father laughing about most common mistakes made by parents

The most common sex ed mistakes made by parents

Inside: So are you making some of the most  common mistakes made by parents, in regards to sex education? Find out what they are and how to not make them!

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. Myself included!

You’ll find more information about sex education in my Sex Education 101 page.

The most common mistakes made by parents

Here are some of the most common mistakes made by parents in regards to sex education.

Assuming that it’s only about sex

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 in this artcle on Hey Sigmund.

So one of the most common mistakes made by parents is assuming that sex education is just about sex.

Thinking it is just ‘one talk’

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.

family walking together

Sex education is a lifetime of ongoing conversations.

Assuming that it is someone else’s job!

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!

You keep on putting it off!

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!

Feeling inadequate

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.

  1. A basic understanding of the topic
  2. A willingness to initiate conversations with your kids.
  3. Knowing where to go to find the answers and resources.

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!

family talking

Open and honest conversations without shame.

Resources

My mission is to create resources that will help you to naturally talk to your kids about sex, all while respecting your personal values.

Which means that inside this website, you'll find lots of resources to help you with talking to your child about love, sex, relationships and growing up.

My Sex Education 101 page includes all of the information on sex education. You'll find lots of different blogposts to help with getting started, on a wide range of different topics.

You'll find videos about sex ed in my Sex Education Videos resource page that you can watch with your child or to learn more about sex education yourself.

You’ll also find an extensive range of sex education books for children, for kids of all ages. There's even some books in there for parents!

If you're looking for some ideas on how to talk to your child about bodies, How to Talk to Kids About Bodies, will help you to start naming the private body parts and to have shame-free conversations with them about bodies. It is filled with lots of different ideas on how to have natural converasations with your child about their body. 

You'll also find some child friendly anatomically-correct cartoon illustrations of the genitals and internal reproductive organs that are appropriate for children from the age of 3 and up. Let's Look at Different Body Parts is a printable that will help take the awkward out of talking to your child about their body, so they grow up feeling educated, confident, and comfortable in their own skin.

If you need some help with explaining sexual intercourse to your child, then How to Talk to Kids About Sex, will help you explain sex to your child in a way they will understand. It breaks it down into simple steps that  take the stress out of explaining!

If you're unsure about how to answer your child's questions about sex, then I have a number of different resources that will give you word-for-word answers that are age specific.

If you want a printed book to hold in your hands, then the  The Sex Education Answer Book will give you age-specific answers to the most common questions kid's ask parents about sex. Which means you don't need to worry about finding a child-friendly explanation that your child understands. 

If you want the answers to questions about a lot more than just sex, then Sex Ed Quickies is your best option. It has answers to 300+ questions  that kids commonly ask parents,  including how babies are made, sexual intercourse, body parts, puberty, relationships, pregnancy, birth, masturbation, sexual diversity, gender, pornography, STIs, contraception and much more.

About the Author Cath Hakanson

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 empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.

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