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Is Sex a Bad Word?

Towards a healthy understanding of sex

Published on 19 June, 2024

Photo credit: imtmphoto /

Focus Singapore


Helping families thrive

Sex should be associated with love, intimacy, commitment, but it has come to be associated with guilt and shame. How do we give our children a healthy understanding of sex? 

Primary years (7-9)

What happens when parents avoid talking about sex? 

Avoiding having conversations about sex tells your children that firstly, sex is a taboo topic, and it is embarrassing or even shameful to talk about. It also tells them that parents are not the people to talk to about sex, which may push them to learn about it from other potentially unreliable sources of information (eg. social media). This may lead your children to think about sex in ways that are unhelpful or untrue.  

At this tender age, you may want to approach the topic as a matter of fact, describing sex as “a natural process that happens between a man and woman when they are married, and it is how babies are created.”  

You should also refer to parts of the body related to sex using their accurate names (e.g., penis, vagina, womb) instead of using euphemisms.  

Through these actions, we show our children that sex is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. We will also be  signalling to our kids that they can come to us if they have any questions.  

Tween years (10-12) 

By this stage, if you have not broached the topic of sex, it is likely that they’ve heard something about it from their classmates or friends. 

You may want to open up the conversation by asking them what they know about it. 

Take advantage of everyday situations to start conversations about sex. For instance, if you come across a scene in a TV show or movie that portrays sex in a way that contradicts your values regarding sex, you can use this opportunity to share with your children your opinions and values. You can also start to introduce to your children the idea that sex is a good and beautiful part of marriage. 

By bringing these conversations up organically in everyday life, you create a culture of openness in the home, where such topics, widely deemed as sensitive, can be discussed regularly. 

Take advantage of everyday situations to start conversations about sex.

Teen years (13-15) 

It is likely that your teen would have had some exposure to the topic of sex and sexual orientation.  

While it is important to warn your children of the dangers of sex in inappropriate contexts (e.g., unplanned pregnancies, teenage pregnancies, STIs and STDs, etc.), it is also equally important to talk about the positive aspects of sex when it is done in the appropriate context of marriage. 

Within marriage, sex is more than just an act of temporary sensual pleasure. It is an expression of a couple’s love and commitment to each other, which has the power to deepen the sense of safety and intimacy in the relationship.  

Highlighting the positive aspects of sex within marriage helps to correct the misconception that sex is taboo, while reinforcing the idea that sex within marriage is nature’s way of allowing for procreation.  

Ultimately, the key principle is to create a non-judgmental atmosphere where your children feel safe to talk about any topic in life, including sensitive topics like sex, and to share their feelings and concerns with you.  

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!

Focus Singapore


Helping families thrive