One of the best ways for a dad to protect his child from being sexually abused is by talking openly with their child about healthy sexuality. Doing this will allow them to be educated and aware of their own bodies and what’s appropriate and inappropriate in terms of the way they interact with others.
Talking about healthy sexuality makes a lot of dads uncomfortable. Here are 5 tips on how you can successfully talk to your child.
- Don’t think of it as one big talk. A lot of dads think of talking about [word removed] as sitting your child down in their pre-teen years and giving them everything you think they might possibly need to know in one big long spiel. This is NOT the most effective way to give them the information. Instead of one big talk, have a series of little talks with them, starting when they’re just toddlers.
- Look for opportunities. Once you start looking for something, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll see it. If you start looking for opportunities to talk to your child about consent, or proper body part names, or pregnancy, they’ll appear. If it’s a conversation you’re a little uncomfortable about, it’s worth the time and energy to make an opportunity to talk.
- Pick just one topic at a time. If you go into a conversation with your child armed to the teeth with information, don’t feel like you have to unload it all in one go. Allow them to lead the conversation, ask questions, or tell you how they feel about a subject. Don’t feel pressure to work through all your knowledge – build on these little talks every time you have them.
- Don’t be afraid if you don’t have all the answers. Kids' minds work in mysterious ways sometimes. Something you said might make them ask a question that you’ve never even considered and have no idea how to answer. So decide ahead of time what you’ll say. You’ll want to encourage their curiosity and not shut them down just because you don’t have the answer. Don’t fall into the trap of the stereotypical dad that must have all the answers.
- Do your best. No dad is perfect. And not every conversation will go the way you plan. With a series of little talks, however, there’s a lot less pressure than there would be if you had to do it all in one talk. Know that if you didn’t get it quite right, or if your answer wasn’t worded perfectly, there’s always another chance.
Take one minute out of your day today to think about what you want to talk to your child about. That’s really all it takes – one minute at a time; one talk at a time.