Getting parents ready for the 'talk'

Support for you to start talking about relationships and sexuality.

As a parent of tweens, Sonia was never quite sure what the right time was to tackle ‘the talk’. She knew some of her friends were already having conversations with their children about things like bodies and how they change, and the meaning of certain words heard on the playground.

She was nervous. Sonia didn’t feel equipped or confident that she could start the conversation, or that she even had the right information to pass on.

Sonia’s feelings are completely understandable. Many of us didn’t receive quality education about relationships and sexuality as children and had to work it out for ourselves as we grew up.

It’s never too early or too late to start talking to your children about sexuality. Children and young people will learn about relationships and sexuality from many avenues, but home is where this valuable learning starts. Daily life creates many opportunities to pass on positive messages about bodies, trust, types of touch, privacy, respect and relationships.

Max Heers is Project Coordinator at True Relationships & Reproductive Health, an organisation that delivers Relationships and Sexuality Education in schools across Queensland. Max believes that the newly developed Relationship Ready online training package created specifically for parents and carers, offers the needed support to prepare for these discussions.

“There are free interactive online modules which are packed full of information and activities designed to boost your confidence when having conversations about relationships and sexuality with the children and young people in your care,” Max explained.

 “People often confuse the word sexuality with sex but sexuality is much broader than biology and reproduction.  It encompasses emotional, social, mental and physical dimensions of a human being from birth to death,” Max explains. “Sexuality covers a broad range of topics which includes the naming of private body parts, personal safety (behaviours to help keep children and young people safe from abuse), reproduction, puberty, consent, diversity and respectful relationships.”

It’s natural for children to be curious and seek out information from multiple sources, especially as they are increasingly immersed in a world of technology. Children will also learn about relationships and sexuality from the internet, movies, music videos, computer games, advertising and their friends. Some of these sources may not provide accurate information which is why it is so important for parents and carers to have an open, positive dialogue at home.  While the classroom might provide information on the science of sexuality, the home is where family values and lived experiences are shared.

Children and young people who have accurate and clear information about bodies, relationships and sexuality are more likely to; understand their physical and emotional changes, have higher self-confidence and avoid sexual abuse.  

The Relationship Ready parent and carer package developed by True Relationships & Reproductive Health is full of information and resources on these topics. It helps parents and carers learn how to talk about them with children and young people. It includes activities and videos to share with children and young people and provides free access to the Talking Together puberty workbook containing interactive or printable activity sheets for young people to complete.

Parents & Carers register here

Professional Development for Schools and teachers to build confidence and capability in teaching relationships and sexuality education in the classroom is also available.

School-based staff register here