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The Sex Talk? [Ask Dr. Miro: What You Didn’t Learn In Health Class]

Dear Dr. Miro,

I’m a single parent raising a boy. He’s 12 yrs old and I tried having the sex talk with him but he refused to talk to me. Is there a certain approach I should take with him? I’m scared of what he may be picking up from his friends but I’m not exactly feeling good about what to say.

Overwhelmed Awkward Mom

Dear OAM,

Congratulations on even attempting something that obviously is uncomfortable to you. It can be highly disconcerting for a blossoming young man to have his mom try to talk about anything even remotely sexual. The best you can do is let him know that the door is always open, so to speak. Tell him you are there for him if he has any questions but do not try to force “the talk” on him. That is bound to end in repelling your sweet boy. Twelve is such a confusing disorienting time in anyone’s life. His peers are definitely talking about this stuff already so it may be a good idea to ask him about what his friends are saying.

To back track, hopefully, you have set up an environment with as little sex-negativity as is possible. Kids pick up on any discomfort their parents have about and sex can be a big trigger! Having open dialogues with your son about everything that is going on his life, not just sex, will pave the way for easier interactions, in general. Being able to speak about his daily issues, freely, will make any serious discussions a bit smoother. I find that a lot of parents will not have a regular practice of checking in with their offspring and then out of nowhere, believe they must have this frank discourse on sexuality. The stage needs to first be set to encourage open discourse before embarking on a topic viewed by society to be so laden with un-ease.

If you find yourself being asked questions, answer what is being asked, honestly and directly. Empower your child with factual information so he is able to make decisions for himself. Use language he understands – scientific terminology may not be appropriate but neither is baby talk. Approach him as a sexual being. Keep in mind, at twelve, many are already sexually active. I also recommend setting up an appointment for him to go to a sex-positive doctor (your GP will work) for a physical, sexual health appointment. These should be done annually and are pretty basic. Allow him to spend time with the doctor, by himself, to ask any questions he may feel awkward about asking you. If your Tween thinks it is a strange idea, simply explain it is like a dentist appointment or an oil change – necessary parts of living this life! You do not need to tell him his body is a temple to be cherished and held sacred but it does need to be taken care of and respected. Having a book like Changing Bodies, Changing Lives just sticking out a little on the bookshelf can be a great help so he can do his own research.

Relate to him the concept that sex can be something wonderful and passionate to be experienced when, and if, he is ready. You also do not need to be all, “YAY – Go have sex – I’m a cool parent and it’s no big deal!” But scare tactics are sure not going to work. His knowing that you are a loving, caring parent who respects him as a sexual creature, capable of making educated, wise decisions will enable your son to be the best possible version of himself, in more ways than you can imagine. Good luck!

Lust & Happiness,
Dr. Miro

featured image credit: akatrya

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