With my own kids growing up fast and the eldest on her way to double figures, writing my latest book proved a useful learning curve. You and Your Tween – selected by the Independent as one of their top ten parenting books – offers practical advice – and my sincere condolences – to all those living with a child in the 9-13 age range.

Yeah, right, whatever. You can buy your copy here >

Here’s an excerpt from You and your tween

A tween is still a child, and may seem to be a long way off the need for information about sex, not to mention embarrassed or horrified by the prospect of any kind of conversation with you about it. And for many parents, it simply isn’t an easy subject to broach – especially if their own parents were tight-lipped about it. But introducing the subject early on and in a natural, chatty way is all-important, because if you do, he’s far more likely to grow up knowing that sex can be a positive, pleasurable and natural part of relationships. With your guidance, he can learn what is and isn’t appropriate sexual behaviour, and – hopefully – be better equipped to resist pressure and make safer choices, when the time comes, and feel comfortable about coming to you for advice in the future.

In fact, evidence suggests that children who have good sex education, early on, are more likely to wait a while before becoming sexually active themselves, and less likely to go on to have an unplanned pregnancy or to catch a sexually transmitted disease. Anyway, let’s face it, if he doesn’t get the facts of life from you, he’s likely to get them from somewhere – and it may not be a reliable source.

A good general rule for this age group is to be guided by your child, and to exploit any cues that crop up to gently instigate conversation. So, always answer any questions he puts to you as honestly and appropriately as you can, and if something arises out of a television programme, for example, try to expand on it. It’s quite possible he genuinely does want some advice, or the chance to chat, but just can’t quite bring himself to say so – watch carefully, as his body language might give you a clue.

Don’t be surprised to find he already knows a surprising amount about sex – or thinks he does! Playground chat and snippets of information from the media may have informed him, and the picture he’s built up may not be a very accurate one. Use reflective listening to find out what he knows, so you can expand on it where necessary, and gently put him right on anything he’s got wrong.


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