No thanks: 1 in 5 parents say they’ll never have ‘the talk’ with their kids!

NEW YORK — For many parents, talking about the birds and the bees is a part of life for adolescents. For others, they’ll just leave it to their child’s school to teach them about human reproduction. In fact, according to a recent study, six in 10 American parents say they were raised to think sex was “taboo.”

OnePoll survey asked 2,000 parents with children between five and 18 to examine their own views about sex, including how they’ve addressed the topic with their kids. Fifty-eight percent of respondents have already spoken to their children about sex, and 21 percent plan to do so in the future. However, the same percentage (21%) don’t plan to bring up the “sex talk” at all.

Birds and bees in elementary school?

Perhaps surprisingly, 58 percent of parents whose kis are 10 to 13 and 57 percent of parents with kids between five and nine have given them “birds and the bees” talk. Even half of parents of children under four also had those conversations with them (51%). Interestingly, men were more likely to discuss sex with their kids than women (61% vs. 56%).

Of the 42 percent of parents who haven’t talked to their kids about sex, 37 percent cited their child’s young age as the main reason. One in three reported that their kids are learning sex education in school, and one in four said the other parent is taking the lead.

One in four admit they would feel awkward while having conversations about sex with their children (26%). Regardless of those feelings, seven in 10 agree the “birds and the bees” talk should happen at an early age, specifically because of how often kids are exposed to similar topics on social media and in other parts of daily life.

bird and bees

Keep the conversation going

Dr. Sara C. Flowers, vice president of education and training at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, encourages parents or caregivers to keep having ongoing conversations about sex rather than just having one “talk” to educate their children.

“These conversations are not one-and-done – they should start early and keep happening as kids change and grow,” she says in a statement. “For younger kids, this looks like knowing the correct names for all body parts. As kids grow up, they begin to understand what those body parts do. Sex education happens in building blocks, just like math. We start by learning the basics, like numbers and counting, and over time the conversations build up to more complex subjects like calculus.”

Respondents were also asked if their parents educated them about sex when they were younger. Nearly half said they received some form of the “sex talk” (47%), but another 30 percent never broached the subject.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents add that their parents avoided talking to them about sex because they were too young. Now, as parents themselves, respondents are trying to be more approachable to their kids.

Seven in 10 say they want their children to feel comfortable discussing anything with them, even if it’s about sex education.

“A great place to begin is creating a safer space for these conversations at home,” Flowers adds. “The most important thing to remember is what you want your kid to get out of the conversation with you. For most parents and caregivers, we want our kids to feel comfortable coming to us with questions and feel confident that their questions will be met with support and honesty, not shame and judgment.”