Ask Sherry: On raising children and life topics
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Hi, Sherry. This question is about raising children. I was wondering when it would be best to introduce certain life topics to a child.
For example, at what age would it be ok to start talking about romantic love/falling in love; then, about sex and sexual transmitted diseases; also, what would you say to your child about adult movies and at what age?
Would you say anything about that? If he was a teenager and you caught him watching those kind of movies, would you turn a blind eye, talk about it, forbid it? Is there anything sexually-related that you would present him as normal and other things as not ok?
When I was a child, parents usually didn’t even approach most of these topics; however, I think that a good education in this respect is also important and ignorance is even dangerous (the STDs). I’m curious about your ideas and opinions in this respect. Thank you!
Goodness this is a big topic! Honestly, I had the same upbringing as you. NO ONE talked about these questions, body questions, I learned it all in school, via friends or books…. which I have to tell you, is not necessarily the best way to learn it all.
I think the main thing, is I want to be someone he can come to, to ask questions about things, no matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable it makes me feel. I have to swallow how I feel about it (instinctively as a parent!) and broach the topics in a respectful, open-minded way.
If I don’t, and I make them forbidden or taboo hush hush topics, it makes them all the more confused. I would also be relieved to hand him a few books to read instead (after I have read them), on such topics, if he wants to ask more questions and I am about to pop a blood vessel from blushing and am desperate to flee the room. I have yet to find these books and read them.
I think even now, at his age, Little Bun is asking questions about how babies are made, and he is curious about the reproductive system of insects, animals, humans… and I let him watch videos on this topic, where I can – Dr. Binocs – is a good show that will go into it with a view of children learning it.
Long story short, I would not forbid, nor make him feel bad about being curious. THIS IS NORMAL and I have to teach him that his body, his consent (this is a good book on consent by the way), his sexuality, urges, whatever it is, is all part of being a human.
It makes me laugh because I am recalling the other day when he stood at the window and said: OH LOOK MOMMY, THE INSECTS ARE MAKING BABIES! Awww.. cute babies!
Two of the moths had their ends joined together and were mating on the window, and he watched it happen, with zero shame, guilt, and understood what it was because I remember explaining to him what was happening and why.
Then, the other half is just being open enough to have him ask questions. And if I answer them objectively, thoughtfully and emphasize that maybe sexual acts he may see or hear about on screens that I cannot control or be there to watch, when he is with friends who are equally as curious, are not actually what sex is all about, and to explain it is about an expression of love. Not something shameful.
It’s framing what he WILL see in the future, as: Hey, this looks like something maybe I would like to do in the future, but is it the right time? Right person? Right feelings and emotions?
I think raising him with a solid, emotional understanding of what it feels like to be him, as well as what his future partner(s) may feel like, is the first step to all of this being healthy and open, not closed-off or taboo talk.
Of course.. once I reach this stage… we will see. For now, I am solely focused on building a relationship with him where he can trust me. He can trust what I am saying is true and I will not lie to him or try to pretend things do not exist, because once you reach the stage where they feel like their friends know more or they trust THEM more than their parents, this is where it gets tricky.
They need a solid resource to go to, to ask serious and careful questions, and no one better than me (in my opinion) to help guide him. Or a trusted aunt/uncle (I am enlisting my friends to be ready when this happens!).
Long story short – at ANY TIME he asks questions, I answer objectively, carefully, and I try to find videos to help him get his answers. I draw pictures, and I explain it to his level at his age requirement.
If he does anything that is out of sheer curiousity, or talking about love, sex, transmitted diseases, I will do the same thing. Answer objectively, find videos and books, explain from the heart and keep the door open for him to ask me anything and to not feel embarrassed or ashamed about anything he is feeling or doing.
Then as he gets older, talk about protection, about feeling love before the sexual act (kids are becoming so much more mature at such a young age these days, I feel!)… and to help give him the mental fortitude and answers inside of him to stop and ask himself if what he is doing or hearing is right. Or how he feels.