How to Talk to Your Kid About Sex? Ex-actress Jacelyn Tay and Experts on the Dos and Don'ts
The Straits Times
Republished with Permission
16 January 2022
Experts that The Straits Times spoke to say having an honest and open talk about sex does not encourage children to try it.
"Studies show that having conversations with parents about sex helps youth delay sexual activity while preparing them to make healthy decisions about relationships in future," says Ms June Yong, a family life expert at Focus on the Family Singapore.
Do start early and keep talking
Take a factual, age-appropriate and incremental approach.
Says Focus on the Family Singapore's Ms Yong: "It is best to start young and start small, tackling topics such as the proper names of body parts and biological differences between male and female."
Ms Yong recommends titles such as Who Has What?: All About Girls' Bodies And Boys' Bodies by Robie H. Harris and I Said No! A Kid-To-Kid Guide To Keeping Private Parts Private by Zack and Kimberly King.
Do explain what happens during puberty
Ms Yong advises parents to take time to help their kids understand the changes they will experience, and encourage them to raise concerns or questions.
For instance, a girl will start developing breasts and menstruating. A boy's voice will deepen and he will experience an increase in height, muscle mass and the size of his penis and testicles.
Parents with sons can also have conversations about the possibility of erections and wet dreams.
"We can talk about what these are and when it can happen, for example, during a full bladder, sexual arousal and sleep. Assure them that erections are a normal part of being a male teen and not something to be embarrassed about," says Ms Yong.
Holistic sexuality education does not just comprise talking about the physical aspect of sexuality, but involves the whole person, including the intellectual, emotional and relational aspects, says Ms Yong.
"Most people associate sex with acts of intimacy with a partner, but wholesome sexual attitudes actually begin with loving and accepting yourself and being comfortable with who you are.
"Parents should be mindful not to instil shame about their children's bodies or use fear-based tactics to turn them off sex, such as perpetuating the myth that sex is dirty or messy."
Do attend parenting programmes
Look out for workshops run by Aware and Focus on the Family Singapore to help equip you with evidence-based knowledge about consent, relationships and sex, and tools to begin the conversations with your kids.
You can also get useful tips from the Talk About Sex column on the website of Focus on the Family Singapore.
To help make the discussion easier, Ms Yong suggests that parents read Good Pictures, Bad Pictures: Porn-proofing Today's Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenson.
Don't lose your cool
Most importantly, make your child feel safe that he or she can ask you anything.
Ms Yong [says,] "Value connection more than correction. This means that when they do approach you and admit to seeing or doing something they shouldn't have, you'll have to keep your composure and not lose your cool.
"When you are connected to each other, sex can be just another topic you talk to each other about."
"Mum, dad, I'm in a relationship"
Ms Yong from Focus on the Family Singapore says some teens may think that being in love means having sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
"Help your teens process this by not just talking about sex as a pleasurable act, but by placing sex within the context of a loving, respectful and committed relationship."