Navigating The Talk with curious young minds


I NEVER had "The Talk” with my parents. That happy task fell to my adult sisters who delighted in the responsibility.

I also seem to recall watching "Where Did I Come From?” in the dark recesses of my mind.

I always imagined I would be able to have the talk openly and honestly with my children one day, give them the facts of life but colour it with the importance of self-identity and the tricky business of not confusing lust with love.

I also imagined I had years to finesse this speech.

I was wrong.

The talk came about recently while we wondered around the botanic gardens and I kept glancing nervously around waiting for a proper grown-up to reprimand me for talking smut.

We have always said we would have the talk when they started to ask the questions.

So my husband and I have touched on aspects of sexual education in the past. To clarify why certain words are rude, mostly. But this was a solo inquisition that I had not seen coming.

And it. Just. Kept. Going.

No sooner had I explained one thing, than they wanted further explanation on another thing.

That former mother who looked forward to taking on the tough questions with aplomb, looked around helplessly and bit back the words: "Ask your father.”

From "self-love” to "how can same-sex couples have children?”, I think we covered the lot. We talked about puberty, sexual preferences, contraception, consent. Everything I thought they should learn from a responsible adult and not from someone at school or a Virginia Andrews novel.

I looked at their faces drinking in the information, not as horrified as I might have secretly hoped.

I briefly remembered my hopes to brighten this awkward conversation with a bit of life truths.

So after all the red-faced gabbing on, I reminded them of the essentials:

1. It's normal. All these confusing feelings and thoughts? They've been happening to young men and women since the dawn of time. It's normal. You're normal.

2. Don't have to be in a hurry to do anything you're not 100% ready for. In a context that I'm sure Dr Seuss never intended, those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.

3. It is not their duty to pass this information on to their peers. A vital message missed by my sisters, as my brother will tell you. It is a parent's decision when to tell their offspring about "the birds and the bees”.

4. Lastly, there's nothing they can ask us that we will not be willing to discuss with them. I may need a strong drink first and a lie-down afterwards, but they will always have someone to talk to. But given recent events, I think they already knew that one.

Peta Jo is an author and mother of three. Visit her on Facebook.

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