Posted: Aug 21, 2013 11:00 AM
So your little one is no longer little and she or he is now preparing to head to college. How do you approach "The Sex Talk" subject without it needing capital letters? Here are some tips that worked with me when it came to having this important discussion.

Contributed by: Olivia Lawnick, college student and blogger for

Growing up can be hard for your kids, but it is harder on you as parents. My own poor mother watched the laundry change for her three daughters from diapers, to pull-ups, to Wednesday character briefs, to boy shorts, to bikini fits, and oh my, is that an eye patch or underwear? Somewhere in those transition stages, it is necessary to have "The Talk.” Unfortunately, this discussion is no longer limited to the birds and the bees, especially if your kid is college-bound.

Tip 1: Keep calm and carry on

You are talking to your child about sex, so no part of that is going to be as comfortable as talking about the weather. However, you want to be able to keep your composure. Your child will be more receptive to what you are saying if your demeanor is calm versus stammering and sweating.

You don't want to talk to them too early and overwhelm them with information they are not ready for, but you don't want to wait too long and be too late.

My mom wanted to send me off to college with a can of pepper spray and a promise for abstinence. My dad decided that it was necessary to talk with me earlier than drop-off day. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I decided when to have the talk, and I think that's a nice and calm way to do it. Plan to be more flexible about the timing of the discussion. There is no need to go rushing into it. That is, you don't want to talk to them too early and overwhelm them with information they are not ready for, but you don't want to wait too long and be too late.

Instead, you could wait for them to ask a sex-related question and use that as a jumping off point. Also, you don't have to hit every point in the sex ed curriculum in that one conversation. Provide enough factual information to answer the question, and then you can continue discussing other aspects. By managing to keep a calm demeanor, your children will also feel more comfortable talking to you about these difficult issues. You love them and don't want them to be afraid of talking to you about anything.

Tip 2: Honesty is the best policy

Now that I am a senior in college, I can look back with appreciation for how my dad handled the situation. First of all, he was honest with me. He did not use silly euphemisms like the birds and the bees. The first time we ever talked about sex, we used anatomical terms. He wanted to convey to me that sex was a serious matter, and so the vocabulary was serious and proper. Even though the discussion was formal, the tone was not awkward. Obviously, I had been exposed to the idea of sex before, having seen it glamorized and referenced on TV and in society on multiple occasions. However, discussing it with my dad in an almost medical manner gave me a better biological understanding of the "common" action I had heard so much about. I also appreciated his honesty. It made me respect the information more and developed a deeper level of confidence between us.

Being honest and frank will make a stronger impression with your child.

This is in high contrast to my mom's approach. She believed in scare tactics and extreme worst case scenarios. These stories and talks we had made me roll my eyes and "yeah-yeah" her. Being honest and frank will make a stronger impression with your child.

Also, a lot of parents stress the importance of their children being and remaining a virgin. Well, what about after that status is lost? It was valuable to hear that sex is an action that is independent, meaning that once I had it did not mean I had to always have it. Explain that sex is not like walking. You take your first step, and soon thereafter you are walking around all the time. I know that euphemisms are a bad idea, but sometimes analogies can help explain these concepts to your children.

Tip 3: Emphasize healthy relationships too!

Do not forget to talk to your children about healthy relationships. Despite what the popular media might have you believe, not every college student is "hooking up" sexually on campus. Start early with them to develop healthy ideas about how couples should interact and the standard of their own self-respect. Tackling these subjects slowly and over time will certainly make the situation easier to preach as parents and to listen to as children. Arm your kids with real information, provide them with the knowledge and morals to make their own big decisions when the time comes.

Bottom Line^ There is no perfect scripted conversation for having "The Talk" with your children. However, there are more successful conversations than others. The ones that your children respond to best are those based upon facts and honesty and not on emotion. By making sure that the conversation is a positive experience can also positively impact your relationship with them as they mature from your kids into your adult children.

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