Bringing humour and sensitivity to those awkward conversations

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and when I reflect on how my husband and I managed the awkward questions and curiosity from our children around bodies, how babies are made, sex, puberty, feelings and relationships, I wish we had been a little more prepared. Regularly being caught off guard probably resulted in very long-winded answers that were a little unnecessary. Fortunately, our children only took in what they needed to know and filtered out the rest!

As parents, we want to our children to feel comfortable and reassured that they can come to us with their questions and know that we will listen and give clear and honest answers. Ignoring your child’s questions is worse than giving them an uncomfortable answer. We want our children to trust a safe adult for reliable, age-appropriate information, because otherwise, they will go to unreliable sources (such as friends, older siblings, or the internet) and may end up hearing things you don’t want them to, and that aren’t good for them.

If you show your child that you’re approachable, you’re letting them build their confidence in you. And you’re showing them you are a person they can rely on later, when it comes to risk management in their lives, when things like sex, relationships, drugs, alcohol and so on begin to be relevant for some teenagers.

With this in mind, all JSK families were invited to join our age-appropriate online Parent and Child forums last week that were facilitated by a specialised educator from Sex Education Australia. Approximately 90 JSK families attended these sessions which brought families together to discuss, learn about and share knowledge and insights in a sensitive and helpful way. The content was age appropriate, simple, easy and fun, and families enjoyed the opportunity to sit with their child and learn how to start and continue these very important discussions at their own pace and in a way that suits individual families.

Sex Education Australia offer five tips to answering tricky questions, I hope these help you to be better prepared than I was!

  • Try not to over answer, just address the question.
  • Use clear and simple language.
  • You don’t have to be perfect; you can tell your child you are feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed. Make sure you keep their confidence so that you are building trust for future conversations.
  • Take them seriously, they might ask a question that surprises you, and your answer should depend on how much you think they should know and what you feel is appropriate. You might like to ask them why they are asking about it in a curious rather than interrogating way.
  • It’s okay to take time, you might like to do a bit more research or ask a friend how they managed a similar question. Make sure you revisit the chat again with your child rather than avoiding the question entirely.

Lee Taylor
Deputy Head – Student Learning