Being a single parent has enough challenges of its own on a day-to-day basis to make talking about sex more than it needs to be. Yet, headlines and TV shows either seem to be skirting around the issue of single parents discussing sex or outright making it the main topic. As a single mom raising a house full of boys or a single dad bringing up little princesses, the task is still at hand, only the territory is a bit unfamiliar.
It is our job to put aside doubts and embarrassment regarding the topic and to be brave enough and discuss it with our children. There is no need to terrify them with photos of STDs or pull out a banana to show them how sexual protection should be used. Be truthful, forthcoming and willing to answer your child’s questions. Hopefully you will open the door to an ongoing conversation.
Start Talking About It Early
Most parenting studies and helpful guidelines will always say that whether it is a single parent household or not, it is a good idea to start young. Children are naturally curious and are learning new things about the world every day. From the time they can talk, try to avoid pet names for private body parts. Remove the stigmatism from saying things like penis or vagina in the home.
By openly talking to your children about their private parts, you also open the door to reminding them that no one should ever touch them in these places. Explaining private parts to your children could be the best way to keep them safe.
Always Be Ready and Open
As your young child grows, you might find yourself in situations such as “Mom! I am officially a man!” or “Dad, how do I know when I am a real woman?” Your children feel comfortable enough to come to you with the celebrations and curiosities of their lives. Whether or not you can relate, you probably have more experience on the subject than they do. Don’t deflect your children on to someone else to tackle the issue. Take some deep breaths and try your best! Be sure to remind them that bodily functions and arousal are natural and nothing of which to be ashamed.
Be Respectful of the Other Parent
You and your ex may have different views on just about everything, including sex. That doesn’t mean this is the time to undermine the other parent. Be rational and honest without disclosing topics such as “your mother (or father) never liked sex anyway!” If they feel caught between the two of you, your child will likely shut down.
Don’t Be Afraid to Call in for Back-Up
After you’ve started to have real discussions with your son or daughter about the way his or her body changes, it’s also OK to phone a friend (or your ex) for help. If there is someone of the same sex as your child, with whom your child feels completely safe and comfortable, reach out to the person. Your family member, friend or partner might be able to share helpful insight that, as a parent of the opposite sex, you just aren’t privy to.
Go for It
As parents, it’s our job to prepare our children for every stage of their lives. They also need to understand how their bodies develop. Be sure to give accurate and age-appropriate information regarding development, relationships and sexuality.
Sex is about much more than menstruation and ejaculation. There are topics like caring, commitment and relationships to be covered as well. As adults, we see how much sex and relationships affect our daily lives, as well as our culture. Once you break the ice it will get much easier over time. Put on your Super Parenting Cape and know you have the power to shape your child’s life positively!