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Have ‘the talk’ with young people

By Nathan Rice

I knew it was time. I knew that I needed to go over everything with him, but I came up with many reasons to wait until another day. Maybe he already knew everything, and the discussion would just be awkward. Perhaps it wasn’t the right time. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to process the information properly. I could wait until it was covered in school.

Then Timothy got a haircut. It was only a change to his hairstyle, but that change highlighted how much he was already changing. The little boy was changing into a young man. I couldn’t put off the discussion any longer. It was time to have the talk.

A little later, we sat down together, and I shared that we were going to be talking about, “Men, women, how babies are formed, sexuality, and sex.” His eyes widened. He told me that he already knew a lot. “I’m sure you do,” I replied, “But I want to make sure you know all the facts and that what you know is true.”

It is tempting to put off the discussions about the facts of life with children, but we do them a disservice when we do not teach them this subject. There are many great resources available to help you prepare for the talk, and I suggest that you do prepare for the talk. While you know the facts, putting together a lesson plan can help keep you from stumbling in the discussion. Having an outline to follow is very beneficial.

I utilized a book created to help adults share the information with children in a direct yet tactful manner. The book provided tasteful diagrams of the male and female anatomy and talking points to assist you in each area of the lesson. While it may be possible to explain the facts of life without preparing a lesson, a properly prepared lesson will make things much easier.

While teaching, it is best to be direct and use proper terminology. Set the expectation for the child by informing him or her that you will be sharing the proper names of the male and female anatomy and speaking directly about how life begins. A direct and proper approach will remove much of the awkwardness that adults and kids both fear.

While we reference the lesson on the facts of life as “the talk,” it would be better referenced as “the discussion.” Ask the child questions as you go, allow him or her to talk, and encourage questions.

Observe your child during the discussion. Don’t give them more than they can handle in one session. The talk does not have to happen all in one day. It’s okay to split the talk into sessions, covering one topic at a time. Do what works best for you and your child.

Lastly, be prepared to share your beliefs on sex and sexuality and the rules you expect them to follow. This is a critical step that can be missed if you aren’t careful. Remember, sex isn’t all about the body. It is also about the heart, and it’s important that they understand this aspect as well.

It’s unfair to kids to leave this topic to the school system or the playground. Make the time to have “the talk” with your child.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.