Are you making some of the most common mistakes made by parents, in regards to talking with your kids about love, sex and relationships? Find out what the most common mistakes are, and how to not make them. Because they are really easy to make! And we all make them (me too)!
Here are some of the most common mistakes made by parents in regards to sex education.
As a parent, sex education isn’t really about sex or sexual intercourse. When your kids hit puberty and become teens, you might talk with them more about love, sex and relationships but you won’t actually be the one teaching them how to do it! Instead you’ll be sharing your thoughts on what sexual behaviours and attitudes are okay (and not okay) in your family.
So sex education is a lot more than just teaching your kids about what sex is. As a parent, we usually want our kids to grow up and to live a happy, content and meaningful life. And maybe to even meet ‘Mr or Mrs Right’, and to start a family of their own. But if we want them to have a healthy relationship and to stay happy with their partner, then we need to make sure that they have enough knowledge and communication skills for that to happen.
And that is where we step in with sex education. As a parent, sex education is about many things, but the end goal is that you give your kids the skills to be able to make strong friendships and to have healthy loving relationships.
Which means that we might talk about a wide range of topics, like consent, body safety, where babies come from, recognising their feelings, and much more. You can find more information about what kids could know about here.
So one of the most common mistakes made by parents is assuming that sex education is just about sex.
The majority of parents don’t think about sex education until puberty. For most of us, it was the first time that our parents talked to us about sex. And usually, it was just the one awkward talk. Puberty also makes us start thinking about sex education, when we start to spot the first signs of puberty in our son or daughter. We might see those first puberty hairs, or the budding of breasts, or get a whiff of body odour as they come home from school or get asked about what this thing (pimple) on their face is. And we realise that they are growing up and that we need to talk to them about what changes are coming their way.
So today, we know that ‘one talk’ really isn’t enough. Can you imagine your parents talking to you about how to drive a car when you were ten years old, and then when you were 16, just handing you the keys and letting you drive? Yeah, right! Being a safe driver happens over many conversations that you have over a long period of time. So you can’t possibly expect your child to learn everything they need to know about sex in one conversation, and to then remember it all many years later!
Today, sex education is about lots of small, frequent conversations that are repeated.
So one of the most common mistakes made by parents is assuming that sex education is just ‘one talk’ that happens at puberty.
Some parents think that they can just leave sex education to someone else to do. After all, their parents didn’t talk to them, and they managed to learn about sex.
But at some stage, all kids will learn about sex. If they don’t learn about it from you, they’ll pick up messages and values from their friends, TV, the Internet or magazines. These messages are often inaccurate, misleading and confusing. And the chances are that the values they learn will not be the values that you want your children to learn.
By talking with your child you can help them to make sense of this information, put them right, and make sure they haven’t got some strange, wrong or risky ideas. They’ll also know that they can come to you with their questions.
So one of the most common mistakes made by parents is assuming that sex education is someone elses job!
Getting started with sex education can be hard. Maybe they are too young, or you’ve left it too late! There are many reasons that can stop us from starting sex education, and there are actually some really good reasons why you should be talking with your child about sex.
That first conversation about sex will be hard, whether you talk about it today or next year. And the sooner you start talking, the easier it will be before you get to the tricky stuff in the teenage years! You can find some ideas on how to start talking with your tween about puberty and sex in my puberty books for parents.
So one of the most common mistakes made by parents is putting it off until another day!
Sometimes parents think they need to know an awful lot to be a great sex educator, but you only need three things to get started.
And trust me, you already know more than your child does. You’ve had first-hand experience of going through puberty, having your first kiss, falling in love and having sexual intercourse!
So one of the most common mistakes made by parents is assuming that you don’t know enough!
Sex Ed Rescue has many resources that will help you with starting sex education.
You can find the most comprehensive online list of sex education books for children, with books on topics like puberty, where babies come from, body parts, pregnancy, sex, pornography, body safety, consent and more.
We also have a sex education resources list which includes some of the most reliable information that can be found on the internet.
And then we have our own parent resources that will make sure that you don’t make the most common mistakes made by parents!
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.