One thing that can bring instant panic to both parent and teen, is thinking about ‘the talk’. Just thinking about telling your teenager (or hearing your parent awkwardly stumble through telling you) about sex, body parts and functions is scary; heck, even the words — penis, vagina, ejaculation, orgasm -- can send terror through both parties. Of the three autonomic nervous reaction options — fight, flight or freeze -- usually freeze or flight are activated when this benchmark discussion comes around. Even just thinking about having "the talk" can cause awkward, uncomfortable feelings and the urge to flee, even if that just means distracting oneself from further thinking of this milestone discussion.
But what if it didn’t have to be this way? What if it didn’t have to cause SO much panic, fear, discomfort, trepidation and just plain weirdness? Most people can’t imagine; yet I believe sex and parenting can be a much more ‘normal’, comfortable and open topic, rather than an uber anxiety-inducing once-in-a-lifetime, ‘there-I-did-it’, thirty-second vomit of information.
What if ‘the talk’ were a conversation? What if sexuality were an open topic and thereby something comfortable to think about, talk about and express as soon as the baby comes home from the hospital, and throughout the home, throughout the child’s life?
We talk about other components of being — spirituality, emotions, intellectual things (i.e. school, and more), social, recreational/athletics — on a more everyday basis, and usually without a gross amount of discomfort. I believe sexuality does not have to get benchmarked and thrown in a closet of fear until puberty.
My thought is that sex and sexuality are a part of being human. They are a natural part of our development. Young children are naturally interested in body parts and the differences between genders. It does not have to be taboo. The talk can be an open dialogue, natural flowing out of human curiosity and development.
Studies have shown that addicts often come from closed, rigid families. Healthy, mature, open and secure people usually come out of families in which communication is not just open and allowed. Instead, dialogues encourage exploration, curiosity and discussion, rather than modeling anxiety and being closed to certain things. By simply keeping an open dialogue and allowing natural curiosity, parents can help their kids feel more secure, and ultimately have less destructive curiosity later in life. In doing so, parents can know they’ve done their best equipping and preparing their child for healthy, mature, open communication and awareness rather than secrets and isolation.