Healthy Kids    

Hudson Valley parents share how they talked the talk



Talking to your kids about sex: it’s gotta be done.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry over one million teenage girls become pregnant each year and approximately three million teens contract a sexually transmitted disease. It’s an epidemic that needs to be addressed. How each family handles it will differ. So parents, put your embarrassment aside, and if you have pre-teens, get serious about a serious matter. 

Click here for advice on having "the talk." 

Kathy Blasko of Highland Mills, didn’t hold back when telling her children, even having little talks with them when they were in the lower grades. Now, as a mom to a 13-year old boy and 10-year old girl, the stakes are higher.

It was when her son needed deodorant, she knew it was time to have the official chat. “I went out and bought a book that told the whole story, with illustrations and told him to go off and read it, get the giggles out, and then we’ll talk.” She says that she also gave him the details of what happens to girls. “I wanted my son to know the whole story. There is nothing we haven’t talked about.” She still gets the rolling of the eyes when she brings something up, but overall, he listens. 

At what age do you start?

“There is no exact age when it is exactly ‘the right time’ to talk about sex,” says Dr. Marie  Bernardez, a pediatrician from Orange Pediatric Care in New Windsor. She says that a good rule of thumb is to start “as soon as the child can recognize male and female differences.”

There are many factors that would play into a child’s age of readiness such as their social group of friends, exposure to different media, family morals, their own physical development, and their general environment.

How to help your child deal with the emotional toll of early puberty.

Sara Miller from Washingtonville says, “I had a talk with my son when he was about fifteen that focused more on being responsible sexually and how promiscuity leaves you feeling empty inside — that was important to me.”

How much to say, according to Dr. Bernardez, depends on the child’s level of maturity. “You talk about different things to a four-year old, a ten-year old or a 16-year old. Some children are more curious, adventurous and inquisitive than others and may be ready for, and indeed need, the information sooner, than a child who may not be ready.”

Learn more about talking to your teen about sex.

Does talking about it encourage it?

Despite popular misconceptions, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has conducted research to show that this information does not increase kids’ level of sexual activity, but actually promotes and increases the proper use of birth control methods among sexually active teens.

 

Carol Falcone Nelson writes frequently on pediatric issues for Hudson Valley Parent magazine.