Any parent who has initiated “the talk” with their child has experienced qualms about what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. It would be awesome to channel a sex-pert during these talks and merely let the words flow succinctly, accurately, and in a manner that eliminates the inevitable eyeball roll of your all-knowing child.
When discussing sexuality with young people, a serious approach is often encouraged as a means to demand respect for the topic. I totally get that. Sexual health is a serious issue that encompasses discussions about decision-making, goal-setting, personal values, healthy relationships – oh, and condoms and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well. The information young people learn from their parents, community, schools, religious community, and the media will influence the choices they make now and in the future.
You ask yourself, “Adolescent sexuality is not funny! Why humor?”
Infusing humor into a conversation can increase the comfort level to help engage our kids in meaningful dialogue. A certain levity encourages kids to open up and feel safe asking questions.
Humor evens the conversational playing field. With humor, there is a middle ground in which mutual respect and a commonality can be reached. This can enable two-way, honest conversation. On the flipside, lecturing about the sins of sex automatically turns on the mute button in our child’s mind. Remember, they are inundated with s-e-x on a daily basis. Between their own hormones egging them on, media encouraging promiscuous behavior, and peer influences, they grapple with confusing messages. Do not squelch their concerns with an unbalanced lecture.
There are a few things to consider when talking to kids about sex with a humorous approach.
1. Be yourself. If you tend to have a zero sense of humor, yet still try to crack a few jokes, your kids will think you have lost your mind. Stay sane.
2. If it is not funny to the child, it is not funny.
3. Not every topic about sexuality should be taken lightly. Dating mishaps? Funny. Dating violence? Not funny.
4. If a child comes to you with a serious question, do not minimize their feelings with a joke and an off-hand comment. Look them in the eye, listen to what they are saying, confirm what they are communicating, then answer the question or merely listen respectfully.
5. Each child is unique, with diverse thoughts about sexuality. The conversational style needs to be custom-tailored to the child.
6. Again – keep in mind there is a time and a place for humor.
Infusing humor into the discussion reflects the idea that sex is actually…fun. I know, you are thinking — I don’t want my kids to think this is FUN!! Let me throw it back to you – why not?? They will spend many more years having sex than not having sex. Certainly you wish for them to have a fulfilling, satisfying, close relationship with their life partner, right? Sharing a few romantic laughs allows for an intimacy that can only strengthen relationship bonds.
Now, go find your kids and share a few laughs.
Kim Cook, the author of Teen World Confidential: Five Minute Topics to Open Conversation about Sex and Relationships, is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a former elementary school nurse. As an educator, she supports parents to have healthy and productive conversations about sex and relationships with their kids. Understanding that parents often need support to get the conversations started, she has initiated the National Sex Education Day campaign, which encourages parents to spend just ten minutes engaging in age-appropriate conversations with their children on February 2. Her website is TeenWorldConfidential.com
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