If you’re waiting for the right time to talk to your kids about the birds and the bees, it’s probably too late. Researchers from Children’s Hospital in Boston followed a group of 13 to 17 year old virgins for a full year, asking them every few months about their sexual activity and what they’re hearing from their parents. At the end of that year, 40 percent of boys and about half the girls had all lost their virginity, before their parents had ever brought it up.
Let’s face facts. According to Newsweek Magazine, two-thirds of high-school seniors have had sex, and one out of every three ninth graders has. So waiting to tell your kids about the about the facts of life just means they’re getting the information from the Internet or from friends, and you’re missing an opportunity to teach them your values and morals. Studies show when parents and kids talk openly about sexual issues, kids stay celibate longer, have fewer partners overall and are more likely to use birth control.
So, the big question is: how early is too early to start educating your kids? Dr. Mark Shuster is the chief of pediatrics at Children’s Hospital. He says “the talk” should be an ongoing conversation, and it should start the day they ask “where do babies come from.” He says there’s no need to go into a lot detail at that point. Stick to bare bones facts, but keep talking, and answer their questions when they ask. A couple more tips: It’s normal to be embarrassed. Just tell your kids that this is a difficult conversation for you but you’re doing your best. If you think you’ve made a mistake, that’s ok. Just come back a day or a week later and try explaining it again. Be straight forward. Researchers have found that parents can be so vague when talking about sex that kids didn’t even know they were getting “The Talk” until years later.