Let’s talk about sex
Should a 12-year-old know about sex? Parent24's teen expert has a positive view on this tricky question.
Dear Parent24
How old must your son be to talk about sex? My son is a "small" 12-year-old.
- Glenda

Parent24’s Teen Expert, Megan de Beyer has the following advice:

He is at the age where sex should be discussed openly, lightly and with a positive message. The basic principle of talking to pre-teen boys about sex is that the content of the conversations is not as important as the values and attitudes towards sex that you communicate.

Be honest with yourself about your feelings and attitudes towards sex. Do you think it’s a natural part of human existence, pleasure and intimacy? Or do you think it’s something to be hidden? If you have a negative attitude than I suggest you ask someone else to have the conversation with your son.

We want our boys to feel good about being male and about being sexual.  By 13 or 14 most boys have strong sexual feelings and a fascination with the images of women that are presented all around them.  The testosterone now surging in their bodies makes their pelvic area tingle and stir.

Boys at this stage masturbate at least once a day. The sexual energy they carry is enormous. Yet nothing is being done to honour this new part of their life. It’s often not even discussed. As a result, boys are full of doubts. We need to find ways to acknowledge and celebrate our boys sexual awakening.
  • Sexual learning includes two parts: the physical details of lovemaking and the much bigger questions of attitudes and values.  The practical aspects of sex should be covered in conversations and explanations with your children from toddlerhood onwards.  The really potent information about sex is the attitude you take to it. This has to come from parents and the adult community.  If you don’t talk about sex (and right and wrong), they will take their values from friends and TV. By the age of 13 years be clear with your boys that there is good sex (respectful, careful about pregnancy or HIV/AIDS) and bad sex (using others selfishly).
  • Parents must be careful not to drive sexuality underground by ridiculing their son about girls.  Do talk about it when it comes up in movies or TV or discussions at the table. As boys pass the age of 10, use sexual words casually and normally in conversation – masturbation, lovemaking, orgasm, as well as the darker ones, such as rape and incest. Be more open about sex as a lovely and exciting aspect of life.
  • Demand maturity – with good humour.  If you notice your son sniggering or reacting in a silly way to an incident on TV or in the conversation, don’t just let it go – ask them about it, and fill out their understanding.  But end with a joke or a laugh.  Give things a more positive spin.  The antidote to ‘creepiness’ is an infusion of warmth, humour and openness.
Topics you need to discus:
  • Puberty and physical changes
  • The mechanics of reproduction.
  • The facts about STIs.
  • Your thoughts on teen sex.
  • Pornography.
  • Homophobia and being gay.
  • Sex, love, commitment and marriage.
  • Your values and your son’s choices.
Some good times to talk to your son about sex:
  • After you have seen a movie or news broadcast that deals with sex.
  • If someone you know has become pregnant.
  • When you hear a sexual slur (“faggot”, “slut”)
  • When you are talking about your early romantic experiences.
  • When talking about your parents’ values and rules.
Parent24 Editor says:  Join in the discussion on our forums  

Have you spoken to your child about sex? What have you told them? Comment below or email your story to chatback@parent24.com

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