How to Know When Your Child Is Ready... Sex

nt-family: Verdana;">The “S Word” in Adolesence

nt-family: Verdana;">One of the trickier paths to navigate with ’tweens and teens is physical intimacy with the opposite sex. Reports of adolescents engaging in oral sex as early as age 12 or 13 are probably as scary to ’tweens as they are to parents.

nt-family: Verdana;">“Certainly things are happening earlier,” acknowledges David Elkind, Ph.D., a renowned child-development expert and author of the landmark book The Hurried Child.. “One of the things I think is most important is that kids at this age not go out on single dates, but in a group. A group is much safer,” he says. “Single dating opens things up to all sorts of possibilities.” He suggests that 16 is a good age to begin single dating.

nt-family: Verdana;">But discussions between parent and child about sexual intimacy need to start at a younger age, says Jan Faull, M.Ed., a noted parenting educator, author and lecturer. “If you’re worried about your middleschooler being sexually active, you need to have those discussions about modesty, abstinence, premarital sex – whatever your values are – when your child is 8, 9 or 10. Those are the ages when children still like their parents; they listen to them and they’re open to their parents’ influences.”

nt-family: Verdana;">Then when the middleschooler is about to potentially deal with a boy-girl situation without parental supervision, you can bring up what might occur, she says. “You can say to the child, ‘If you’re walking to the park with two boys, they may have an idea that they want to kiss you or touch you. Let’s practice how to say no.’ So often kids are just caught off guard, thinking ‘I thought we’d just go to the park and run around and be silly, and here I am and these boys are trying to touch me.’”

nt-family: Verdana;">If you’ve talked about intimacy and readiness earlier on, you can bring up a specific situation like this more comfortably with your ’tween, Faull says.

nt-family: Verdana;">Main Article

nt-family: Verdana;">Ages 5 to 9

nt-family: Verdana;">Ages 10 to 13

The S Word in Adolescence

Ages 14 and up

Physical vs. Psychological Wellbeing