"Dad, you always said I could ask anything, right?"
"Sure, shoot!"
"Well I know all about how sex is explained in the book you gave me, but not how it really is. How was sex for you when you were young? Was it fun, scary? And how is having sex now? Because when you're my age, it is hard to imagine that someone at your age would still even have sex!"
There I was, sitting comfortably twenty seconds ago, and now just not so relaxed anymore! What to say?
What would you say?

That is right: "How was your first time, dad? How does it feel, mom?" Questions most parents are not prepared to deal with when they talk about sex.

Most parents find talking about sex difficult.
With each other, let alone with their kids. That is not new, although with all the changes over the last 40 years maybe a bit surprising. It is not very common for a parents to say that
"I wish my kids a great sex life".

But isn't that part of being happy, of being a content, satisfied adult? Most of us sure wish ourselves a great sex life, don't we?

Parents are the number 1 source of learning, of values for children and teens. Unless we don't give them anything to work with.
And then the other sources become the major ones where they learn: friends, the street, movies, music videos, porn magazines and videos. And is that really where you want them to learn about sex, about sexuality, sensuality?

And there are more, clear reasons to engage in talking with your kids:
- One in three women has a very negative (first) sexual experience (from unwanted touching to rape) that impacts them for many years.
- Teen pregnancies have declined with increased use of birth control (and with good information in hand!)
- The pressure to be a sexual object, to perform sexual services at ages like twelve and thirteen is dramatic (and traumatic) for young girls (and where do they get that image in the first place?)
- Boys are taught to see girls as sex providers, sex as a right, an entitlement. Sad but true. Just look at some music videos and you will know what I mean.

So, who talks with them about what a great sex life can be?

Many of us will think "Well, my own sex life isn't that great" Why? Often because we haven't talked about it for years and we are tired, caught up in keeping the family running and sex isn't all that exciting anymore. That is no reason not to talk to your kids. Do you want that for them?

What I think parents need to do:

1. Get comfortable with where your own sex life is at and with talking about it.
It doesn't matter whether you are a strict religious person or a person who sees sex as a personal freedom in anyway it is performed. Or anything in between (where most of us are!).
Your kids need to know where you stand and why. By looking at your sex life and getting comfortable to talk about it with others, you will increase your skill to discuss it when the time comes.

2. Think about what you wish your kids.
Do you want them to be happy, healthy adults, with a great sex life (within whatever view of sexuality you have)? Do you want them to know everything they need to know so they can be safe, happy and feel good about choices they make and limits they set? It doesn't matter whether you prefer abstinence or them to do whatever they like. Being informed, by you, will help them. Even if they do it differently, they at least do it informed!

3. Talk about it as early as possible.
Make it easy for your self, and them, by starting early. When questions are still in the "where do babies come from" range. That way you can practice and become comfortable with it, both of you.

If you haven't, be brave and get into it anyway, when they are teens! Introducing talking about sex, your body and how it will change, the feelings you will get, in your own way, teaches them not only the facts, but also to talk about it.

4. Educate yourself on materials/books you can share.
When you prepare by looking for what you deem appropriate materials, you will be ready when needed, and maybe learn a few things, too! (There are many very informative sites , both for parents and teens and as varied as our values are. Just click search on "teens and sex" and the whole spectrum will come up.)

5. Think about the worst thing they can ask you.
By thinking through what you would answer them, knowing that you are trying to prepare them for real life, for mistakes and delights, you can make a lot of questions less threatening. And the chance that you shut them down by getting defensive a lot smaller too.
And yes, your answer can and must be age and maturity fitting. Remember that most often it will be a direct question, needing a simple direct answer.
Not a lecture. (My daughter has a lecture alert "printed" on her face, the moment I get into too much talk!)
So if they ask about "When did you have sex for the first time?" your answer can be direct too: "On my wedding night" "When I was 18" "When I had been in a relationship for three years with..." And, o, 95% of us in North America did have sex before marriage, according to a recent, wide spread survey. So you are not alone, even is that is the value you hold as a goal to strive for.

6. Work on your own sex life. So you can be a role model for your child.
A happy parent, content with and in their body and sex life is the clearest role model you can wish your child. Seeing you, happy where you're at, makes them want to learn from you. And if you are not happy with your sex life, had terrible experiences, try to focus on what you would want them to experience.

7. Teach how to prevent sad experiences, but focus on creating the great ones!
We live in a fear and disaster focused society. Having a great sex life is about a good thing. So help them by teaching them to be prepared and then focus on how to create great experiences! Fear isn't a great thing as you're trying to have a good experience!

And yes, please teach them clear boundaries, open communication, knowing when and how to stop. Making it a two way street in all aspects is a great start. Teach them about both sides of the fence, what their partner may want, need, feel. About risks and diseases. And how to prevent them. And how a great sex life is with someone. Over a longer time. Knowing and trusting each other. Because however intense our one off experiences maybe, that is not what most of us say a great sex life is all about. It is about being with a partner, who you love. And yes, that counts for guys too.

So get ready to talk, about your first time, masturbation, good and bad experiences and yes even about orgasms. So you can, when you need to. In your way, from your values and with what you want you kids to know. And how you are comfortable with it all. Because, remember: if you don't, who will?

I was still pondering my answer, almost hoping the moment would pass, it seemed.
I took a deep breath.
"Well I wasn't that young actually, compared to some. At one time I had come close to having sex earlier but I backed off. I liked the girl, but I didn't want her to be my first. It was at a party and..."

I will leave you to find your anwers, because mine are not yours and that is what your kids will want to know.
I did feel better after talking it, because it became a precious moment, a sharing of something special and I was able to set the tone. One of respect, love and sharing.
And that was what was needed right then, for us.

So be brave and jump in, with your kids, so they know you are there to support them, even if it is about sex!

Author's Bio: 

Wouter van der Hall is the author of The Parent Program and a Parent and Life Coach
www.theparentprogram.com will give you easy access to positive parenting attitudes, tools and skills. The Parent Program is a 15 minute a day email/web based parenting program. You will feel more relaxed, confident and competent as you deal with parenting issues. 24/7 accessible at home and anywhere, so in your time, pace and comfort. To help you become the great parent you can be.

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