Conversations around sex and sexuality can start long before kids are actually ready for a detailed discussion about logistics. From a young age, kids can be taught about consent, respect, and boundaries in an age-appropriate manner to get a jump-start on this important topic. But when it does come time for a big, detailed convo to take place, it might be helpful to take a look at some sample ways to begin "the talk" with your kid to prepare yourself.
Having an ongoing and open conversation with your child from early on might help make it less awkward to approach the sex talk when the time actually comes. Just the other day, my 6-year-old asked if moms "poop out babies." Yep. That happened. The exchange included some casual chat about wombs and birth canals, which seemed to appease my son, who decided a minute later that it was time to talk about Pokemon cards instead. Continuing to have these small discussions when the opportunities arise helps me feel more secure in my ability to have an in-depth discussion about sex when he's ready for that.
While sitting down and having a serious talk may not be the route you choose, these samples can truly work in a variety of situations when you're ready to broach "the talk" with your kiddo. At what age you give which details truly depends on your child and their maturity level, but these 10 conversation starters can help you set off on the right foot.
1. "This might be awkward, but we’re going to talk about it anyway because it’s important."
In an interview with The Washington Post, sex educator and author Karen Rayne said that this type of intro can help parents start "the talk" by acknowledging that the conversation is going to be uncomfortable to set expectations ahead of time.
2. "I just read an article online that teenagers fall in love easily. What are your thoughts on that?"
Using something you read as a jumping off point for the conversation is one way to begin talking about sex with your kids, according to Yuri Ohlrichs, a sex educator at Rutgers Netherlands in an interview for The Washington Post.
3. "What do you know about how pregnancy happens?"
Asking your kid what they already know about what can happens as the end result of a sexual encounter opens the door for a conversation about what sex really is, according to Planned Parenthood.
4. "What do you think about the relationship between these two characters?" [While watching TV or a movie]
Opening a conversation about sex with a pop culture relationship example both you and your child are familiar with can set a familiar tone for the conversation. You likely already discuss your favorite shows and movies anyway, so using this point of connection to begin "the talk" can help make it a bit more comfortable.
5. "Do you want to bake some cookies together?"
This approach can work with ice cream sundaes and other desserts as well. Giving yourself a task to complete together while you talk and a treat to enjoy at the end of what might be an awkward conversation can help put both you and your child at ease.
6. "Here's a book for you to read. Let's talk about why it matters that you understand what it has to say."
Handing over a book about sex when you're starting "the talk" with your kid may seem impersonal, but according to Louanne Cole Weston, PhD on WebMD, it can be a great jumping off point. Dr. Weston recommended books such as It's Perfectly Normal and It's So Amazing by Robbie H. Harris to get the ball rolling.
7. "Do you want to go shopping today?"
My mom took me to the mall to have "the talk" with me. I remember very clearly what I was wearing and where all we went. What I don't remember is being embarrassed. She talked about bodies and hormones like we were just chit chatting friends out shopping. It was a total pro move and it worked. And if talking out in public seems daunting, try having the conversation in the car on the way to or from your outing.
8. "I want to tell you a story... "
Giving a personal anecdote related to relationships that you feel comfortable sharing with your child is one way to approach the conversation. While some stories about actual sexual encounters may be too much to share, a story with an example of boundary setting or peer pressure can open the door for an honest conversation about sex.
9. "I don't know everything, but I do know that it's my job to help you learn about sex in a healthy way, so we're going to talk about it together."
Sometimes, it's ok to admit to your kids that you don't have all of the answers. An article at Healthfinder.gov encourages parents to be honest with kids about sex and answer their questions as best you can, even if that means looking up some information together when you don't have an answer.
10. "I want you to know that you can talk to me about anything."
This reassuring phrase is a great way to start "the talk" with kids because it reminds them that you are the one person they can feel most comfortable expressing their concerns, fears, or desires to. Child psychology expert Dr. Tali Shenfield wrote in an article for Psy-Ed.com that parents should praise kids who open up to them, even if the conversation is awkward in order to help kids know their parents are a safe person to talk to about sexuality.