By CARA HUNT
Tribune Features Writer
Talking to your kids about the birds and the bees can be embarrassing for many parents.
But while it may be something that you are tempted to avoid, it's important that you bite the bullet and sit down with your child.
This week, Tribune Woman spoke to several Bahamian moms who “have been there and done that” when it comes to "The Talk" and can provide their fellow parents with some valuable advice.
The majority of these mothers said it’s never to early lay a solid foundation for sex education.
“I think you can start as early as you want and then tailor it to your child’s age. I think its important that they know from an early age the words penis and vagina. I don’t believe in letting them only know the cute words because people need to know what they are referring to,” said Kendra Rolle, a mom of three children between the ages of and 12 and 17.
“And I taught my kids from early, like three years old, to not let anyone but Mommy or the doctor or Grammy – because my mom kept them – touch or see your private area, and if they didn't feel comfortable about what anyone has done in that area to tell me right away.”
Melia Johnson said she had no choice but to tell her son the truth about the birds and bees after she overheard her him and his friends talking in the back seat of her car on day.
“They were talking about where babies come from and one of the little boys was talking about how the mommy and the daddy eat a baby egg and then they go to the hospital when the egg in the belly is ready to hatch. I was like, you know what, I want my son to know exactly what is what and not be going around telling people about eating eggs,” she said. “I think he was about seven when we had that first talk."
On the flip side, Jessica King said some children may be more advanced than others when it comes to their knowledge about sex, which can also be a problem.
“There are children who are very forward. They know about sex and they may be exposed to things (in their environment) that would never happen in your own home," she said.
“And you have to accept that children talk, and so I feel like as a parent I want my kids' base line of information to be from me and then we can go on to discuss what other people may think or believe, but you are going to hear it from me first."
According to Dr Justin J Lehmiller in Psychology Today, too many parents wait for the “right” time to have the "The Talk", only to find that it never does – "and then they don’t have the talk at all, or it only happens after their kid has already become sexually active, which is obviously too late. By starting when they’re young, you have a chance to ease into things and make sure your child has the information they need when they need it."
He also advised not to let uncertainty and embarrassment stop you from talking to your children about such an important topic.
"Many of us never got a sex talk from our own parents, which makes the process of talking to our kids all the more difficult because we don’t have a model for how things should go. Don’t let that uncertainty hold you back," said Dr Lehmiller.
Studies have found that parents are the most important influence on a teenager's decisions about sex and relationships. According to surveys, most teens find it easier to make decisions about sex if they can talk openly with their parents about the subject.
It has also been found that teens who talk with their parents about the matter are more likely to put off having sex until they are older and are also more likely to make better choices when it comes to the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.