I am not shy about sex. Not even a little bit. I laugh at a culture that is okay showing our kids movies full of non-sensical, gratuitous violence but that blushes at showing people enjoying sex, which is something that happy, healthy people are hard-wired to do.
One of my favourite documentaries is Let’s Talk About Sex due to it advocating a frank, open dialogue within families, and I read Dr. Laura Berman’s book Talking To Your Kids About Sex so many times that I probably need a new copy. It’s thanks to her that sex is an ongoing, open topic of discussion at my house (rather than a single, awkward “talk” to get through). I highly-recommend both, if you have kids and don’t ever want them to feel ashamed of their emerging sexuality. I’ve even talked with writer friends (sometimes using a pseudonym, based on how embarrassed my kids might be) about my views on parenting and sex education. Check out my points of view in Ann Douglas’s article and Emma Waverman’s article.
Sex talks at my house include the nuts-and-bolts of sexuality, reproduction, sexually-transmitted infections and contraception/protection – as well as pleasure, love, expectation, the future, risks, rewards, feelings. I think they all go hand-in-hand and should be discussed together. I also make sure to pepper the discussion with some first-hand experiences of my own, letting kids know that there were things I had been confused about and experiences that had surprised me when I was a teen and what I learned.
I want my kids to know that nothing embarrasses me about sex, they can ask me anything, at any time. I also tell them they should not be embarrassed, but that a good rule of thumb is that if they aren’t comfortable talking about sex with a boyfriend/potential partner, it’s probably a good sign that they aren’t ready to take that step.