Here’s what you said about your kids’ sex questions…
Outspoken surveyed 84 parents this month about the questions we get from our children on sex, bodies, consent and relationships; on how confident we feel in our answers, and on what would help make us more confident.
Outspoken is working on turning these responses into the most useful services and resources we can – but here’s what you need to know in the meantime…
1. Our kids’ questions are good questions!
Most kids, by the time they’re 3 or 4 or 5, have shone their natural curiosity on the people and relationships around them. So it’s no surprise that body parts, babies and marriage feature high on the list of question topics.
If you’re the parent of the toddler who asked: “Why do you have two bottoms”, buckle up: this is only the beginning! Sex, consent, periods and pleasure are some of the next most common questions.
Here are some of our favourites:
“Can I marry Daddy? OK – what about Grandma?” and “Does getting married mean you have to have a baby?”
“What’s that vulva hole called where mummies put the thing in and little girls don’t?”
“Why does it feel nice when I stroke myself? Why should I only do it in private?”
“How much do periods hurt?”
“How do gay people have sex?”
“Was I planned or an accident?”
“Is the man always on top?”
Wouldn’t you want to know the same things if you didn’t already?
2. Some kids don’t ask questions – and some ask loads
A lot of the questions parents reported were from young children. There were far fewer from parents of secondary-age kids – as anyone with secondary-age kids can probably readily imagine.
But here’s another thing we noticed: plenty of young kids were reported to have asked “no questions” or to be “not interested”. There was probably one shy kiddy for every curious cat.
We think a lot depends on personality here. Parents may need two different types of help – on not only how to answer questions but also how to encourage them. Family openness is like the doing the splits: it takes a lot of practice and gets harder to do the later you leave it.
3. We need help with porn & sexting
Parents feel they have it sussed when it comes to questions on body parts, changing bodies and body image. Gender stereotypes don’t faze us. But we feel considerably less confident talking to our children about porn and sexting.
If you’re in the same boat, go to our Porn & Sexting page for the best advice and resources.
4. One last thing: mums are still doing most of the talking
87% of respondents were women, and of the mums 91% said they are the person who is most likely to talk to their children about sex & relationships.
We know that when fathers are involved in their children’s education in general, children achieve higher grades, embark on less risky behaviour and end up with more occupational mobility (according to the UK’s Fatherhood Institute). A positive father-daughter relationship can have a huge impact on a girl’s self-esteem. Generally dads have a disproportionate effect on their children’s outcomes compared with mums: unfair but true.
So maybe it’s only when fathers step up that we can expect to see the needle shift on matters of equality, inclusivity and sexual behaviour. In summary: 10 karma points if you can point a dad our way… 20 if you are one...