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.
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.