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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jewett

Getting over ourselves – overcoming the embarrassment of talking with kids about sex

Sex Clinic star Dr Naomi Sutton – who, we’re proud to say, sits on the Outspoken Sex Ed Advisory Board – has lots to say, both as a consultant physician and as a mother, about the embarrassment and shame around talking openly at home. In the 14 October interview Dr Naomi Sutton Talks Sexual Health, she tells author/entrepreneur Anne Welsh how she got it “dreadfully wrong” in answering the question: “Mummy, what’s a condom?”

Anne Welsh Sex is not a subject that comes so easily for parents to talk about. For my mother it was: “Let’s delete that subject and you figure it out as you go along.” But what if you run into problems along the line and then you’re not quite sure how to solve them?

Dr Naomi Sutton Historically parents don’t talk to children about sex. There are a lot of misconceptions. Parents are worried if they open that box because: 1) they don’t know quite how to answer the questions but also 2) sometimes they feel: “If I talk about sex, my kids are going to go out and have lots of sex.” But look at how Sweden and places with better sex education have much lower rates of teenage pregnancy.

I would encourage you: don’t make it into “a chat” with your children. Have the chat all the time, like you talk about food and exercise and work. Bring it into everyday conversations, and then your children won’t find it a difficult subject.

So my daughter, who’s 9, knows that her “private areas”, for want of a better word, are called a vulva and the vagina is the tube. I’ve got a son, aged 11, who knows the word testicles and hopefully will get all the prizes in his sex ed!