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If you’re at all like me, you don’t enjoy talking to kids about sex. I love talking to kids, and I love talking about sex, but the two together can get pretty awkward pretty fast.

With my little ones, this is mostly “funny” awkward. It’s my four-year-old asking every adult who sets foot in the house to read Mommy Laid an Egg to her. My one year old discovering she has genitals and wandering around the house excitedly showing them off. Having the “do not put rubber ducks in there” conversation, and the “your sister’s ‘booty’ is her private business” conversation and the “do not lift your dress over your head in public” conversation.

I’ve navigated these pretty well, I think. We have a small library of sex ed books for preschoolers. They understand the basics of growing and changing bodies. They know adults can get pregnant and have babies through some mysterious process that is outlined in all these books, but that process is much less interesting to them than the part where the mommies get fatter and fatter and fatter until a baby comes out.

With teenagers, things get harder. My stepson is 15 now, and I believe he could force the earth to open up and swallow him whole through the sheer force of his will were I to try a head-on discussion about healthy, safe sex. Happily for me, there are a lot of great resources out there to help him (and his parents) make sure he gets all the knowledge and support he needs. Hopefully without the earth swallowing anyone whole.

One of those resources is The Talk, written by my friend and health educator Jessica Mesick. Her blog explores topics that parents and teens need to know about sex and sex ed. Her approach is fun, accessible, and sane. Definitely worth checking out.

What resources have you used to talk with your kids about sex? What do you feel they need to know, and at what age should they know it?

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The scene: my bedroom, late at night. Y’all are adults, and can use your imaginations to fill in the action behind this (very quiet, sneaky, don’t-let-the-kids-catch-us) dialog:

Me: “mmmm”
Husband: “ooooh”
Me: “oh! oh! Oooooh!”

The door slams open, hard. We jump apart like teenagers caught in the back of a car. When I dare to peek out from under the covers, the doorway appears empty, but my husband says, “Oh no. The Sheriff’s back in town.”

I look down, and down. Then I see her: twenty-eight pounds of naked fury. Her hair is standing straight up on her head. She has, in her rage, vaporized her PJs* and is standing there naked as the day she was born. A little more naked, actually, since she is (happily) not covered with slime. Her hair is standing straight up on her head, adding an air of authority and stature to her chunky little frame. Her hands are balled into fists and her looks says everything:

Get your hands off my Mama!

Her dad and I stifle a laugh (from opposite sides of the bed, where we have been cowering since she slammed the door open). Sheriff Baby uses her superpowers to become airborne, launching herself onto the bed in a single bound. She latches onto my exposed nipple as she makes her descent, and is sleeping peacefully between us by the time her head hits the pillow.

I swear, they come with a built-in alarm system to ward off any future siblings. It’s OK, Sheriff, we’ve got it covered. You can sleep through this shift IN YOUR OWN BED.

*srsly, where did her PJs go? She was wearing them when she went to bed. When did that child learn to operate a zipper?

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A little bird told me…

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