to be knowing about, why not download your FREE e-book that talks about the ‘10 things you kids want to know about sex, but daren’t ask’ – lots of advice and tips are available for parents in this e-book so they can talk more openly with their children about various sexual topics.