I was ten years old, and I was scared. My older brother had just
informed me that my dad would be giving me the “sex talk.” Apparently,
he had just gotten his talk earlier in the evening, and my dad was
“making the rounds.”
I sat and tried to digest this. Our family had never talked about
sex. It wasn’t on our radar, along with a number of other topics.
In fact, my father didn’t talk to us much about anything those days,
let alone about sex. And now he was going to talk to me one-on-one
I thought of my options, including feigning illness.
It all seemed surreal to me.
Later that night, just when I thought I was home free, I heard
his footsteps on the stairs. My body tensed. My thoughts were at
warp speed, but I felt sluggish and dull. As he approached the door
of my room, I struck a submissive pose.
He sat down across from me, and he seemed almost as tense as I
felt. I thought I might explode at any second. “I thought I’d just
talk to you about some things,” he said. He paused, and then he
said, “Did you know, for instance, that you don’t really have a
bone in your penis when it gets hard? It’s really just blood.”
What I had just heard was too much to digest. I thought I was
moving my head up and down for “yes,” but I was so uncomfortable,
I wasn’t sure. I hoped he wouldn’t ask me a question, because I
didn’t think I’d be able to talk. Had I been given the choice between
prolonging this talk for an hour, or being ripped apart by wild
dogs, I may have chosen the latter.
At least I would have been aware of my fate.
My father noticed my struggling, and he became even more uncomfortable.
After some hesitation, he said, “If you have any other questions
about anything like this, just ask me.” I nodded, and he left the
I sat there on my bed, motionless. I didn’t quite know what to
do. Who should I tell? At the very least, my brothers needed to
hear about it. Or perhaps I could just treat this episode like a
bad dream, knowing it would soon go away.
My father was a man of science. He was a renowned cardiologist,
at one of the most prestigious hospitals in the world. But when
it came to talking with his son about sex and the human body, he
could muster only two sentences.
But, then again, I did learn it wasn’t a bone.
If you’d like to do your job as a father, you’ll need to step up
and “have the talk” with your kids about sex. Better yet, you’ll
have many talks over the years. Too many parents put off talking
about sexuality until the teen years begin, and then feel as though
they need to have “the talk.” But sexuality is a big part of your
kids’ lives every day, so start the conversation early on in their
Here are some ideas to consider when talking to your kids about
- Make sure you’re calm and matter-of- fact when you relay
the information. Any discomfort you show will immediately
have your child feeling uncomfortable too. The calmer you are,
the more they’ll remember. When you’re sure of yourself when you
talk about sex, it allows them to feel more secure about it, too.
- Educate yourself about sex Adults don’t like to admit
they don’t know much about sex, but this is often the case. And
if you’re not confident with your knowledge about any topic, you’re
less likely to share that knowledge with others. Sexuality is
no different. So get yourself a good book on the topic, and educate
- Distinguish between facts and what your beliefs are There
will be times when facts might clash with what your beliefs are,
or what your faith believes. Be clear with your kids on this.
Define exactly how these differ, and tell them that different
people will believe different things about sexuality and faith.
Let them know this disagreement is fine, especially if the beliefs
are based on nonviolence, justice, and equality.
- Walk the talk with your kids Live the values you’ve talked
to your kids about. It’s confusing for kids to hear one thing,
and to see something else in your behavior. Sexuality is all around
us today, so be clear with your values, and stick to them. The
best way for your kids to be interested in a loving, long-term
relationship is to show them.
- Encourage them to talk to you about difficult topics Establish
an environment of openness and non-judgment when you talk about
any difficult subject. Let your kids know they’re doing a wonderful
thing by asking questions, and wanting more information. If your
kids haven’t felt comfortable talking with you about difficult
things before, they won’t start by asking you about sexuality!
- Keep it light, and keep your sense of humor The lighter
you can keep this topic, the easier it will be for everyone. Sexuality
is a gift, and it can be a source of great joy. Let your kids
know that while there are some very serious issues around sexuality,
there’s also room for joy and humor.
Sex is the force that drives our existence on earth. It is filled
with mystery, joy and danger. And once you’ve experienced the wonder
of sex with someone you love, you will be changed forever. But while
sex holds the promise of great beauty, it also holds very adult-like
consequences, which are difficult for our kids to comprehend.
Fathers can help their kids avoid these consequences by being
there to inform and educate their kids, and to begin early in their
life. They can help by staying emotionally attached to their kids,
even when their kids “pull away” during the teenage years. And they
can help by preparing to help their kids navigate through the teen
years, which will offer countless challenges, including sexuality.
And if you do your job well, your children may one day be able
to enjoy this gift as well.
the Author: Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches fathers by phone
to balance their life and improve family relationshipsnow!
He is an Instructor for the Academy for Coaching Parents (www.acpi.biz)
and author of Secrets
of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers Ecourse http://www.markbrandenburg.com/25_secrets.htm