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How to talk to your kids about sex

How to talk to your kids about sex

Thinking about having “the talk” with kids — whether they’re your own children or ones who look to you for guidance — can be a little stressful. You might be worried about saying the wrong thing or simply dreading the awkward silences that might come with it. But we can all agree that it’s important to be open and communicative when it comes to talking to and teaching kids about sex.

We asked LOLA co-founder, Jordana Kier, to sit down with her own mom, Ellen, for an honest conversation about “the talk,” how their conversation went, and how best to approach the situation.

Read the full interview here:

Jordana: Hey everyone! I’m Jordana Kier. I’m one of the co-founders of LOLA. I am here with my mom, Ellen, because we thought it would be really cool as we kick off Sexual Health Awareness Month to talk about the conversations that we all dread — but sort of remember — around sex and how we are best prepared and feel ready to explore ourselves sexually. 

That’s a really weird thing to say. So, maybe to start we can talk a little bit about your experience getting the sex talk. 

Ellen: Well, my experience was, I would call, unusual. My mom was very sick when I was a teenager, and she actually passed away when I was turning 16, so my grandmother was living with us. I was sharing a bedroom with my grandmother, so all my sexual information was from my grandma. And she basically, I think, said that she had sex two times in her life: when she had her daughter and her son. And her husband passed away young so she kept on telling me how she would never have sex with a man ever again. And then the only other thing she said to me was, “Repeat after me: penises are ugly, penises are ugly.” So, I have to say that was quite a… different way of hearing about sex.

And I think I had sex ed in middle school. I think it was seventh grade. And I got my period I think when I was 13 on Christmas Day. And I was thinking, “this is not the red that I want to see on Christmas Day.”

I guess when it came to teaching you about sex I think all the mechanics you learned in middle school also. Wasn’t it fifth grade?

Jordana: I think it was. But it’s interesting, like, you sort of assumed that I had learned it all. 

Ellen: I guess I did. I mean, as far as the mechanics go, yeah. I think the one thing… I was thinking about what did I actually talk to you about, it was never one sit down talk. I think it was more a process over the years of you being a teenager, you know, from fifth grade to 12th grade. I was just saying always, you know, put other people first. Be kind. Be thoughtful. But then when it came to, you know, the issue of sex, that you should put yourself first and be in control. 

Jordana: I mean, I don’t remember any of that. 

Ellen: So your memory is as bad as mine? 

Jordana: I guess so. I don’t really remember… I mean we didn’t have a sit down conversation about sex. I remember when I was a senior in high school you asked if maybe it was time for me to go on birth control. 

Ellen: Right. 

Jordana: But that was, like, really the only acknowledgement — actual acknowledgement — we had about the potential that I was being sexually active. 

Ellen: That’s true. 

Jordana: Yeah, it’s weird because we’re so close. 

Ellen: That’s true. I mean, we communicate about everything but that was just one thing that we never… I trusted you, I guess. I just trusted your instincts.

Molly: So, Jordana. What do you want… when you give the talk to your daughter. I mean, I guess this question is: when Rose gets the talk, what do you want her to know. 

Jordana: I mean, Rose is never having sex. And she’s just going to be my best friend forever and never have any other friends.

I want Rose to… I don’t know. It’s interesting, like, when we launched the business and we came up specifically with the First Period Kit, I think for so many young girls now what we see is that they embrace their changing bodies and they understand and aren’t necessarily ashamed of what’s happening to them. And so to me, for Rose, and the way I want to have a conversation with her, I like the idea of maybe not just sitting down and sort of having this formal, awkward moment where, you know, I maybe walk away and I feel like I’ve checked a box. But it’s sort of this ongoing conversation that I can have with her and, as she has questions, you know, make the environment so supportive and comfortable that she feels comfortable and OK coming to me with those questions as she evolves. It’s easier said than done.

Ellen: Yeah, I think it probably will be a process like it was for me even though I didn’t say much to you. I think it’s hard to just have. It seems kind of stilted to have, to sit down and say, “Here’s your talk,” and may not be the right time. So it may be, like, an organic process. 

Jordana: Yeah. I think that’s a better way to approach it. 

Molly: What’s the one piece of advice you would give to moms or dads or parents about giving “the talk” to their kids. As somebody who’s received it and somebody who’s given it. 

Jordana: I feel like for me, the reason why maybe I take your advice so [much] to heart and put a lot of weight into what you say and sort of how that changes my perspective on things, I think it stems from the fact that you share your stories with me and I heard the story about great-grandma saying penises are ugly. And maybe it’s, you know, when you can share your own vulnerabilities and your stories and how you learned about stuff, it helps to make your parents — or anybody who’s giving you the talk — more of a person and a human. Starting with your own journey and and sharing your own vulnerabilities and the way that you approached your own questions and concerns, I think is a really good way to start. 

Ellen: I remember you would sometimes talk about girls in your school or girls that you knew that were, you know, “fast.” 

Jordana: Maybe I was talking about myself? [laughs]

Ellen: I think they would use the word “sluts,” and I know that I definitely reacted to that and didn’t want you to demonize those girls, and try to think of them — look at them — with compassion instead of scorn. 

Jordana: That’s true. You were really, you still are, like, the nicest person. 

Ellen: Well.

Thinking about having “the talk” soon? LOLA’s Sexual Wellness Kit includes our honest, real-life guide to sexual wellness, which covers everything from consent, your first time, having safe sex, and more. Plus, it has gynecologist-approved products to help lead a healthy sex life.

You can never have too much info! Take a look at some more resources for talking to your kids about sex:

Having a productive conversation with your child about sex

How to talk to your son about consent

Raising sons that care about women’s health