Mental Health Media

“The Talk” Part 1: The Basics of Talking to Your Children About Sex

Welcome! Monica and I (Alejandra) are colleagues at a local organization that provides mental health services to our local school district. The communities we serve are primarily made up of low SES migrant and immigrant families. During our conversations, Monica and I  both realized that while we serve entirely different age groups; Alejandra-elementary school, Monica-high school, we had many similar concerns. One of these concerns was sex education. We both acknowledged that our Parents are not very open or proactive when it comes to educating and talking to their kids about sex. The truth is that there are a variety of reasons for this, such as religion, culture, tradition, and misinformation. As a result of our mutual observation, we decided to write a 3-part series providing our readers with resources, suggestions, and guidance on how to start having conversations about sex. We included what topics to cover, benefits, the role of culture, and some encouragement when awkwardness creeps in!

Part I: The Basics: How to Start the Conversation with Your Child

S E X! Probably one of the most avoided topics in our society, yet one the most important conversations you can ever have with your child.  So how can you start this conversation with your child, better yet, when do you start having these talks? Well, the answer may surprise you, you should start talking to your child from the time that they are born! Allow for these conversations to occur naturally, for example, when you’re potty training them and changing their diaper. During these early developmental stages, it’s essential to use appropriate vocabulary, for example, use penis, instead of pee pee and say breasts and cenos instead of “chi chis.”

If you as a parent or caregiver are feeling uncomfortable using these words, vocalize it and share about it with your child. Be introspective. Why does it bother you to use words like penis and vagina? Evaluate your own morals, opinions, and thoughts about sex.  It is essential that from an early age, you begin the conversation with your children about consent and boundaries.  Clearly explain that the only time anyone can touch you in areas that your bathing suit covers, is to keep you clean and healthy.  Explain that this should only be done by a caregiver or by a doctor in the presence of a caregiver.

The benefits of starting these conversations early on are abuse prevention, cultivating autonomy, cultivating a sense of self, strengthening communication, and strengthening your relationship with your children; this will allows your child to identify you as a safe person and will likely feel more comfortable communicating with you. “If you wait until your kid is 11 to talk about sex, the amount of information you’ll have to provide will be overwhelming. Trying to explain sex to an 11-year-old when you’ve never talked about anything sex-related before is kind of like trying to teach your child algebra before they know what numbers or letters are: It’ll be way too much all at once.” (todaysparent.com)

Check out some resources below that we’ve included to help you start this conversation with your child.

Five Sex-Positive Answers to the Question: Where do babies come from? 

  • Where do you think babies come from?
  • They grow in a uterus, which is a part of the body.
  • Babies are made when a sperm and ovum join together. Sperm comes from a person with testes, and an ovum (or egg) comes from a person with a uterus.
  • “When babies are ready to be born, they may come out through the parent’s vagina, or a doctor makes a small cut in the tummy area for the baby to come out of. If the baby has to come out from a cut in the tummy, they give the parent medicine, so it doesn’t hurt as much.
  • “That’s such a great question! I know a book that can help show you more about this. Let’s check it out together!”

Resources: Video on consent and good touch/bad touch video, can be found in the link below by the sex-positive families website (sexpositivefamilies.com)

 

About the author

Alejandra is a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Clinical Counselor (AMF #105469, APC# 4917). She graduated from Brandman University with a Masters in Psychology; she also holds a Bachelors in Psychology and Criminal Justice from California State University, San Bernardino. Currently, she works for a non-profit organization that provides mental health services to schools in southern California. In addition, she also works for a private practice where she specializes in working with children, youth, and families suffering from a variety of issues such as academic performance, learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, bipolar, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and grief.

Alejandra is passionate about creating a platform where individuals can be connected with quality mental health services and resources. Alejandra was raised in Mexico City and comes from a family of Argentinean immigrants. In her work, she strives to highlight the intersection between culture and mental health perceptions. Her personal interests include cooking, spending time with her family, going to Disneyland, and collecting vintage pieces. She also enjoys reading; some of her favorite books include Love’s Executioner by Irving D. Yalom, The Lucifer Effect by Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Sherlock Holmes, Mating in Captivity by Ester Perel, and The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani.

Monica Jauregui is an associate clinical social worker. She was born and raised in the Coachella Valley, however, she now lives in the San Bernardino area. Monica graduated in 2016 with a Master's in Social Work from the University of Redlands and got her Bachelor's of Arts degree, with a double major in Race and Ethnic Studies and Spanish. She has a passion for social justice and strives to bring awareness to social issues that affect the Latinx community, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.

Monica has experience working with survivors of domestic violence and survivors of trauma. Most of her work and most recent experience has been with severely and chronically mentally ill children. She has worked with incarcerated youth for a little over two years and continues to work with adolescents in a high school setting. Of all her roles, Monica's favorite title is Tia/Auntie. She loves spending time with her pit bull Bella and loves art, museums, plays, dance, and poetry. Her absolute favorite comfort food is her Nana's mole.