Thinking about “the talk”

I’m thinking about “the talk,” you know, the one parents supposedly have with their kids about sex. I’m working on writing down my thoughts (I have a post in draft form), but before I get too far, I thought I’d ask you: have you had the talk? What’d you say? What didn’t you say? Have you read good things on the subject? Would you point me in their direction?



  1. so, its my understanding, that its not just one talk but an ongoing conversation. i want my son to enjoy his body and his sexuality, whatever that looks like and to also know about misogyny in the world and to be able to identify consent. its a daunting task.
    here are a couple of things in the spirit of that

    also there’s a Moth where one of the guys from Mythbusters talks to one of his sons “the internet hates women” (

    i don’t know that i can do any of this gracefully – i tend to offer too much information, i have to remember to ask him to clarify questions – but i hope to to able to be a warm place for him to land

  2. I should also say that my son is 9. When he was four he asked a little about the mechanics of sex. I over explained. I backed off.
    I’m a labor a delivery nurse so there is lots of opportunity to talk about the mechanics of birth and it is an ever-present subject (and therefore so is sex, in its own way).
    I still walk around naked in the house (from the shower to the bedroom for instance, not ALL the time) and he sees evidence of my period every month and he knows about how that works and its connection to pregnancy.
    Frankly, the emotional stuff and self discovery is much more complicated than the mechanics of sex.

    1. I totally agree, and this has been my gripe with the bulk of the links people have provided – they’ve been heavy on the mechanics/risks, and light on the emotions/pleasure.

  3. I also have kids that I’ve talked to about various aspects of sex and sexual anatomy/reproduction. For boys, i really like this:
    For girls, well, my daughter is still pretty young so we havent gotten much past naming her parts and discussing how babies emerge. (Funny, like G I am also in the childbirth field, so I’m sure that part is easier for us)
    I’ll be interested to know how you approach it.

  4. I have 2 girls(16 & 21) well teenager, and technically an adult.
    All I can say, is I started young, I answered questions honestly and openly as possible, and I continued to talk with them all the way till the night I knew my oldest was going to loose her virginity.
    Now it’s true, most parents probably aren’t like me. I don’t think I could be more liberal about sex.
    I wanted her to know that it’s natural, can be great, and safe, and I didn’t want her to feel like she had to sneak around, have it at a party or the back of a car. That most people have sex in their home, in the bed, which she did, with her boyfriend.
    Now granted, it took my husband some getting used to the idea.
    However, by the time she’d found the guy, he was great and she’d waited till she had feelings(strong feelings) for someone.
    But because I always kept the lines of communication open, there were very little surprises. And it was special for her, which is more than I can say for myself.

    My 16 yr old, came out as bisexual at age 14. She’s quite open about it. Her first kiss, etc…was with a girl…but it was no different.

    I’ve found(with girls) that if you start young and keep talking, when appropriate , you certainly don’t want to be cramming this down their throats(not saying that’s what you would do N) that the kids tend to wait till they’re older to experience sex. That’s been my experience.
    But then again, I have girls and not all parents are going to be ok with letting their kids have sex in their house.

    For me, it felt right. and safe.

    1. In general, I agree – answering questions is the best way to providing first-rate sex ed. But I was looking to do a bit more, to establish some affirmative communication goals. And you’re right – not all parents are ok with their kids’ having sex in their house. Me? I don’t mind, I just don’t particularly want to know when it’s happening, thank you very much.

  5. I have! But it’s been ongoing since birth, pretty much. It comes up every so often then fades in the memory and it’s like it’s a whole new discussion all over again. My little one is little, still single digits, but we’ve talked about pretty much everything, even gay sex and what that is (I can’t remember how it came up, but I caught myself giving a distinctly hetero lesson on what “sex” is and I wanted to correct that). A dear, dear friend of mine came out as trans last summer, too (with my little one in tow at breakfast) and she’s made the transition fully to living as a woman since then. So, we’ve had that discussion, too.

    Masturbation is also an ongoing topic. I don’t want to contribute to feelings of shame, but also want to be very clear about boundaries and expectations. I say things like, “Everyone does it, but behind closed doors either alone or with someone the same age who wants to hang out with that going on.” With the sex stuff I also talk about consent and standing up to anyone who has more power (much older child or adult) and saying NO!

    Who knows if I’m on the right track, but I’m doing my best to take away the shame and sometimes heterosexual tunnel-vision of it all.

    1. I really enjoyed this! Thanks. (I’m not sure the idea of porn for teens is as good as they think it is, though – I think James Deen may already be making porn for teens, like it or not.)

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