The “Talk”!

I don’t remember ever being sat down either with my father or mother to be given….”The Talk”. You know the one I mean, the one where (even though you had already heard most of the facts from Health class in school or had pieced together how things worked from dirty jokes on the playground) mom or dad gave you the facts about relationships, the opposite sex and where babies come from. At this stage of life it seems like I have always known how things work. Given the climate of today’s information world of internet, advertising, social media, pop culture, etc., it’s safe to say that our children know…..or think they know…..all there is to dating, relationships….and sex.

I think this can be a tough one for dads. Many times we tend to relegate these uncomfortable subjects to mom or we just hope they will learn the information from school. In fact in a recent survey by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 65% of adults believe federally funded programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy should give teens information about birth control and postponing sex and 68% said the “community” needs more efforts to prevent teen pregnancy. But, isn’t this just avoiding our responsibility?  The National Fatherhood Initiative has a few tips to help break the ice so to speak when it comes to having the “Talk”.

Beyond the “birds and bees” talk, a dad and mom need to, first of all take care to nurture, form an early age, the kind of relationship that will render a child trusting of the parent and then it’s the parent’s responsibility to explain little by little as the child grows in maturity and understanding, the hows and whys of a relationship. “The talk” needs to occur in small bits over a long period of time and not dumped on a child on a Saturday afternoon. Most parents today, when confronted with informing their children about sex, simply want them to be “safe”. They say things like, “you know they’re going to do it anyway, I just want them to be safe”. But aren’t we just giving up? In that same survey mentioned above, teens said that their parents were their biggest influence in decisions about sex…more than media…more than peers! Of course, we would be ignorant to think those factors didn’t have some influence, especially in a moment of weakness. Also, the survey stated that 9 out of 10 young people say it would be easier to delay sexual activity and avoid pregnancy if they were able to have a more open and honest conversation with their parents.

If you are a strong, caring, leading dad, it is much easier for your child to come to you with relationship questions, knowing he or she will get good solid, loving advice. Going way beyond “being safe”, we need to make sure our children know and understand what it is to be in a loving, long term relationship and the maturity level that is required. Both a mom and dad can do this from an early age of the child by simply showing through actions, everyday, toward each other. It goes back to lead by example. A young girl should see in her father, the kind of man she would like to find, one day, and settle down with to make a life. A young boy should see in that same father, the man he needs to be.

The whole idea of wanting more government programs to simply (and impersonally) dole out sex information and contraception, seems to me to go against a core purpose of the family. By carefully, over a song period of time, talking with your children about relationships and sex, a dad (or mom) can lovingly pass along the personal and moral values of a family….it’s the handing down of what is expected behavior.

No dad or mom actually wants, or should I say looks forward to having the “the talk”. We don’t have to….we should be having a whole bunch of talks! Ultimately a dad should talk to a son about sex and relationship and a mom should talk to her daughter and a mom should talk to her daughter about the same. However, a loving talk about the relationship side of things would have a huge impact coming from a dad to his little girl. In my opinion “The Talk” must include a discussion about marriage and why it is important to a family and society.  Again, a dad can lead by example and show his son how a man should behave and his daughter that she can and should have a high standard in a relationship. You want to prove to your daughter that she deserves a man that carries himself with dignity and intelligence and not the rude, crude, lazy man/boys we often see walking around a mall with his hat on backwards.

 

Let’s be honest, teens are going through a tough time, as you and I did. They are driven by raging hormones and boys especially are drawn to risky behavior and often lack the maturity and emotional development to handle the onslaught. So, hang in there dad, do talk about sex on several occasions and in different ways depending on your child’s level of understanding. Be there to catch them if they fall and keep reminding them that they have way more power in their hands than they know and to handle their sexuality with much care and dignity. They need to know that they are above the fray of pop culture.

 

Mike Austin is a dad to 6 children ages 9 to 21.  He is the host of “Radio Dad with Mike Austin”, a syndicated, daily radio feature all about being a good dad and celebrating dads everywhere and their influence and leadership.

Mike Austin can be reached at :  mike@radiodad.com

 

 


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