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I can clearly recall that once, during a lecture, the tutor told us that children can take in the information we give them according to their development. Thus, if my son can understand about electricity and I speak about this subject, he will understand. However, if the topic of electricity is too complex for him to understand, he will lose interest and simply let the information pass over him. I may have taken this too much at heart perhaps, because I always answer my son’s questions honestly and frankly on whichever topic is being brought up. I believe that this shows respect towards my son and encourages him in his learning. When it comes to the topic of sex education, I also take this stance; I answer his questions, provide him with facts and state what my opinions are.

The physical aspect of sex education is probably the easiest to explain. It is important to provide our children with the correct information without trying to use certain information to scare your children away from experimentation, at any stage in their life. It is important to explain how the male body functions and also how the female body functions. Even boys should understand about the menstrual cycle and how one can become pregnant. This includes information about STIs, dysfunctions, contraceptives, sexual intimacy and sexual intercourse. Whatever your views and values are about the topic, you can explore them with your child. It is important to show them that some information is factual, and other information is based according to your interpretation. This is a good way to encourage a discussion and let your child express his own reflections on what you are discussing.

Apart from the physical aspect, it is also important to talk about gender and sexuality, how one expresses himself, how to set boundaries and to have a voice when it comes to sexuality. Sex is not confined to intercourse between a boy and a girl, who are in a relationship. It can happen when you’re alone, perhaps watching pornography. It can happen in a number of different contexts, which may also lead to a discussion about alcohol or drugs, the partying scene, being involved with individuals who you don’t know, etc… these are all good starting points to discuss with your son and provide him with the tools he may need to feel safe and to be comfortable with giving consent or not being given consent.

Whatever approach and information you are trying to give to your child. Make sure that you made some research about it and keep up to date with what is happening. Your child will engage better and value your input much more if he is confident that what you are saying makes sense and reflects the reality he may be meeting with his friends. Always validate your child’s emotions and thoughts, clarify anything that may be misinformed and do not assume that because he is a boy he doesn’t need to know certain things.

Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on abigail@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.