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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Sexuality and young children - how to educate?

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Author Topic: Sexuality and young children - how to educate?
Member # 10023

Icon 1 posted      Profile for MamaJama     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am a young mother with a young daughter. I grew up in a home that wasn't very open when it came to sexuality. I am a firm believer that sex education begins as early as possible in the form of being open and honest. My concern is that having come from a family that wasn't very expressive in regards to sex that I may be going about educating my young daughter all wrong. I want to be open with her and let her know that all things sex related (at this age particularly her body parts and their names as well as the curious touching young children do)are perfectly natural but I also want her to understand that as a child some things are not for discussion/action in public. I want her to feel completely comfortable about talking to me as she grows up.

Our most recent run-in has been with the word "sex". It's everywhere. On the radio, in the news, on commercials! On commercials for the news! I don't feel that a graphic explanation of sex is appropriate for my 6 year old. I have come across an interesting way of explaining it in relation to physical gender which if it comes up again may be the approach I use for now.

I'd like to know what approach other parents have used when conveying sex/sexuality/everything sexual to a young child and how they carried it over into their children's adolescence/young adulthood.

I'd also like to hear from young adults about what made them feel most comfortable talking to their parents about sex and anything they may remember from their childhood that stands out as letting them know it was as natural as asking how to spell "cat".

And finally, from the educators, I want anything you've got.

I don't want my child to be as alone sexually as I was growing up. Luckily, I was strong in my convictions as to what was right for me and my body at a time when decisions had to be made. As well, I knew my parents all too well and knew that at least until I reached a point where no one could safely make a decision for me I had to go it alone. I waited to tell my parents that I was pregnant at 17 until I was 4 months along. Those first four months I took a friends (I was in college and she was a bit older than me)leftover prenatal vitamins and spent very little time with my parents because I knew that their plan for my pregnancy would be different than mine. I didn't know if I was strong enough to stand against them. I lost those first four months as well as the following months to unhappiness, fear and loneliness because I couldn't go to my parents knowing that they would be there for me unconditionally. As well, they lost that time because, I think, they were in denial of the fact that I was a sexual being in combination with being their child. I know that the type of support I'm talking about doesn't only have to do with sex, but in my situation I believe it had very much to do with sex.

Even if my child ends up following a path that I don't forsee for her now; whether it be educational, extracurricular, whatever it is that I will inevitably disagree with my child on I want her to always know that I'm there for her and that she can talk to me about anything. Maybe I'm more sensitive to the type of support that comes from early sexual education because of my particular situation and the circumstances following her entry into this world. I just want to do everything in my power to ensure that given the same situation she and I won't waste all that time and cause each other all that pain that my parents and I did almost 7 years ago. Help anyone?! Comments?

Posts: 2 | From: Houston, TX USA | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 1386

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With my son, I found it best to answer his questions as he asked them, in an age appropriate way. In other words, take your lead from your child.

There are many good books about this to help a child understand puberty and reproduction. Two that I found very helpful were "What's Happening to Me?" and "Where Did I Come From" both by Peter Mayle. While the originals are now 20 years old, they are still in print. Here is a link to one source.

I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.

- Galileo

[This message has been edited by Bobolink (edited 02-16-2005).]

Posts: 3442 | From: Stirling, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 21937

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I'm with Bobolink in that you need to teach according to your child's personality and level of understanding. My sister's children are incredibly bright, so her son knew the biological processes of sex and pregnancy, along with all the technical names for those body parts, by the time he was 3 and his mother was pregnant with his sister. He was also incredibly isolated, so she didn't have many worries about him saying things to his peers.

My older son has just turned six, and I was sure the subject would come up when I was pregnant with his brother, but for the most part, he could care less. I've explained that girls and boys have different parts, explained what the different parts are, and I've asked him what he thinks sex is (usual response of kissing/hugging). My husband and I are not always so good about censoring our conversations when he's within earshot, so he hears us talking about something we've read or something we've seen on tv and he will repeat what we've said. The sex talk will probably end up coming from me, since his dad seems very reluctant to tell him, and given that he understands things at a different level than his cousins, I probably can't be as technical as my sister was. Considering his father says he and a girl "experimented" in the bathroom when he was 6 and in first grade, I'm thinking that it's probably never too young to tell children what sex is and why it's usually better to wait until you're older, and especially how to protect yourself if you don't want to wait.

Once I got my period and my mother could tell my peers and my health class had begun to teach me things, she was very open with me about the subject, but I don't think she should have waited that long. I think sex-ed communication should start as young as possible, on as simple a level as possible, so that your children are comfortable coming to you to talk about anything.

Posts: 6 | From: Cedar Rapids, IA USA | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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Member # 13245

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You mentioned you wanted a younger person's opinion. I'm 16, and while no one is perfect, I believe my mother did an excellent job as far as the sex talk is concerned. I know I could ask/tell her absolutely anything without being judged. She would support me, or at least help me to make a positive choice, in anything I did. I'm not sure if anything she said specifically made things this way, but once when she was seeing a guy, I asked her something like "Did you have sex with him?" Her response was to get rather embarrassed about it all, as I was only about 12 or 13. I explained to her that if she wanted me to tell her when I was having sex, she better tell me! Since then, we basically talk about everything, although I realize now that who she does what with is mostly her own business. The openness is great.
However. When I was younger, I had no real concrete sex education. I was too shy to ask questions, and was never really educated. My favourite source, though, was books. They could tell you what you wanted to know, and no one would know you asked. Even when I was about 7, I was very curious, and would try to find out everything I could. My suggestion is find a couple of really good books that fit with your values and such, and make them available. I could read when I was 3 or 4, but I'm not sure if that is normal. Keep the lines of communication open, provide lots of information that doesn't require uncomfortable conversations, and keep things light. Sex can be a really heavy subject, but if it's an every day thing, life is easier!
Hope some of this helps! sorry to be so long winded.

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Posts: 593 | From: Kamloops, BC, Canada | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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