TIME magazine published article in honor of October being National Sex Education Month about parent’s skills when it comes to discussing sexuality with their kids.
Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood, President of Planned Parenthood discusses situations where our kids’ comments and questions can leave us speechless. I think every parent must wonder at some point where their child comes up with what comes out of their mouth.
Instead of stuttering and stammering, these can be wonderful teachable moments. Richards points out that while parents are talking to their kids about sex at an increasing rate-currently 82%, information given is not specific enough. The biggest area where parents are lacking is giving enough information about how to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections in a concrete manner. Only about 60% of parents are attempting this according to Richards. It is not just enough to tell kids not to have sex and they won’t get pregnant. While parents are not always comfortable talking about how to use a condom correctly, they also may not be aware of how to do so. Some parents need sex education of their own to learn about anatomy, contraception and more.
An important thing to remember is that good sex education is life long. It starts at birth and ceases only at death because that is where our sexuality begins and ends. Children should be taught correct names for body parts and it should go from there. Many teens report wanting to know about more than condoms and body parts. They want to know about love, dating and healthy relationships.
Find teachable moments in your everyday life with your kids. There are constant unused opportunities in daily life that could be used to foster discussion about sexuality. Richards points out that parents do not have to feel alone or unprepared for this. Planned Parenthood has a plethora of literature and teaching tools parents can use to help them.
Parents can incorporate their own values into sex education as well. Giving them the facts while at the same time discussing what you feel is appropriate behavior is the best option for parents who want this information to come from the home.