By: Anna, mother of 4 sons
Menstruation, birth control, pap smears, and pregnancy – these are a few of the important topics that come to mind when talking with our daughters about sexual health.
At first glance it may seem that there is less to talk to about with our sons. After all they don’t have periods, take the pill, go to OB/GYN appointments, or get pregnant. As the mother of four sons, I know it is also important that I talk to my sons about sexual health. And, there is plenty to talk about with my sons. The way we talk to our kids may differ based on their age, sex and gender, but open discussions about healthy relationships, sexual orientation, hygiene, puberty, etc. are important to have with any young person.
Talking about Condoms
When my oldest son was in fifth grade, we were visiting his grandparents. While we were all sitting around in the living room he innocently asked, “What is a condom?”
I’m not sure what triggered the question. Maybe it was something he saw on T.V., or a conversation he overheard. But, it took everyone by surprise.
Most of the adults in the room pretended like they hadn’t heard him say anything, while his grandmother asked, “What? What?” as if she couldn’t understand what was happening. I jumped in and explained in a matter-of-fact way.
“It is a special covering for the penis that is worn during sex to prevent pregnancy and protect against STDs.” To everyone’s relief, my son did not seem uncomfortable, was satisfied with the answer, and went back to playing with hit Legos on the floor.
Tweens and teens are curious about the world around them and ask a lot of questions. I knew that my ten-year old just needed information to satisfy his curiosity. I also knew he needed to feel comfortable asking his question so he would know where to turn when other questions came up in the future.
I felt the discomfort in the room and wanted to prevent my son from getting the idea that the important people in his life were uncomfortable talking about condoms or other sensitive topics. I wanted to make sure that his question would be addressed. I want him to know that I will always be a resource.
I kept my answer short, medically accurate, and surrounded it with the message that he can ask me anything. That’s what he needed.
Tips on talking to your son about sexual health:
- Be open. Be honest. Be non-judgmental
- Make it age-appropriate
- Leave the door open to future conversations.
- Identify and sort your own feelings ahead of time
- Visit https://parentsaretalking.com/communicating/#tips