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Why 'the talk' should be an ongoing dialogue with your child
Why those awkward conversations are necessary and totally worth it. - photo by Erin Stewart
About a year ago, I had the talk with my daughter. It was awkward, but I was super adult and suppressed my inner 9-year-old giggles every I used anatomically correct words. This was pretty much a colossal achievement for me. The conversation went off without a hitch. No major trauma to either party.

Sex talk. Check. Parenting win.

So why didnt anyone tell me that the talk is not a one-and-done kind of situation? Since that original conversation, my daughter has had follow-up questions, which lead to clarification questions, which lead down paths Im not sure Im quite ready to follow just yet.

We had another one of these follow-up chats the other night, and I put on my best big-girl face and made it through another conversation. The topic this time: Why do people do that thing we talked about if they dont want babies?

Red alert! Red alert! Shes on to us!

In my head, little mes ran around in a panic, jumping into lifeboats to save themselves and rolling on the floor in the fetal position. Outwardly, I remained calm.

I pondered this question for a moment, mostly to buy time because I was fully aware that my answer would have a ripple effect throughout my daughters formative years.

I proceeded with caution and answered her questions the best way I could, trying to ignore the look of complete repulsion on her face. Im not going to write exactly what I said because I dont want to rob any of you parents out there from the joy of coming up with your own unique way of totally grossing out your kids and making them look at you with judgy disgust to say, Why? Why would you do that?

But heres the thing I keep learning every time we have one of these heart-to-hearts about the more adult side of life: What I say is far less important than how I say it.

While the information is important, I dont believe its this colossal life-changing moment where she is either destined for success or doomed to failure. What matters most is that Im there, listening to her and respecting her enough to answer her questions honestly.

Sure, a big part of me wants to run screaming from the room or just burst out laughing because inside I am still that immature kid in health class laughing at the ovary picture on the chalkboard. But I dont. I force myself to sit calmly and answer my daughters questions with love and respect. Even though my mind is buzzing the whole time with doubts of whether Im saying the right thing, the most important thing is that Im saying something. Im equipping her with the information she needs to know to make informed decisions in the future, and Im hopefully laying a groundwork of open communication between us.

And the reason I know its working? When we finished our conversation, I wrapped her in a hug and she said these magical words: Mom, youre really easy to talk to about this stuff. Thanks.

Be still, my mothering heart.

Id sit through 10,000 awkward sex talks for feedback like that. And hopefully, I will sit through many more chats like this with my children. I may not always have the answers, but Ill be there no matter the topic or the time of night with a hug and listening ear.
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