‘The talk’ is an ongoing conversation

Published 5:22 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

By Nathan Rice

Columnist

I don’t think he was expecting to have the conversation that I was about to start, but I knew that I needed to check in with him about some things.

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“I want to talk a little bit about what we discussed a while ago,” I said. “I know that when we first discussed anatomy, puberty and sex that we talked about when it was OK to have sex, but now that you’re older, it’s something that I want to make sure you understand fully.”

It didn’t seem that it was that long ago that we had “the talk,” but time moves quickly. He did well during those initial discussions, and I was confident that he knew the facts of life. However, he’s 13 years old now and has moved from childhood into adolescence.

I made sure to cover the “when” as well as the “how” during those initial discussions, but I knew it was a lot for him to take in at that time. Now that he’s older, it was important to discuss the “when” once again.

The facts of life shouldn’t be a one-time discussion. Children continue to grow after the first “talk,” and we owe it to them to be prepared to address things that they might not have thought about previously. We should keep our ears open to what they are saying for clues that they may be wondering about something. The chances are that they won’t ask us directly, so it’s up to us to watch and listen to ensure that we are continually providing the guidance they need.

Just like the first conversations regarding sex and sexuality, we must move past any trepidation that we have about discussing this topic. Discussions about this topic should continue with them as they grow and mature. We cannot allow a fear about discussing the topic of sex keep us from having additional conversations as they are needed.

When we continue the conversation with them, it’s important to ask them if they have any questions or if there is anything that they don’t understand. A simple question of “What questions do you have about what we just discussed?” provides them the opportunity to get clarity on something that they may not have understood or were too embarrassed to ask earlier. They might be hesitant to ask, so asking them for questions may help them feel more comfortable bringing something up.

Continuing the talk also allows them to see that you’re willing to discuss these things with them, and that you care about them in this area of their life. Helping explain things about which they may be confused, clarifying your beliefs about when it is acceptable to engage in sex, and continuing the conversation helps them know that they don’t have to feel awkward about discussing sex and sexuality with you.

I am glad that I continued the talk with him. I know now that he is fully aware of my beliefs about sex and sexuality and that I am always available to discuss this further with him. It’s not always an easy conversation, but it is a needed conversation.

 

Nathan Rice, a Hampton Roads resident since 1988, is a branch operations manager for a regional credit union in Virginia and North Carolina. He has volunteered with children and youth through various organizations for over 15 years. He is interim pastor at Portsmouth Nazarene Church. His email address is libertynathan2@yahoo.com.