That doesn’t mean that you should talk to your five-year-old about condoms and birth control, however. Basic sex education starts with, well, the very very basics. Over at the sex education site Amaze, there’s an entire section, Amaze Jr., that offers resources for talking about sex with kindergarteners and grade schoolers—including a whole collection of videos that are specially designed to guide parents through the process of talking to kids about sex.
But also know it’s never too late. These days, Jeselin Marizan, 16, is a youth ambassador for Amaze, and she’s passionate about the importance of giving kids access to honest, accurate information about sex. Yet she didn’t grow up having those talks herself. The daughter of a teen mom, she was mostly raised to see sex as something to be avoided. “I was always kind of scared to bring it up,” she admits.
But after Covid hit, Jeselin began volunteering with a number of health education orgs—and sex education became a part of her life. She started to casually bring topics like birth control up with her mom and was thrilled to find it was something they could talk about together. Though she wishes they’d started having these conversations much, much earlier, she’s grateful that the door is open now.
Keep the conversation going. “Some parents consider ‘the talk’ just to be a one-time thing. But conversations around sex, sexuality, love, and relationships should be an ongoing conversation,” says LeKara Simmons, Amaze program manager and strategic brand smbassador. The more you normalize discussions about sex and bodies, the more you build trust with your kid—and the more likely it is that they’ll turn to you, and not a peer or a potentially sketchy website, when they have questions about sex in the future.
But talking regularly about sex doesn’t mean you have to keep rehashing the same talking points about where babies come from or how to use condoms over and over again. Sex is about more than just the mechanics. Learning about sexism, respect for other people’s bodily autonomy, and media literacy is just as important as making sure that they know how a sperm and an egg create a baby.
Find good resources online (and off)—and make sure your kids know about them. No matter how great a job you do at talking to your kids about sex, there are always going to be conversations they don’t want to have with you. So make sure they know they have other places to turn to. That could be another trusted adult—an aunt, an uncle, a family friend—or it could be one of the many fantastic sex ed resources that exist online and off.
Websites like Amaze, Scarleteen, Sex, Etc, and Planned Parenthood and books like Let’s Talk About It!, Sex is a Funny Word, Wait, What?, and S.E.X.: The Scarleteen Book! are all great resources for kids who are curious about sex. Make sure your kids know about them.