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How to Handle the “Sex Talk” With Your 9-Year-Old

“Mom, how old should I be before I have sex?”

Oh, crap. I am suddenly thrust into a very important conversation with the question-asker, my 9-year old daughter, that I WAS NOT expecting.

We’re snuggling in bed after binge-watching five episodes of Friends.

Damn that Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Chandler, Monica and Joey for going through lovers like an Avian flu patient goes through Kleenex, with no apparent negative repercussions save for some embarrassment.

I want to explain to my daughter that if Joey really had casual sex with as many women as he mentions he’d have a few paternity suits on his hands and probably one or two tire irons heading toward his cranium.

I also blame my mother. Yes, mother, you are my scapegoat yet again. We let her babysit our kids while we were all vacationing in Paris and came home to see our daughters watching Friends.

When I gave her my What-Are-You-Thinking look she cried, “It’s the only TV show in English!!”

(Never mind that I continued the trend when we returned home) Sigh. Now I must have a conversation I wasn’t prepared for. How old should she be?

talking to kids about sex

I want to be Sex Positive because I think vilifying sexuality isn’t the way to go. But, at the same time I want her to understand the gravity of the undertaking.

So I give this approximate soliloquy:

“Honey, sex is a wonderful, natural experience that two people who love each other can share. It also feels really good. But, here’s the thing, it’s a huge responsibility.

“Sex can lead to pregnancy, so you want to make sure that you and your lover are ready for a child and committed to each other. You can also get sexually transmitted diseases if you don’t use the appropriate protection.

“So I really think it’s best to wait to have sex until you’re an adult, which means some time after high school and with someone you know really loves you. Someone who makes you feel safe. Because honestly, my biggest concern? I just don’t want you to get your heart broken.”

“Mom,” says she, “Look at me.”

I roll over onto my side and look at my little girl’s face which has turned toward me. I can see her smattering of freckles in the dark, and her cheeks that still look like baby cheeks to me.

“I’m going to get my heart broken,” she says, “That’s just part of being human. But, I’ll be okay.”

Tears well in my eyes. Good Lord, this gorgeous human being kills me.

I don’t ever want her to suffer the way that I did over love. I want nothing for her but kindness, safety and commitment. But I’m humbled by her wisdom and know, in my bones, she’s already on her life’s path and that, very soon, much of it will be beyond my control.

Have you started talking to your kids about sex? And if so, any advice? xo S



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