Conversations about hard topics like sex, masturbation, or porn can feel scary and awkward for everyone involved. A simple formula can help make the experience positive so that it happens again and again. Create a great conversation by sandwiching the contents of your conversation between Affirmation and Availability. Just like a good book, your kids will remember most how the conversation started and how it ended.
Any time your child asks a question about a hard topic like sex, you need to start with affirmation
- What an amazing body God gave you.
- I love that you have a curious mind.
- What a great question.
- I know this was hard to tell me but I am so proud of you.
- Thank you for having the courage to talk to me.
- I can see how this might seem confusing. It is for me too.
- This world is confusing, isn’t it.
Acknowledge and affirm your child to immediately set them at ease. Watch and see if they visibly relax. We want them to know that talking to us, or asking a question is a good thing. Beware of making them feel like they did something wrong because they asked something like, “what is a blow job?” Our kids need to know that no question or topic is off limits.
Before quickly spouting off your answer, take a minute to gently gather more information. With the tone of simple curiosity, you might ask
- What have you heard about that?
- Where did you hear that?
- What are other kids saying about that?
- What do you think it is?
Make sure that your kids do not feel like you are investigating them. If they become defensive, immediately back off, and apologize. You want to create trust so that you can have real conversations.
Answer their question in age appropriate ways. Keep it simple, but honest. Wait a moment to see if they have additional questions, or ask them. Include God in the conversation.
Every conversation should end by telling them that you are so glad that they came and talked to you. Remind them that you are always available, and they can talk to you about anything. Even if they’ve seen or done something that feels wrong, or dirty, they won’t be in trouble. You just want to help them figure things out. Your kids need to know that there are no questions off limits. They need to know that they can come to you even when they make a mistake. You are always available and will always love them.
Just like we sometimes take time to process, our kids may need to process before they have additional questions. To communicate your constant availability and your desire to fully answer their questions, follow- up a few days later. Remind them of your conversation, and then ask if they have any more questions. Don’t push them, just check in.
Though the content you communicate is important, your kids won’t hear it until you put them at ease. Sandwich the content of a hard question, by immediately affirming. Help them relax enough to hear you. Then gently gather information so you know where they are coming from and what misconceptions you might need to straighten out. Answer their question at hand and ask if they have more questions. Then close the conversation by reminding them how glad you are that they talked to you. They can talk to you about anything!