Having “The Talk” With Your Daughter
There may be nothing a parent dreads more than having “the talk” with her child. You know the one – the talk where we explain the so-called birds and bees, the differences between males and females, and the terrifying word spelled s-e-x. I think our own insecurities as well as movies and TV shows set us up to believe this conversation can only go one way – horribly. It will surely be the most awkward 5 minutes of our parenting experience, but we’ll suffer through it and then get on with our lives, right?
The truth is, having “the talk” with your child can and should be a meaningful, bonding conversation between parent and child. One not plagued by awkwardness and panged facial expressions but by tenderness and wonder as the two of you marvel at God’s creation together. And truthfully, it shouldn’t be one talk at all. It should be countless conversations over many years, as you prepare her heart for the truth of how life is conceive, and then follow up again and again.
Preparing Her Heart
Rather than telling young children the “storks” drop off babies at doorsteps or that they just spontaneously appear in women’s bellies, we can lay stones that hint of something greater and help pave the way for the future “talk.”
From the time our kids are babies themselves, we can make it clear to them that all babies have mommies and daddies. Not all children may have daddies in their lives, but they all had them originally. Helping kids grasp that it takes a mommy and a daddy to create a baby is one important stone to lay on their paths of understanding.
As kids get a little older, we can also hint that there is a physical expression of love that leads to a baby being born. It’s not spontaneous and random. There is a “decision” component to it. You might, for example, let your kids hear you say that a couple you know is “trying to have a baby.” If your child begins asking questions about what you mean, but you don’t feel they are old enough for more details, you can always say that you’ll explain when they are a little older. (However, children are ready for this conversation much earlier than most parents think.)
Lastly, you can prepare your child for the more difficult talks to come by always being available and open. Talk with your child about anything and everything, and don’t act awkward or shocked by any conversation. The goal is for your child to feel she can talk to you about anything and you’ll listen calmly and rationally.
If you’ve done a good job of laying stones up until this point, the actual conversation where you explain the “s” word should flow more naturally. Yes, it will be somewhat awkward. But your job, Mom, is not to show it! Smile. Talk confidently and with ease. Don’t make a sour face.
The way you describe God’s gift of sex is likely how your daughter will view it for years to come. We want our children to view sex, not as dirty and hush-hush, but as miraculous and beautiful in the context of marriage. Such a special gift is most definitely worth waiting for. Emphasize that. It’s also important to use proper terminology when referring to the male and female anatomy. If you haven’t already been using the proper names with your child, this is a good time to start.
Experts say we should have this talk with our kids around the ages of 8-9. At this, most parents are aghast! But we have to remember that it’s always better to be proactive parents, not reactive. The act of sex is often talked about among kids at school by the third or fourth grade, and we want to have had the conversation, with the correct framing, before they hear about it elsewhere.
It is also important to remember that having these kinds of heart-to-heart conversations with our kids will not “steal their innocence.” Parent-child connectedness can never do that. But the world will surely try.
Let’s equip our kids with God’s truth so they’ll be able to identify the cultural lies.
Like I mentioned earlier, “the talk” should really be plural. We should be having “talks” with our kids constantly about God’s design for gender, relationships, marriage, and parenting. Let movies, songs, and discussions about people you know be triggers for follow-up conversations.
It can be tempting to brush the subject under the rug once you’ve explained the mechanics of sex and never bring it up again. But don’t give into that temptation. Find the courage to bring up the subject again, whenever the opportunity arises, with a smile and a reassuring tone of voice.
Statistics say that kids who have open communication with their parents about this subject are less likely to have sex and less likely to get pregnant. So talking freely with your kids is a protective factor.
Don’t worry about whether you handle the talks perfectly. The most important thing is that your child knows the door of communication is open, and she can walk through it with you any time.