A Case for Early Education: The Sex Talk
One of the most dreaded moments for many parents is when they or their child bring up the birds and the bees - the intertwined but distinct questions of “where do babies come from?” and “what is sex?”
Every family is different and my intention is not to preach, merely to share what was for me a very important moment with my father. To present another possibility: that the sex talk doesn’t have to be awkward, and that it can be just another moment of discovery.
I asked him around the age of 4 or 5 about sex and my dad, being a very left-brained engineer, responded in a way that has shaped my feelings toward sex and my relationships forever: he pulled out a book and just told me, step by step.
We flipped through the pages, pictures explaining biologically yet simply the process of reproduction.
It all made a lot of sense to me at the time.
And he didn’t over sterilize it either: he explained that sex can be for baby-making and for pleasure, that it could be with one partner or many, and that it was something for adults. He didn’t go into grotesque detail either, but painted a very reasonable portrait.
After an hour or two, I got the gist of it and scampered off to do something else. I wasn’t dizzied by the information really, because it wasn’t like this big built up secret that I had to wonder about. It was as if my dad had explained how clouds work or why employees go to their offices.
So my question about sex for us was just another in the almost never ending slew of questions that five year olds ask their parents.
Looking back, it was so nice just always knowing and not having to piece it together on the playground, or finally in middle school health class where the information is patchy and you are already feeling sexual.
Perhaps more importantly, my dad continued to have progressively more mature or detailed conversations with me as I got older, especially when I went through puberty. And instead of telling me NOT to have sex at twelve, he explained to me all the reasons why it would be better to wait. And I waited. No resentment involved.
Like I said, I totally understand that people have a wide range of beliefs and approaches to exposing their children to sex. So I’m not saying that how or what my dad told me is the objective best; I communicating that it worked for us, and that I’m glad I heard about something that is such a big part of life from him.
In my opinion, your kid should hear about sex from you before they hear about it from somebody else - you are the one who can make sure she knows how to make good choices based on true information.