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When to have the “sex talk”

Question:

My 8-year-old son is in third grade, and he recently heard a classmate reference sex. He has since casually mentioned the word “sex.” Should my husband and I take this opportunity to have “the talk” with him, or is he too young? Also, should we do this together, or should my husband talk to him alone?

 

Answer:

Now is certainly a good time to talk with your son about the basics of sex. It is a sensitive subject and one that needs to be treated with respect. Approach the subject from this point of view with your son.  

If the topic is approached as something that is awkward, embarrassing or “bad,” your son will adopt that point of view. So it is important that you stress that it is natural and good but private. Make your son aware that it is a topic to be treated with respect and that he is free to ask questions privately. Others may have different boundaries regarding the topic, and he needs to respect those boundaries.  

Tie sex in with other healthy relationships in general, such as friendship. 

You can also use your own marriage as an example of when sex is appropriate, natural and important. Address that sex is a demonstration of love and is an extension of the trust, compatibility and openness of a lifelong commitment. Sex falls within the boundaries of marriage and is a natural component of the relationship.  

Boundaries will be a very important part of your discussion with your son, especially at his age. It is important that you teach your son that any sexual contact at his age is inappropriate, and that he should come to you if anyone engages or attempts to engage in sexual acts with him.

Once you’ve established this foundation, you can discuss the very basic mechanics of sex. Allow your son to ask questions. Be matter-of-fact and straightforward. If you act awkward, your son will too. If you feel this should come from your husband, you can excuse yourself from the room. But do share the earlier mentioned conversation as a family since this reinforces sex as a natural part of married life. This way your son knows he can come to you, too, with any questions that he may have.

 

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