Sexual Health Through Education
As parents, we already play a major role in our children’s sexuality education and we can’t change this fact even if we wanted to. Our children grow up in our homes and learn from us by observing. We become models of how to be men and women, have relationships, show affection and resolve conflict. In these ways, we are the most important sexuality educators our children have.
In order to take advantage of our role, we need to take action, especially if our children don’t ask questions. The way to do this is by talking with our children about sexuality. By making it an open subject, we teach our children that sexuality is like everything else - natural, real, part of life and something that is okay to talk about. When we don’t talk about sexuality, we give them the message that this topic is not proper to discuss, to learn about, or to have questions about.
While we are being silent, our children are picking up manipulative messages from advertising and the media. They can also pick up a lot of misinformation from their friends – who may not have any better information than your children. Children and teens need people in their lives to help them sort out all the different messages they will get from the world around them.
Parents sometimes worry that giving information to children at too young an age can be harmful in some way. Answering a child’s question with an honest answer gives the message that they can come and talk to you about sexuality issues whenever they need to. Also, providing sexuality information to teens doesn’t encourage them to go out and experiment with sex. Research shows that adolescents who are well informed and comfortable talking about sexuality with their parents are most likely to postpone intercourse. And, if they do get involved in sexual activity, these teens are more likely to behave responsibly – showing respect for themselves and their partners and taking care to prevent an unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.
As much as we might want our teens to postpone sexual intercourse until they reach a certain age, level of maturity, or until they get married, we have to accept that it’s their decision – not ours. Once we can accept that fact, our role as sexuality educators becomes one of providing information and guidance, rather than trying to control their behaviour.
The messages we give our children, at every age, are important because a positive sense of their own sexuality is important to their overall well-being as they grow and develop into adults. A person with a positive sense of their sexuality is able to:
Need some helpful information to share with your teen or adolescent children? Check out the Growing Up Ok! section of our website!