Discussing relationships with the children

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relationships, emotions, discussing, children, prearation for adulthood
I have every intention of telling my kids relationships are rarely like this. Photo credit below.

Do you talk to your children about relationships? If so, what do you discuss?

I don’t mean friendships, we frequently discuss these things in our household. I mean romance, love, dare I say it sex and all the emotional stuff that goes with it.

I appreciate that I’m maybe worrying about this stuff a bit too soon. After all, my oldest child has only just started in year one and my youngest is still in nappies. Even if it is too soon, I think I’m right to give this issue considered thought and prepare myself for the future.

I won’t say too much about my past. Suffice it to say I’ve been hurt and I’ve hurt others. While I know you can only go so far in protecting your kids, I’d like to think I can help them avoid mistakes I’ve made.

When I was growing up, relationships and emotions just weren’t discussed in my family. I say that, I recall one awkward conversation with my mother when I was 15 years of age.

She tried valiantly to tackle the issue of contraception when she had a sneaky suspicion I was, ahem, involved with a woman several years older than me. As it happens I wasn’t, but that is only part of a grim story that saw me exploited and introduced to some very unsavoury characters. It could have had an awful ending and was exactly the sort of thing involving a member of the opposite sex I don’t want my offspring to experience.

It’s funny how you recall these moments. I clearly remember that I was reading the Daily Telegraph while my mother was trying to chat to me. It was an article about Bob Dylan and I felt so awkward I didn’t want to look up and meet her eyes (A 15 year old Daily Telegraph reading folky. I was never going to have much luck with this older lady was I?)

I like to think times have changed. I want to believe mums and dads in this era are more open to the idea of discussing romantic relationships, emotions, the pit falls, abuse and how to avoid it.

I’m not saying I’ll be particularly good at this stuff. Nonetheless, I actively want to talk to my kids about these issues, even though it will mean being open and honest about my background.

How do you handle this stuff? Perhaps you have older children and have been through this? Maybe you have younger kids and, like me, are thinking about how to speak to your children about relationships and emotions? Are you taking the ostrich approach and ignoring discussions about relationships altogether?

Super Busy Mum

Photo credit: Christopher Michel. Sourced from Wikimedia. Reproduced under Creative Commons agreement. For more information about Creative commons and for links to the various licenses, see my Disclosure page.

14 thoughts on “Discussing relationships with the children”

  1. We had a very small incident at nursery a few months back that got me thinking about this. My girl is only 2 but I was still concerned at how much it got me thinking. We arrived at nursery and one of the boys there came to give E a hug. That morning she didn’t like it and started to cry. The nursery worker said “E! You were ok doing that yesterday!” I was pretty annoyed as I would prefer that E’s preferences as to who touches her and how are respected and not questioned but how to put that across to a nursery worker with a bunch of children wanting their breakfast? I left, not wanting to make a thing of it.

    This seems to me to be the first instance of this kind of education – I was surprised at how young it’s occurred, but I think it’s best to start off getting E to be strong about respecting her body from an early age. And everything else stems from this.

    We’ll see.

    1. Thanks for commenting Sue and what tricky example. I would like to think in the nurseries we have used the staff would have intervened…but as you say this individual was trying to give the kids their breakfast. If you’d visited at another time she may well have dealt with the situation in a more appropriate manner. I certainly wouldn’t be afraid of taking it up with the management. I also know at my eldest’s old nursery the staff were incredibly strict about stopping the kids from kissing. The only similar example I once witnessed was a young boy playing with my daughter incredibly roughly. I didn’t kick up a fuss as she left to go to school a few days later but I absolutely will instill in the kids the idea that their body is to be respected by others at all times.

  2. I’m terrible at it! My son is 13 now and I’m guessing he must be starting to be interested in girls. I think the dads should speak to the boys – only because I’m not brave enough! I can talk to him about treating women (and gay men and everyone else) with respect, but not about the actual sex.
    My daughter keeps asking where babies come from and I just can’t bring myself to tell her. Pathetic, I know! She’s 8 and a half and I know that I knew at her age because I learned it at school (and my mum was pregant with my sister). My sister is now pregnant and my daughter would love to know where her unborn cousin came from. She’s also picking up on the fact that not all babies are planned and asking about that. I just can’t find the words to tell her.
    Sex was never discussed at home when I was growing up and never laughed at on TV etc, this is probably why I struggle.

    1. Fascinating response Sarah. I’ve already discussed where babies come from with our five year old (I wanted to do it with my wife present but reality dictated this couldn’t happen). Although she knows, she couldn’t have been less interested! To my amazement she also had sex education while in reception class last year so even if I hadn’t told her, she would have found out anyway. I guess I’m just less inhibited that my mother and stepfather!

  3. Pingback: Discussing sex and relationships with the children C/O @DadBlogUK

  4. Tom @Ideas4Dads (and Mums Too!)

    A Daily Telegraph reader……I had you soooo down as a Daily Fail reader ๐Ÿ˜‰ But seriously with 3 daughters this is something althougha bit early as my eldest is only four and a half I would hope when the time is right i will be able to have open conversations and engender openess so my girls feelthwy can be open and discuss anything with myself and High Command. As always great though provoking post ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’ve blogged quite a few times about this subject and the talks the boys and I have had. My 22 yo visited last month with his girlfriend for 2 weeks, this is the first time any of them have had a girl stay over, there seemed to be a lot of concern about how I’d feel with their visit, but son left home 4 years ago, been with his GF for over a year. However it was my son who laid down a list of rules about privacy and own space…………..mmmmmmm not my privacy, but his

    1. Oh my word. This does my head in. I know all this is stuff I am going to have to deal with at some point. Better to be open and honest I think. Interestingly (and based purely on anecdotal evidence) I get the impression I’ve been a lot more open and honest than a lot of other parents. There seems to be a lot of awkwardness about it….and yet I recall we all needed to know this stuff to become parents in the first place.

  6. I have two teenage boys and I’ll be honest…I dont need to tell them anything as the world as it is today….they know! They know they need to be careful when I know boys being boys they wont always be thinking with the right ‘head’ however I am hoping they will keep their wits about them when their time comes. But if I’m brutally honest? I’m in denial! MY BOYS ARENT OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE SEX…nor will they ever be! I demand they be babies again right this instant, lol! Great post as always and sorry I’m only getting round to commenting now!!! Thanks so much for linking up! #MMWBH x

    1. Keep telling yourself Debs…it might even be true! Thanks for stopping by. Can’t quite believe you’re old enough to have two teenagers TBH!

  7. The relationship stuff is hard. The sex bit is easier because it’s fact. And starting young imo removes it from being a naughty thing to snigger about because it’s just fact and not that interesting by the time school mates are joking about it and whispering about how they’ve heard a new thing. My mum bought me a book at about 8 or 9, all about the body/puberty and relationships. Did fine for me.

    I’d hope that most things about relationships are absorbed from watching how parents act (not going to be a normal thing in our house because we’re a little diverse from how I would explain ‘normal’ relationships. But I’ll be talking to N through general views on the world, what we see, how other parents and partnerships relate and work together, and the respect and love for your partner.

    N already at 5 knows about the basics of making babies (it take a seed and egg to come together), he knows how his fellow reception pupil has potentially come about even though he has 2 mums (I didn’t expect to be talking about test tubes, ivf, surrogacy, donors, adoption options for people who can’t have babies naturally with a 5 year old), and how babies come out of a different hole that mummies have. I don’t think I went further than this but I must have done because he stated the other day that daddies put their willies in mummies privates. Don’t remember saying that, but I’m sure they’ve not started PSE yet in reception, or if they have they’ve not asked the parents if they want their children pulling out. When I told the OH what N had said, he was horrified and said he shouldn’t know that stuff. But in my opinion if he was asking questions I’d rather answer correctly.

    I think the OH was hoping that he could explain it when they see a bull mounting a cow in the field. Although I was quite glad that wasn’t the explanation given I’ve recently had a conversation correcting N who reckoned that if you had 100 cows you had to have 80 bulls for them…I explained you probably only needed a couple depending on how good they were. Maybe not a good analogy for monogamous human relationships.

    1. Ummm, yeah, the whole bull / cow thing would be one way of explaining sex to young child. I think sitting down with mummy and daddy and discussing it would probably be best!

      Ayt my daughter’s school, they discussed RSE in reception. I’d already discussed sex with er, but what surprised me is that she came home one day talking about same sex marriage so I had to explain this to her as well!

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