Discussing Sex With Your Son

Discussing sex with any child can be a nerve racking situation for a parent.   While many of the instructions for opening a discussion about sex are similar between boys and girls, there are definitely some important points to make when talking to one gender or the other.  Boys have their own needs and it's important, as a parent, to understand this difference and to know how to approach boys when talking about sensitive issues.

Discussing Issues That Are Boy Specific

It's important to realize, when discussing sex and sexuality with your boy that there are certain topics that are particularly relevant to him.  You'll need to discuss wet dreams, ejaculation and masturbation with your son.  It's certainly up to you how you discuss these issues and what lessons you wish to convey.  It is very important to do so at a relatively early age so that boys don't stumble into their first wet dream unprepared, or feel that they are the only male in the world who has thought of masturbation.  

Keep It Simple and Casual

Rather than seeing sexuality as something that you need to discuss with your child, or assuming you'll need to have a "sex talk," it's far healthier to see this as a dialogue.  From the age of 8 or so until 18 you'll undoubtedly want to engage in short, educational conversations with your son as he develops.  The questions that he'll have about sex and puberty at 8 will be quite different than those he'll have at 16.  There is no need to feel that you need to share everything at one time, or that you need to have an awkward face to face discussion in a locked room.  As the opportunity arises, discuss these topics with your child in a casual, warm way so that he will gain knowledge and feel comfortable coming to you with further questions.

Talk While Active

One great idea is to have your dialogue while engaging in another activity.  If you're washing the car together, going to the grocery store, or taking in a baseball game, you can engage in a short conversation.  See this as a chance to check in with your son, to see what questions he has at this particular stage, and to share your insights.  He will be far more comfortable discussing these issues while doing some activity than he will simply sitting on the couch with you.  

Don't Forget About Girls

While discussing how your son is changing, it's also important to teach him about girls and the changes that they go through.  You don't have to have a lengthy discussion about menstruation, but your son should know what it is and how it relates to pregnancy.  It's important to help your son to understand how girls change while also understanding how they, as boys, change. In addition, boys should clearly understand the issues involved in date rape and consent and be taught about respecting what girls say and understanding how and when to use their sexuality.

Use Resources

It can often be helpful to use the resources around you to discuss sex.  There are great DVDs on the market today that can explain sex to your children.  There are books you can read together or have your son read, and there are magazines that are enlightening and informative.  Make your conversations interesting with extra aids, if you feel this will help with your dialogue.

Mom Can Be Involved Too

Many parents think that fathers should discuss sexuality with their sons and that mothers need to do so with their daughters.  While there are certainly topics that are easier to do with the same sex parent, there are also some issues that might be illuminated better by the opposite gender.  A mother can help a son to understand how menstruation works, and to understand the signals that girls give to boys.  She also might be more comfortable talking about birth control and STDs.  Don't feel that you are shut out of the process, as a mother, just because the topic is sexuality and the listener is your son.

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