What age should you have "the talk"? editor, Kristy Woudstra, wonders how young is too young and how much information is too much information?

By Kristy Woudstra
What age should you have "the talk"?

Little bit of life photography/iStock

I still remember my mom sitting down and asking me (totally out of the blue) if there was anything I wanted to know about "you know". I squirmed in the wave of awkwardness that swept over me. I was 19 and a month or two away from getting married. It was way late to have "the talk".

Reserved is probably the best word to describe my mom and dad's parenting style.Sex, private parts and anything related were taboo subjects in my house. I grew up in an ultra-conservative, Christian home to parents who immigrated from Holland after the war. (I often joke that my family didn't even shower naked.)

I had to find out what sex meant by looking it up in the dictionary at the age of nine or 10. I had so many questions at the time, but there was absolutely no way I could talk to my parents about it.

Of course, times have totally changed and I want my daughter to be able to talk to me. More than anything, I just want her to get the facts right.

I've taught her the correct names for body parts and have to remind her that they're not jokes (especially at the dinner table, sigh). I follow the "take it as it comes" approach. I remember reading some where at sometime by someone (or maybe it was on Oprah) to take your kid's lead on what to talk about and when. They'll ask the questions as they're ready to learn about it. The Globe and Mail ran an article today that seems to agree with this concept.

I got a chance to test this philosophy with my six-year-old a couple of weeks ago. The conversation went like this:

Rory: "Mama, I know what sexy means." Me: "Really? What does it mean?" Rory: "It's when a guy and a girl take their clothes off and lie on the couch and kiss ." Me: "Well, that's not what sexy means. I think you're talking about sex." Rory: "Yeah, sex. I learned about it at school. From my friends." Me: "There's a bit more to sex than that. Do you want to know?" Rory: "Yes!"

So I gave her the basics, which she thought was disgusting and asked me what was for dinner. Conversation over. For now.


I definitely don't want to follow in my parents' footsteps of silence. I'm not uncomfortable talking about this stuff with Rory at all. I just don't want to tell her more than she's ready for. But she's already talking about it in the playground! Let's hope I'm not already too late.

What do you think? Is there a right age to have "the talk"?

This article was originally published on Apr 16, 2012

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