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How Young is Too Young to Talk About Sex?

How Young is Too Young to Talk About Sex?

Back in the 1960s and '70s it was normal to have the "sex talk" with your child somewhere around the time she went to high school. Whether that thinking was based in reality or the byproduct of a myth that kids weren't having sex yet, the common wisdom has shifted. Teenage pregnancy is rampant in the U.S., and many moms are deciding not to put off the all-important, if awkward, talk about sex. But how young is too young? Here, Circle of Moms members share issues to consider as you figure out when to broach the subject.

1. Signs of Curiosity

Dawn's daughter just turned 11 and is beginning to ask questions about sex. Dawn thinks this is her cue as a parent to step in and discuss her burgeoning sexuality. But she worries that it's too soon, that her daughter might not be ready. The overwhelming majority of moms respond, resoundingly, "No." Most agree that kids are ready when they start to ask questions or express interest, with some saying that this is true even as early as the age of seven. Your child might not talk overtly about sex, but there are other cues that she might be ready, such as what she reads and watches, as well as what her friends are doing and saying in your presence.


2. Avoiding Misinformation

A Circle of Moms member named Patience points out that you should tailor your conversation to your child's developmental stage and try to address any misunderstandings she has on the subject of sex. LaRhonda initiated a conversation about sex with her daughter at age nine, not so much because she wanted to, but because her daughter was getting misinformation from her friends at school. Moms agree that misinformation is potentially more harmful than truthful information, even if your child is not entirely prepared to hear it.


3. Not Having "The Talk" Has Consequences

Shannon recounts her own childhood with a mom who waited too late to "have the talk" with her. She ended up being pressured into sex by her boyfriend at age 12. She argues that information is power, and that a frank conversation might have prevented her from making this poor decision.

Broaching the Subject Gracefully

Many parents feel awkward having conversations about sex with their kids. But Megan recalls her own 'tween years, when she and her friends were very curious about sex and eager to get information. She suggests "stumbling" onto the topic, perhaps by referencing a video, article, or TV show that addresses sex in some way. Talking about it indirectly can open the door to an easier ongoing dialogue. Keri points out that many kids start to learn about sex around the fifth grade in health education classes, and that talking about what the school is teaching might be a good way to keep the lines of communication open.

Whatever you decide about the timing of this important conversation, let your child be your guide. Establishing good communication early in life will ensure that she trusts you enough to come to you when she really needs help.

Image Source: Courtesy of Dave Parker via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
anonymousanonymous anonymousanonymous 4 years
My parents never discussed anything about sex with me. Everything I learned was from my friends and it was very misconstrued. Because of the child sex abuse that I constantly hear from the media and knowing how kids tell each other the wrong things, I decided to tell my 2 girls about sex on their level. I tell them how sex is something shared between 2 people who are committed to each other forever. I also tell them about how many teenagers in my school where I teach are getting pregnant and making bad decisions instead of learning to control their urges. The discussions we have are fairly involved and they ask many questions but I try to be as honest and open as possible. I want for them to be honest and open with me when the time comes. I never felt that way with my mother and because of that, I made many bad decisions. I also point out good role models - teen girls and young women who put their focus into more important life decisions which having sex can ruin. I'm hoping they will take heed and not allow their impulses to take over.
Ninna74093 Ninna74093 5 years
there is no right age to talk about sex it depends on the child
shaneafarr shaneafarr 5 years
I think that the issue of sex should always be discussed as soon as your child can comprehend. Of course you give them info that is appropriate for their age and understanding. Concerning their body and etc and as they get older you explain a little more and on and on. It is unfortunate but our children hear and see so much so soon that you have to start talking early if you want them to have the correct information. You cant even watch a hamburger or shampoo commercial without sex it's sad but it's the world we live in. I have found that truth and honesty with children is the best even if it is uncomfortable talking about some things it is best.
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