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The Talk: Straightforward Conversation with Your Kids

Fall in step at the beginning of this "Growth Chart" journey. Trepidation? We'll walk this parenting road together (and talk along the way).

Last fall, “The Growth Chart” featured a series on True Beauty. If you missed it, I hope you’ll read it now. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart.

But my concern is not just for girls. It’s for all of us: how we view ourselves
versus how we are "purposed" to be.

As the New Year unfolds, I find myself embarking on the journey of a new series, but first, Dear Patch Reader, I must make a confession.

I am a Sexpert.

Some people have called me that anyway. (You know, an expert on sex? Yes, this is much to my children’s dismay. “Don’t say that, Mom,” my son said one day. “It reminds me of ‘pervert.’” He was not amused when I laughed.)

It’s no wonder kids have trouble sorting through what is appropriate talk about sex and what crosses a line. “Anything goes” in a television drama or sitcom (without consequence), yet not everything feels right or good or appropriate in real life. We can make all kinds of jokes about sex, but when we start talking about sex in a way that’s serious, real and appropriate, people squirm.

My son knows I’m not perverted. I chuckled because I knew what he was saying: He wouldn’t want anyone to think of his mom that way (I’m pretty sure no one does). But there’s so much in life that is twisted, and my son has grown to be fiercely protective of me (as well he should be as a young man. I can’t wait to talk about gender roles!).

But who wants to talk about sex with their parents? To be honest, I don’t. (My parents never talked to me about sex when I was growing up ... ever). Should my kids want to talk about it with me?

Actually, I do talk about sex with my kids. For the most part, they seem relatively comfortable with the topic as it comes up. It’s just another dinner table conversation.

How did we get to this point? We TALKED to our kids. From birth. As things
naturally came up. All through the day. As we sat at home. As we walked
together. Or rode in the car. At the dinner table. Or a game. At bedtime.
Always in a way that was appropriate for their age and fitting for the
situation.

I am a parenting columnist. That does not mean I am a perfect parent. (Far from it!) In reality, I may not be an expert at anything, but this is one thing that I feel I did well when my kids were very young, and I believe that we are reaping benefits now.

If you have small children, I hope you will read this series and learn early what I learned from watching the good example of others concerning honest, forthright parenting. If your kids are older, and you’ve never talked to them about sensitive issues, it may not feel comfortable at first, but it is possible, and it will get better in time. Perhaps you’ll find some tools that will help you open the dialogue.

I’m calling the series “The Talk,” (also the title of a seminar I’ve presented to parenting groups). It will feature tips on how to make “the talk” successful, addressing hard questions (like when your 5-year-old asks, “Mom, what does the ‘F’ word mean?”), nurturing gender-identity and innate roles, how fathers draw out the femininity in their daughters and shape the masculinity of their sons, and more.

Here is a preview of one of an upcoming column:

Dear Son — You were very young when you asked me,

"Mom, where do babies come from?"

I answered you, and the conversation continued from there … How did
I answer? Forthrightly. You trusted that I had given you the truth (I had-- as much as you could handle in that moment) and you rewarded that trust with more questions. I treasure the moments of the TALK that we have had. Keep asking, my precious one. I’m here, for as long as you care to come to me for answers.

If you want to know more about that conversation ("THE TALK"), exactly
how I responded and the questions that ensued, I trust you will read upcoming columns.

I believe that many of our insecurities as women and men come from not having a clear view of our sexuality — and how much a part of us it really is, why it’s important to embrace and protect that part of us that is not just confined to our “sex parts” but is interwoven in our mind, body and spirit.

Whether or not I’m a “Sexpert,” I have some things to say. Thank you in advance for coming alongside me as we walk the path of this series.

Pete January 20, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Great intro piece to what I'm sure will be a great series! I still remember well my early inquiries around 4-5 years old, and my mother's truthful answers!

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