During a recent presentation to parents on the problems surrounding pornography (which I’ll be sharing more of in the weeks to come) a fellow presenter made this statement:
“Gone are the days of the one and done Talk.”
I want to tell you this is absolutely true.
The infamous “talk” about the birds and bees doesn’t work.
It can’t be one and done. It must be something different.
- Studies will tell you the number one voice that is educating our kids about sexuality is the internet.
- The average age a child see pornography for the first time is 11 years old.
- Social media has created unique situations for students to navigate that they aren’t equipped to handle.
By the time you get the courage to share “the talk”, your son or daughter might already have been educated. The words you share are not being heard fresh, but being filtered through what they think they already know.
On the ground level working with adolescents, I can tell you that I’ve seen plenty to believe the above. As a parent, I want to invite you to view this conversation differently.
Gone are the days of “the talk”. Instead, “the talk” is an ongoing conversation.
A conversation starting as early as 2 years old!
HOW TO HAVE AN ONGOING CONVERSATION
You may have heard the analogy that kids brains are like sponges. I haven’t researched this scientifically, but I think this is helpful.
Imagine that you wait to have “the talk” when they are 15. As you begin to share, they are filtering everything you say through what they have already heard, seen, or experienced. The internet, their friends, stories of sexting or taking pictures for your boyfriend/girlfriend have already been taking up space in their brain. Your words are clashing against those and your son or daughter is trying to reconcile it all.
Now imagine you start when they are 2 and you share them the appropriate names of body parts.
As they move into elementary age, you start to share about appropriate boundaries and privacy. You talk to them about what makes them who they are and it’s not just looks or what people see on the outside.
Late elementary and into middle school, you begin to start talking about sexual systems, how their body is changing, and relationships with the opposite sex.
As they are leaving middle school and entering high school, you have laid the ground work and you at this point – you engage. You hear about something, you talk to them about it. They ask you a question, you do your best to answer. You continue all the conversations you’ve already had and you take it a step further.
Does this make you nervous, don’t be. Remember their brains are like sponges, so…
Now when they hear the conversations or see things on the internet, they are filtering that against what you have already told them. They are making decisions weighing the content of what you have already taught them and not just what they are seeing or hearing from friends and culture. If their brain is a sponge, it’s already pretty full and doesn’t have much room for the other stuff.
- When your middle school daughter is being asked over text to send a boy a picture of herself in her underwear, she understands boundaries and relationships and can make a better decision.
(I’ve recently read articles where girls are sharing these photos not because of any sexual desire, but simply other social pressures. Parents of sons and daughters let’s talk about this directly!)
- When your son sees pornography, he is not internalizing – “this must be what sex is like”, but has heard from you what sex is and what a loving relationship is like.
Gone are the days of the one and done talk. It’s time to get in the game. Don’t be afraid. You will want to hesitate, postpone, or save it for another day.
Go ahead and talk about it.
Your kids need you to.