A professional therapist suggests some practical tips.
Once kids have reached their adolescence, their parents brace themselves for “that” conversation. They may feel uneasy about the topic of sexuality and end up sounding both preachy and superficial. But many teens want to run away when their parents approach them saying, “We have to talk,” says French sex therapist, Thérèse Hargot.
So, what is the right way to broach the subject? “By introducing it fairly early on,” says Hargot. “Sexuality begins to develop at a very early age … It is based on the way the parents see their child.”
The conversation must vary from junior high to high school
A child’s vision of sexuality is shaped by their environment. It depends on whether the parents love each other, and whether their own sexuality corresponds to the message they are trying to drive home.“The way parents live and love one another is worth more than a thousand words,” says Hargot. “A happy parent doesn’t think about how and when they must talk about sexuality.”
But this non-verbal education is not a substitute for a more straightforward discussion on the topic. Here as well, parents must demonstrate their patience and educational knowhow. These days, to move away from general discourse that trivializes sexual experience, glorifies sexuality and worships the body, one must advance very slowly.
“Each thing in its time,” insists Hargot. Once they get to junior high, children discover their changing bodies and need to get used to them. While they wonder about their own identity, the talk of emotional maturity seems fairly abstract to them.But when they get to high school, these seeds may fall into fertile soil, because they’ve grown both emotionally and spiritually. “You must attain a certain level of emotional maturity to consider the joy of chastity before marriage,” says Hargo.
Avoiding the pitfalls
Finally, parents must avoid the certain pitfalls. The first one consists of discussing sexuality in prohibitive terms. The second is only focusing on physical beauty or on the importance of babies being born. In the first case, the adult overlooks that the child must discover his or her own body and discover in time what it feels like to be in love. In the second, the adult neglects to mention that a baby is not the only fruit of marriage, but a great gift meant to be received from God.
Olivia de Fournas