In our house, we have two daughters, the oldest just beginning puberty. We have had the talks about body changes and the physical side of puberty. To be honest, this has been pretty easy – our daughters are in an all-girls school and the teachers there are excellent at having these discussions in class and one-on-one with the kids, at age appropriate stages. We have supplemented it, but both took the news pretty much in stride.
But the sex talk. In my mind, there are two issues: The When and The What.
On the When, I took advice from a wise friend with older children who told us to unpack the conversation about sex at a pace you think your kids need to hear it. Our friend was adamant that there was ‘no right age’ to begin discussing sex, but rather it depended on many factors related to the individual child’s circumstance and maturity. I realize there are many parents who either want to delay the discussion as long as possible and others who want to start the conversation almost as soon as their kid is out of the womb. I am a proponent of neither of these extremes.
So for us, it is Now. Our daughter is, by many measures, young for her age. And I say this in the nicest/most admiring way possible. She has just turned 12 and she is in no hurry to become a teenager. She has lamented that she feels some of her friends seem to anxious to grown up – as they slow dance at school dances, text one another all evening and hang out at coffee shops after school. But still, it is time. She is beginning to develop breasts and it will be impossible for her not to notice that many of her friends are beginning to take an interest on boys and their own sexuality.
So, much to her chagrin, the conversation will begin in earnest this spring.
As my wife and I develop our strategy, we will share our thoughts and learnings and, without compromising my daughter’s privacy, share how it goes. “Lou, Lou, Lou, its the beginning of a great adventure”.