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Discussing sex with your children...when is the right time?

When to discuss sex with your children seems to be a common question these days. Is there a particular age that we wait for the children to reach or do we begin approaching the subject at an early age?

Much research has been done on this topic and it seems that the majority of them agree that keeping the lines of communication open from early-on is one of the main keys. We must keep the lines of communication open with our children from the time they begin walking and talking; the children must feel comfortable with being able to come to us ... no matter what the topic of conversation is at the time.

Research shows that by the age of twenty-four, one out of three college students will have already contracted an STD (sexually transmitted disease), and out of the forty percent of college students that end up dropping out before completion, will be dropping out of school because of an unplanned pregnancy.

Children are trusting of their parents to give them accurate information on all topics, and this absolutely includes the subject of sex. Many parents, unfortunately, feel that if they are open to discussing sex with their children, that it means that they are approving that their children go out and have sex; this is absolutely not the case.

As a matter of fact, if you research the internet for other cultures around this big world of ours and the way that they approach the topic of sex, you will discover that those cultures that are open and willing to discuss sex with their children actually have much lower rates of unwanted pregnancies and STDs.

A parents fear of discussing sex with their children will only lead them outside of the home to someone who is more than willing to discuss it with them...this information is usually not only dangerous to the child but may also lead them into unsafe situations.

Another outcome of being uncomfortable with discussing the topic of sex with your child is that your child may be uncomfortable with their bodies; this could not only lead them into feeling very inadequate but may bring sexual dysfunction, STDs and unwanted pregnancies into their lives. 

The keys to being open with your children about sex is to always remain open and honest with them; teach them communication skills and focus around self-respect. Children need to know that their bodies and the choices that they make with regard to their bodies is theirs and theirs alone. Children need to be able to express verbally and non-verbally whether they want anyone touching their bodies and feel comfortable and confident in those choices.

Many of us notice that our children are very curious about their bodies from an early age; this is quite normal so don't be too overly concerned when you spot your child playing with themselves. When you do notice this though, talk to them and let them know that their bodies are important. This may very well be the opportune time to begin having the "birds and the bees" discussions.

When your children begin puberty and other bodily changes, be open with them in discussing the changes they are currently experiencing. You will also want to explain to them what stages will come next so that they will not be so unprepared for the future changes of their bodies.

A wonderful online site with more information and answers to additional questions you may have on this subject, is sponsored by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States; another great informational site is Planned Parenthood.

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