Talking to your kids about…
Dear Ate Anna:
I have a very hard time talking to my children about bodies and relationships. I just don’t know what to say. If they learn about these things in school, do I still need to talk to them about it?
Thank you for your email, and for reaching out with your concern. Parenting is never easy!
Children in the Manitoba school system are taught about bodies, relationships and sexuality. They begin learning about it in elementary school with topics such as body parts and privacy, and continue to learn through high school about relationships, pregnancy, and other topics such as sexually transmitted infections.
Even though the school curriculum covers these topics in class, it is still important to talk with your children about bodies, relationships and sexuality.
A new study in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds that the stronger the communication is between parents and their children about sexuality, the more likely the children are to practice safer sex when they are older. The more information and support young people feel they have from their parents about their dating relationships, the more comfortable they are to ask questions, and the more equipped they are to make good choices about their body.
I know it can feel very hard talking to your children about sex and bodies. Just like other things in life, the more you practice, the more comfortable you become. Each time you talk with your child about sex and sexuality, the easier it will be. Don’t worry about feeling embarrassed. Try to show your child that bodies and relationships are normal and healthy things to talk about together.
When your children are very young, you can talk with them about consent and privacy. You can let them know that every person has a body, all bodies look different, and all bodies deserve respect and care. As they grow, you can talk about healthy relationships, how to care for their bodies, and how to stay safe online and at school. When your kids get to an age where they start to date, you can provide them information on local teen clinics, healthy communication, and you can also talk to them about pregnancy prevention and making good choices for themselves and their bodies.
SERC has a handout available with more tips on talking to your children about sexuality. If you would like a copy please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we can send it to you.
Thank you again for your e-mail. Be gentle with yourself, and brave also. Remember, each time you talk to your kids about sexuality and bodies, it will get easier!
Ate Anna welcomes your questions and comments. Please write to: Ate Anna, Suite 200-226 Osborne St. N., Winnipeg, MB R3C 1V4 or e-mail: email@example.com. Visit us at www.serc.mb.ca. for reliable information and links on the subject of sexuality.