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Answering Questions About Sexuality

Typical Questions: How to Respond

“But how did the baby get in there?”
“Why does Laura have two mommies?”
“What does sex feel like?”

Sooner or later every parent will be faced with answering questions about sex. In fact, you might be surprised - or even shocked - by what your children ask.

Certain sexual questions and topics can make even the most confident parent embarrassed and tongue-tied. Your first response might be to laugh or change the subject.

But talking about sex and sexuality is key to raising sexually healthy kids. It gives you an opportunity to send the right message and share your values and beliefs. And most important, it lets your children know that they can depend on you for honest, reliable answers.

So how should you respond when your child asks a question about sex?

Instead Of... Try To...
…avoiding or changing the subject
  • Listen and take advantage of teachable moments like bath time, a trip to the zoo or a visit with a new baby.
  • Give a brief answer and say, “Let’s talk more about this later” when questions arise in public places or at inappropriate times.
…saying, “Go ask your Mom/Dad.”
  • Acknowledge your feelings: if you don't know the answer say so and look it up together. Or if you’re embarrassed, admit it.
  • Praise your child for asking the question and try your best to answer it. This will tell him or her that you want to help despite your feeling uncomfortable.
…laughing, teasing or making fun of your child’s questions or ideas
  • Act in a way that encourages your child to come to you for answers. Use positive words, an inviting tone of voice and body language that conveys your willingness to talk.

    Laughing and teasing confuses children about your comfort with sexuality, and makes future discussion uncomfortable for them.
…voicing disapproval or chastising your child’s curiosity
  • Be positive. An interest in sexuality - including sensitive topics such as sexual orientation and identity - is natural and healthy.
…using derogatory language about the human body or other people
  • Do your best to be accurate and use proper names for all body parts.
…giving all the information at once
  • Give an answer that’s age-appropriate. Use simple explanations and avoid words that children may not understand. (For example, "Where do babies come from?" will be asked - and should be answered - differently at ages 5, 9, and 13).

[ Typical Situations: How to Respond ]

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