Most mums will find it hard to believe that their child is going through puberty when it seems that only yesterday you were fussing over ear infections, sore throats and fevers. However, childhood can pass in what seems the blink of an eye and now that your child is a tween, it’s time that you consider sex education.
Girls will generally experience the challenges of puberty between the ages of 10 and 12 and not surprisingly, it tends to happen a little bit later for boys (between 12 and 15 years of age). Although, like any developmental milestones, there is a wide range for what can be considered normal.
We have included some tips that we have gathered from our mums about how best to broach the subject of sex with your tween:
Take advantage of opportunities: If a TV programme, magazine article, music video or film raises the question of responsible sexual behaviour, parents should use this as an opportunity to discuss the topic. Also take advantage of everyday moments spent together such as the car journey to school or cooking a meal together.
Try to be as honest as you can: If you find the conversation awkward, explain that to your child. However, you should also ensure they understand just how important the conversation is and that should know that they can always come to you with any questions they might have.
Be direct: It’s important that your child understands how you feel about specific issues, such as sexual intercourse or oral sex. Giving your child as much information as possible about the risks and downfalls of teenage sex including emotional distress, sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy means that he or she will have all the information they need to keep themselves safe.
Don’t just stick to the facts: While it’s important that your tween understands all the facts about sex, it’s just as important that you discuss feelings, values and attitudes towards sex. Explain the benefits of waiting until they are older and ready emotionally for a sexual relationship.
It’s also important that your tween understands that you are aware of the pressures of adolescence but they should never feel pressure to do something that they feel uncomfortable with. Make sure that your tween knows that it’s ok to discuss sex with you whenever he has any questions. If your tween does come to you, let him know that you are glad he has asked you this.