Articles for Parents

Everything listed under: sex

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    Sons, Sex and Standards

    An interesting study just released in JAMA Pediatrics should grab our attention. The study, a joint effort between Johns Hopkins University and The Guttmacher Institute, raises a warning flag about boys and early sex.

    Two national surveys showed that between 4 and 8 percent of boys reported having sex before they were 13. Black males were most at risk, followed by Hispanic males. In some metropolitan areas, more than a quarter of young, African American men reported having sexual intercourse before age 13.

    Young men having sex before age 13 usually haven’t received the appropriate sex education and services, and we need a better system to respond to their needs,” says Arik Marcell, M.D., M.P.H., senior author of the study and associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. 

    “The cultural double standard about sexual behavior in the United States, in which it is OK for young boys, but not girls, to be sexually active, has prevented us from effectively addressing male adolescents’ vulnerabilities and their healthy sexual development,” Marcell adds.

    Marcell explained that he has heard boys and adolescents talking about their first sex encounters in a way that suggests they didn’t anticipate, understand or know what was happening or what’s appropriate and what’s not. It is concerning that such early sex experiences happening to boys could be unwanted and influence their future health. Marcell and his colleagues used the survey data to attempt to get a better look at the scale and pattern of this problem across the nation.

    The investigators underscored the importance of recognizing young people’s perspectives, and also noted that reports of whether a first sexual experience was wanted may be influenced by gender and race expectations, stereotypes, peer pressure and coercion. Parental education also appeared to have an impact. For instance, boys whose mothers graduated from college were 69 percent less likely to have sex before 13.

    As to why there are such variations in early sex rates, Guttmacher Institute researcher Laura Lindberg says, "Adolescent males' attitudes and values about their sexuality and masculinity are influenced by the social context of their community. 

    “Our findings reflect that where you live exposes you to different social norms about manhood," she added. "The variation across settings means that programs for young people's development and health need to be tailored and responsive to the communities they are in."

    In many instances, it seems like massive strides have been made when it comes to educating kids about sex, but this study clearly indicates there is still work to be done. All young people need to receive sex education and parents need to be ready to have open, honest and ongoing talks with their kids. 

    The best time to start talking with children about sex is when they are young. Look for teachable moments, such as when you see a pregnant woman or a peer's new brother or sister, as a natural discussion-starter.

    Focus your conversation with elementary-age children on:

    • the correct names of sexual organs and body parts,
    • explaining sex and reproduction,
    • personal boundaries,
    • pregnancy, and
    • building healthy relationships.

    If they are old enough to ask questions, they are old enough to receive correct answers, but make sure to clarify your child’s question. When you understand the question, answer it briefly and simply. Sometimes kids have questions, but they are afraid to ask. This is why it is important for parents to look for opportunities to discuss these important matters.  

    Talking about sex is just as important as talking about drugs and alcohol, smoking, stranger danger and pornography. If this feels overwhelming to you, you might want to practice talking privately with your spouse or another adult first. The most important thing is that conversations are happening and you are an askable parent.

    This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on April 14, 2019.

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    Can Your Kids Ask You About Sex?

    Research says that young people who "sext" are more likely to have sex, and that dating violence is on the rise. 

    So, picture this scenario: Your child sits down at the dinner table and asks, “What is sexting? What is sex?” or “How do babies get inside their mommy’s tummy?” 

    In response, would you:

    A. Laugh and change the subject?

    B. Get irritated and tell your child that those questions are not appropriate at the dinner table?

    C. Thank your child for asking such a great question and either seek to answer it or tell them that you will talk with them about it after dinner?

    Just thinking about answering these questions has and will cause anxiety for many parents. When asked about talking with her children about sex, one mother replied, “My parents didn’t talk with me about it. I think I would just die if I had to talk with my son about it. He’ll figure it out.”

    Let's consider that statement for a moment.

    When young people are left to figure things out for themselves, the results can disastrous. Parents can help their children/teens understand that relationships based on sex aren't healthy or cool by talking openly with them about topics such as sex, love, lust and romance. It's also an opportunity to help your child think about how certain actions now can impact their goals for the future.

    If you are on the fence about talking to your children about sex, sexting and the like, consider the benefits.

    • Children develop an accurate understanding about their bodies, and about sexuality, instead of getting inaccurate information from friends or the media.
    • They learn that talking to you about sex doesn't have to be embarrassing.
    • You equip your child with information they need to make wise choices for the rest of their life.
    • You are teaching them life skills like self-discipline, problem-solving and planning for the future… skills that will help them move toward productive living.

    So, here are some helpful tips for taking the plunge and starting that conversation with your kids:

    • Be an askable parent. Encourage open communication. Tell them it is okay to talk with you. If you don’t know the answer, find the answer together.
    • Don't overreact. The number one complaint from teens is that parents jump to conclusions when they do ask questions. The goal is to keep the dialogue going.
    • Take advantage of teachable moments. The latest sexting research, the pregnancy of a friend and television sitcoms are teachable moments.
    • Listen. Sometimes the best thing you can do is listen as your child shares. It is a great way to learn what they are thinking. Hint: If you want to know what is really going on, do carpool duty and keep your mouth shut.
    • Less is more. State the facts, be honest and keep it simple and age appropriate.
    • Share your expectations and values, too. Whether it is sex, drugs, alcohol or something else, tell your children what you expect. Be clear about your family values.

    The best way to protect young people is to educate them. Are you an askable parent?


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    College Prep: It's Not What You Think

    Over the last several years, attorney Courtney Bullard has advised on or participated in more than 150 sexual assault investigations on college campuses across the country.

    “I specialize in working with colleges in matters involving sexual misconduct,” says Bullard. “I conduct external investigations, oversee investigations and provide legal advice on how to ensure colleges are complying with laws that dictate how they respond to allegations of sexual misconduct. What keeps me awake at night is the fact that we are not educating our kids about these issues before they set foot on a college campus. The hook-up culture is rampant. Teens don’t know the definition of consent. Nor do they understand the realities of what they might face in college if they find themselves accusing someone of rape, or being accused of rape.”

    The media has certainly brought to light some of these cases, including the Vanderbilt University case where a guy on the top bunk witnessed the rape but pretended to be asleep because he was afraid. He was found guilty, along with those who participated in the actual sexual assault.

    “What people see on television is a very narrow picture of what is going on on college campuses across the country,” Bullard says. “What I typically see are two students getting wasted and having sex. One believes they were raped; one believes everything was completely consensual. Neither fully remembers the entire encounter. Both of them are forever impacted.”

    Before you stop reading because you think this would never happen to your child or to your grandchild, Bullard strongly urges you to think again. Most of the cases Bullard sees involve freshmen. And, it doesn’t matter if they: are going to a small faith-based institution, planning to live at home, are strong-willed and would probably never put themselves in that situation or understand consent. It could happen to your family member, even if you think these things only happen to other people. 

    “I have sat across from so many parents sitting next to their child in tears saying all of these things,” Bullard says. “I have sat across from young women who can no longer finish school because they are unable to recover from what happened. I have sat across from young men whose dream of going to medical school, law school, graduate school, etc. is over because they have been found responsible for sexual misconduct and their transcript is forever marked. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard ‘I did [fill in the blank - smacked her butt for example] because on TV that's what girls like.’ These are not criminal cases/investigations, they are investigations and findings conducted by college campuses.”

    Bullard believes parents and teens can do a better job of preparing for college life by educating themselves on these issues. Students should familiarize themselves with their college’s sexual misconduct policy and definition of consent. Parents need to talk with their teens about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.

    “For all the parents out there saying, ‘I lived large at college and I turned out okay,’ I would strongly encourage them to recognize that this is a different time with many variables that were not in play back in the day, including social media.”

    Bullard also believes teens could benefit from taking bystander intervention training so they know what to do if they see someone in a potentially dangerous situation.

    “This is one of the most powerful tools we have to make a difference when it comes to dealing with sexual assault,” Bullard asserts. “Make sure your teen has a strategy ahead of time for dealing with potential risks. Teach them how to be good citizens and do not downplay the seriousness of this issue.”

    Although Bullard is not a counselor, she is absolutely passionate about making sure teens have the necessary information to help them make wise decisions when they get out on their own. You can email Bullard at [email protected] to learn more about getting this information into your teen's hands.

    “So much of the pain I deal with on these campuses is preventable,” Bullard shares. “We really owe it our kids to give them the information they need in order to have a successful college experience and future.”

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    14 and Pregnant

    Latisha Simmons was 14 and pregnant. She actually kept her pregnancy a secret until the morning she went into labor when she told her mother her stomach hurt and she needed to go to the hospital.

    “I was 15 when my daughter was born,” says Simmons. "My world was turned upside down. I was going to be a freshman at Howard High School. It was difficult going to school pregnant. Nobody knew what was going on. At that time it was not cool to be 14 and pregnant.”

    Simmons knows the odds were stacked against her. People talked about girls getting pregnant, dropping out of high school and living in poverty.

    “Teen pregnancy went back generations in my family,” Simmons says. “I was determined that I would graduate from high school and find a way to raise my child. I woke up every morning and got myself and my daughter ready. There were many days I went to school having had very little sleep.”

    Simmons says she doesn’t know anything that has been harder in her life than being pregnant as a teen and raising a child.

    “I was a child having a child,” Simmons asserts. “I was clueless about what it meant to be a mother. My world was turned upside down when my daughter arrived. My mom was very supportive of me, but she told me it was my responsibility to raise my child. She would not babysit so that I could go to a party or basketball game.”

    Simmons started working at 16 and hasn’t quit. She graduated from high school and worked at Wheland Foundry.

    “My main goal was to take care of my daughter,” Simmons says. “The foundry work was backbreaking. I knew I needed to find something different. Eventually I started going to college part-time.”

    Today, Simmons has a Master’s degree in social work and her daughter is a college graduate. 

    “My goal was for my daughter not to walk the same road as me,” Simmons says. “She would probably tell you I talked with her too much about sex. Today I can tell you, she broke the cycle.”

    Simmons is thankful that her mom made her take responsibility for her child. The sleepless nights and endless work to raise a child taught her that she did not want to parent another child alone.

    While the nation's teen pregnancy and birth rates are at historic lows, progress has been uneven. According the the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, it is still the case that nearly 1 in 4 girls in the U.S. get pregnant by age 20. Interestingly, four in 10 teens (39%) say they have never thought about what their life would be like if they were to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy.

    While Hamilton County has experienced a significant decrease in teen pregnancies since 1997, there were still 94 teen pregnancies (age 10-17) in 2013. Believe it or not, parents play a huge role in preventing teen pregnancy. The best way to prevent teen pregnancy is for parents to talk with and educate their children. Share your values and expectations when it comes to relationships, dating and sex. Your teens are listening. 

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    What You Can Do to End Human Trafficking

    An alert American Airlines ticket agent has been hailed a hero after preventing two teen girls from becoming part of a human trafficking scam. The girls showed up with one-way first-class tickets to New York City from California. They had no identification on them and the agent discovered the tickets were purchased with a fraudulent credit card. The suspicious ticket agent denied the girls’ tickets. While the teens walked over to a Starbucks table and made a call, the ticket agent alerted authorities.

    Authorities learned that a guy had invited the girls to New York City for the weekend so they could earn $2,000 performing in music videos and modeling. The teens had no idea their tickets were one-way.

    Who wouldn’t be excited about earning $2,000 in a weekend? Human traffickers often portray themselves as agents to connect young people to their dream career or to easy money. But that’s not the only way people end up being trafficked. Stories abound of people being preyed upon in stores, at truck stops and online.

    Research indicates that while human traffickers look for the most vulnerable at-risk youth, even young people who have loving, caring parents can fall victim to traffickers. According to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s website:

    • In the United States, on average, every two minutes, a child is bought or sold for sex.

    • The average age of a child sold for sex is 13 years old.

    • Human trafficking is the second-fastest growing criminal industry, just behind drug trafficking.

    “According to the Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, 41 percent of those who are trafficked are trafficked by family members,” says Emily Aikins, director of survivor services at Second Life, an anti-human trafficking nonprofit in Tennessee. “Many people have this stereotype in their mind of the kind of person that is trafficked when in reality, victims of human trafficking come from literally all walks of life.”

    Todd Womack, Senator Bob Corker’s chief-of-staff, happened to hear a human trafficking-focused sermon delivered by International Justice Mission’s Gary Haugen at Passion City Church in Atlanta a few years ago. At the end of Haugen’s talk, he made a plea to attendees, saying the only way to end human trafficking is if everybody looks around and decides what they can do to shed light on this tragedy in their own sphere of influence. 

    Womack and Corker took that call to heart and began working with the END IT Movement and other nonprofit organizations to envision, develop and pass into law the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, which is now operating as the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. 

    You may be wondering how you can help prevent young people from becoming human trafficking victims. Here are some ways anyone can help:

    • Get educated. Educate yourself and family members, especially your teens, and friends about the signs of human trafficking. The more educated you are, the more prepared you will be to stop it.

    • Be alert. Whether you are in a restaurant, airport, walking on the street, at a sporting event or getting a pedicure, you can help prevent children from becoming victims - just like the American Airlines agent. If something looks suspicious, alert authorities by calling 911 or the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center line at 1-888-373-7888. Tennessee’s own trafficking hotline is 855-558-6484.

    • Teach your children good internet safety skills. Know who is in your kids’ social network. Many predators connect with teens on social media and begin grooming them - then they do exactly as the person did with the two girls headed to New York City. They offer them something too good to be true, but even though they may know their parents wouldn’t approve, they aren’t quite discerning enough to realize they could be getting themselves into a dangerous situation.

    • Talk with your teens about healthy sexuality. Help them to know that sex is not a commodity to be bought and sold.

    No matter the size of your platform, everyone can do something. 

    Turner Matthews, who interned in Senator Corker’s office, learned of the END IT Movement two years ago. Upon returning to his school, he painted a huge rock on campus known as the “The Rock with a red X.” This year he not only painted “The Rock with a red X,” he also created an event around it to bring attention to human trafficking issues. He, like so many others, is using his personal sphere of influence to bring light to the problem.

    What will you do?

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    The Hookup Culture

    Prior to her current position as non-resident research associate at the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame, Donna Freitas was a professor. While teaching a dating and spirituality class, she became intrigued with the hookup culture on college campuses.

    Her students often talked about how great hooking up was and that everybody was doing it. Following spring break, students discussed what happened over the break. One woman who hooked up all the time said, “I hook up a lot. Not sure why I do it. I don’t like it.” One by one, other students said they felt the same way.

    This sent Freitas on a quest to discover if her students were different from students on other college campuses.

    For nine years, Freitas has traveled to college campuses to talk with students about sex and hooking up. Freitas interviewed students at private secular, public and Catholic colleges and universities. Her findings shed light on what drives the hookup culture.

    Forty-five percent of student interviewees said young adults believe they are expected to be casual about sex in college. Thirty-six percent thought their peers were too casual about sex. When asked about the definition of a hookup, students preferred a very broad definition because of the pressure to hook up. They defined it as anything from kissing to sex.

    Freitas also discovered an official social contract surrounding hooking up.

    • Hookups must be brief, which could mean five minutes in the corner kissing or a quickie in the restroom.

    • Those involved are to feel zero emotion to avoid attachment. They think communicating is bad, because it could lead to feeling, which is completely against the rules.

    • Hooking up often involves alcohol. Many students said that without alcohol, nobody would ever get together.

    When asked about their attitudes concerning hookups, 41 percent said they were profoundly unhappy. Another 23 percent expressed ambivalence about their feelings toward the experience, and 36 percent said they were more or less fine with it.

    Many students said that hookups were efficient because they were really busy, over-scheduled and always on the go. They really didn’t have time for relationships in college so hookups were an efficient way to get sex. Yet when Freitas asked students about dating, both men and women said that nobody dates on campus, but that they wished they would. In reality, many respondents said if someone would ask them out on a date they would go. There was much interest in dating, but the students felt like they couldn't date. Additionally, Freitas said there was so much yearning for romance and a connection of knowing and being known.

    So what is the response to the hookup culture? Freitas makes these three recommendations:

    • Teach young adults to slow down. Many students go and do without thinking which perpetuates the hookup culture.

    • Press the pause button. Encourage them to take a break, if only for the weekend, from the party culture.

    • Start talking about love, romance, dating, intimacy and relationship skills. Most young people lack relationship skills, unwittingly advancing the hookup culture.

    For tips on parenting, get our E-book "How to be a Guide for your Teen." Download Here

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    Talking to Your Kids About Sex

    Where did I come from? What are the birds and the bees? What is sex? Sooner or later, your child will begin to ask questions about sex.

    The mere thought of that makes some parents blush and get sick to their stomach. It sends others over the edge. Isn’t it interesting that we don’t hesitate to talk to our children about crossing the street safely or the dangers of playing with fire, but the thought of talking to them about sex – something equally as dangerous – send shivers up the spine? Why?

    Many parents have concerns about talking with their children about sex.

    Perhaps you fear the discussion will promote sex instead of discourage it. Or that your child might ask you about your past. Maybe you're concerned about the potential for questions you can’t answer. Some parents say that it is just too embarrassing.

    These are legitimate concerns. However, there is no evidence to suggest that talking about sex encourages the act.

    Consider the facts:

    • 41.2 percent of high school students (grades 9-12) have had sex. Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015

    • 11.5 percent said they had had four or more sexual partners. Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015

    • 30.1 percent said they had had sexual intercourse in the past three months. Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015

    • 3.9 percent of U.S. teens said they had had sexual intercourse for the first time before age 13. Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2015

    • 15 to 24-year-olds account for nearly half of the 20 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year. Centers for Disease Control 2015 STD Surveillance Report

    The Information Highway 

    If children aren’t learning about sex from you, where do they look for the answers? When Barna Research group asked, “Who should be responsible for teaching young people about sex?” respondents overwhelmingly said that parents should be the ones to teach their children about sex. But numerous surveys of teens and young adults say that television and the Internet are their top sources for information and ideas about sex, usually followed by schools, parents and peers.

    Today’s children are hearing about sex much earlier and are exposed to sexuality at virtually every turn in our society. Research has shown that by the time a child turns 18 he/she has witnessed 250,000 sexual acts on television. Interestingly, more than 75 percent of the videos on MTV show some sort of sexual act in which the woman is a sexual object. In 2009, approximately 92% of the 174 songs that made it into the Top 10 contained reproductive messages. (None of these figures include images on the Internet and social media.)

    YES! Parents Really Can Make a Difference!

    Studies show that you can most dramatically impact your child’s behavior by clearly defining your expectations within the context of close family connectedness. According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family (and many other studies), perceived parental disapproval of teen sexual activity and contraceptive use significantly influences the delay of risky sexual behavior in teenagers.

    Simply put, parents should be the first and best educators of their children in all matters. This is especially true about human sexuality, growth and development, and healthy attitudes and values about relationships. Although young people tend to act embarrassed, research has shown that teens do want accurate information and they prefer getting the information from you.

    The best time to start talking with children about sex is when they are young. Look for teachable moments, such as when you see a pregnant woman or a peer's new brother or sister, as a natural discussion-starter.

    The Talk

    Focus your conversation with elementary-age children on:

    • the correct names of sexual organs and body parts,

    • explaining sex and reproduction,

    • personal boundaries,

    • pregnancy, and

    • building healthy relationships.

    If they are old enough to ask questions, they are old enough to receive correct answers. Make sure to clarify your child’s question. When you understand the question, answer it briefly and simply. If they want to know more, they'll ask additional questions. You might want to practice talking privately with your spouse or another adult.

    Middle school students need to talk about:

    • sexually transmitted diseases and infections,

    • emotions,

    • the consequences of sexual relationships, and

    • the benefits of abstinence.

    As embarrassing as it may be, it is crucial that you talk with your teen about all aspects of sex, including oral sex. It's also a good time to discuss why people date and what healthy dating relationships look like.

    Discussions with high school students should continue to be about:

    • sexually transmitted diseases,

    • healthy dating relationships,

    • wise decision-making when it comes to sex,

    • setting a standard and living by it, and

    • self-discipline, in addition to everything listed above.

    For tips on parenting get our E-book "How to be a Guide for your Teen" Download Here

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    Fewer Teens are Having Sex

    There are some very positive trends going on among teens. That's according to the CDC 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which examines youth and their engagement in risky behaviors,

    The survey sampled public and private schools with students in at least one of the grades ninth through 12th in the 50 states (4,138 in Tennessee) and the District of Columbia.

    The results indicate:

    • Fewer teens are drinking.
    • Teen smoking is at its lowest level since 1991.
    • Less teens are involved in physical fighting.
    • The percentage of teens that have never had sex has dramatically increased.

    Since 1991, the percentage of currently sexually active high school students has decreased from 38 percent to 30 percent in 2015. Even more interesting is the drop in the number of teens who have ever had sex, falling from 54 percent in 1991 to 41 percent in 2015. That means nearly six in 10 teens are choosing to wait for sex – the highest percentage to date. This news follows a press release from the CDC in April stating that teen birth rates are now at an all-time low.

    More teens in every high school grade are waiting for sex in greater numbers than ever before.

    While this is great news concerning current high school students, a whole new target audience is approaching the high school years. It is imperative that they learn healthy relationship skills and understand the significance of the success sequence: Finish high school at a minimum, get a job and have children after getting married. Research indicates that the success sequence dramatically reduces the chance that youth will live in poverty as adults.

    What can you do to help your teen?

    • Model a healthy relationship.
    • Start an ongoing conversation, preferably before they enter middle school. Your tween may be naïve, but the people around him/her are not. You are the best one to educate and influence them when it comes to relationships.
    • Don’t assume your teen will just figure it out when it comes to dating. The world is a complicated place with confusing messages.
    • Talk about how to identify healthy and unhealthy behaviors. For example, healthy relationships don’t involve physical or emotional abuse. Healthy relationships empower people versus exerting control over them. Healthy relationships encourage individuals to grow and be themselves. When you see examples of healthy relationships, point them out.
    • Monitor involvement on social media. Some people in cyberspace are counting on your tween/teen to think they are invincible.
    • Have an open door policy when it comes to answering questions about relationships. If you don’t know the answer, investigate it together. Make sure your child knows there are no dumb questions.
    • Educate your child about how to protect themselves from sexual assault. This includes the danger of excessive drinking, why going to places in groups is a good thing, and why they should not accept a drink from anyone, even a friend.

    The trend indicated by the CDC report is great news. It means fewer teens are spending time worrying about pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. It also means they can actually focus on their future while enjoying their teen years.

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    When to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

    There is a commercial on television showing a father and his very inquisitive daughter sharing a meal together. Rapid fire, she asks why the sky is blue, why zebras have stripes, if turtles like cheese, why she has fingerprints, etc. For each question, the dad gets a little help from an insurance agent who is seated right behind him. However, when the girl asks her dad where babies come from, the agent asks for his check and quickly disappears.

    Where do babies come from?

    That question can make adults squirm and respond with some creative answers. One answer even involves eating a watermelon seed that grows in mom’s belly. When one mom returned the question, her daughter replied, “When two people love each other, the dad buys a pumpkin seed and gives it to the mom. Then her stomach gets big like a pumpkin!”

    It's great that children are actually asking their parents for this information. While the topic might cause tremendous angst for some, there is no better person to answer than their parent. Instead of sidestepping the question or giving a crazy answer, use the opportunity to provide enough age-appropriate answers and muster enough boldness to encourage more questions in the future.

    Many parents say they want to be the one to teach their children about sex. Yet teen and young adult surveys show that's not the case. TV and the internet are their top sources for information and ideas about sex. School, parents and peers are next on the list.

    It's great to start talking with your children about sex when they are young, even though some parents want to wait until their child brings it up. If you cringe and have a deer-in-the headlights look at the thought of discussing sex, your child may believe the topic is off limits.

    Experts say parents should begin having age-appropriate conversations with their children around age 6. At this stage, children are often curious about their bodies and why their body is different from their sibling’s. They may even be hearing things from other schoolchildren. It is important that children have accurate information from the person they should be able to trust: their parent. So take a deep breath and wade in the water.

    Young children often ask where they came from. For starters, a parent can ask their child where they think they came from. The child might actually be asking where they were born. With a serious sigh of relief, that is easily answered. Another option for 5- and 6-year-olds is to read a book. Baby on the Way or Where Did I Come From? are good examples.

    For elementary-age children, focus conversations on correctly naming sexual organs and private parts, personal boundaries, pregnancy and building healthy relationships. If they are old enough to ask questions, they are old enough to receive correct answers. Clarify the question and keep your answers age-appropriate, brief and simple. If they want to know more, they'll usually ask. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers. You can always say, ”Let me get back to you about that,” then make sure that you do.

    The thought of talking with your child about sex may cause your heart to race and your stomach to flutter. But remember, they are only asking because they are curious. Parents are their first and best teachers.