Don’t “Have The Talk;” Start the Conversation

A couple weeks ago now, a woman came to me…terrified.  Her daughter is ten, and at the last doctor’s visit, the doctor advised her that the time was drawing near.

It was time for this woman to tackle “the talk.”  And she was freaking out.

She had a few thoughts rush through her mind:

“No!  She’s only ten!”

“But she’ll find out about it in school.”

“My mom never said anything to me and I figured it out.”

“How much do I tell her?”

I’m sure they are all typical reactions.  She just wants to be a good mom.  She wants to open the door for communication without completely scarring her daughter.  She wants to be the kind of mom who her daughter can come to.  It’s a novel goal, but it isn’t attained without some effort.

Here’s the deal:  You need to get to her first.

Whatever gets to her first will be the boss.  If she hears about sex from her friends; she will learn about sex from her friends.  If she hears about sex from Hollywood; she will learn about sex from Hollywood.  If she discovers sex through porn; she will learn about sex through porn.  It’s the pattern; it’s how this works.  Whoever gets the headstart is the one who stays ahead.

But there’s more to this.  See, it isn’t just a one time thing.  That’s where we mess up.  Parents look for that one perfect age.  The perfect age that they can tackle, puberty, purity, abstinence, STDs, childbirth, marriage, oral sex, masturbation, sexting, virginity, wet dreams, orgasms, and porn all at once.

There isn’t a perfect age for all of that, so stop looking for it.  You didn’t go from bottlefeeding your kids to feeding them T-bone steaks.  You can’t expect to go from naive childhood one day to full-grown adolescent understanding the next.

The process happens in stages and your ‘talk’ should happen in stages as well.

My friends at Covenant Eyes just posted a resource for having the sex talk with different age groups. A man and his son talk about the first time he explained what sex was to his boy (in 4th grade at the time).  It’s light-hearted; it’s real, and it’s just… exactly what we need.

Here are a few other tips for parents:

Remember, the average age of first exposure to pornography is 11.

If in public school, your child will start hearing about sex, possibly through a school sex education curriculum around the 5th grade.

(Do you know what your school teaches?  Do you know who is teaching it?  Planned Parenthood may orchestrate these curriculums in some cases- and you do not want them teaching your kids how to view sex.  Some schools take volunteers.  Guess what you can do!)

Puberty can start as early as age 8 in girls and 9 in boys.

Use the proper names for sex organs from the beginning.  The parts in question are not dirty, gross, disgusting, or bad.  God created our bodies from head to toe, even the parts we cover with clothes.  You don’t have to explain all of their uses, but  shying away from talking about them makes them seem bad.

There is no stork, fairy dust, or “special kiss.”  Being criptic when they are younger could lead to problems like this:

Don’t forget to check out Epic Parent TV and their series on having “the talk.” 



New Mandate on Sex Education in NYC, 2011
Planned Parenthood- Implementing Sex Ed
When Does Puberty Start?
Puberty and Girls



  1. “I’m in charge of gas.” :^D How did I miss that episode of the Cosby Show? 🙂

    Like you shared, kids are also likely to do their own research into sex, so this is a great reminder (or wake-up call) for parents to steer them in the right direction and think through (biblically and objectively) everything they learn/hear.

  2. Just wanted to say thank you for spreading the EpicParent message today!!

  3. As a mom of 3 11 year olds and a 9 year old, I am SO THERE. There is a wonderful set of four Christian books called “God’s Design for Sex”. The first one is for ages 3-5, the 2nd is for 5-8, the 3rd is 8-11 and the 4th is 11+. YOU decide when your child is ready, because some kids are more mature and some are less. It’s a great place to start, although it doesn’t cover pornography that I’m aware of. We’ve talked about that, as well, and the need to be careful on the internet and why we have a filtering system.

    Timely Post!

  4. Purely You! Growing God’s Way is another good Christian Catholic resource for parents around 5th grade; reviewers say that there are really only 2 paragraphs that are uniquely Catholic. It comes with a parent guide and conversation guide.

  5. I went to public school for the last three years of high school, and really liked their sex ed program. They taught us about STDs and barriers, and then had a 3 day workshop in which a woman who worked at a domestic violence center came to talk to us about boundaries and relationships, and everything was gender-neutral, which I liked. She talked about trust and date rape and responsibility.

    I went to a Catholic high school for a year, and what I remember from their speech was really damaging to my views of sexuality and chastity, ironically, probably because the speaker (Jason Evert) was misogynist and acted like he valued women but didn’t really.

    I think Planned Parenthood isn’t inherently bad, but should be supplemented with additional teachings at home. For example, they say, “Don’t have sex if you’re not ready. No one should pressure you into having sex.” But they should go one step further and talk about lust and chastity, which PP doesn’t do.

    1. Thank you (again) for commenting. Having worked with some of Jason’s acquaintances, I am definitely intrigued by your perspective on him.

      Planned Parenthood discourages abstinence through ridicule, which makes them inherently not helpful. They are a business and abstinence isn’t good for business- it would rob them of nearly all of their income.

      However, I do agree with you. As Christians, we cannot expect everyone to be abstinent. Of course, I believe that is the best way and I know it is possible. That being said, I feel there needs to be a middle-of-the-road, that encourages abstinence either morally or logically (it is after all, the safest sex) while facing the reality that people are likely not going to be and preparing them for that. We need an approach that encourages women to respect their bodies and discourages men from objectifying women. Given our porn culture though, I don’t know how possible that would be.