No-Dread Sex Ed

As Seen on TV

You didn't mute that commercial fast enough and now your daughter doesn't just want to know what sex is, she wants to know about "safe sex" too.

Before you rush to answer, try to find out what she already knows. Based on her response, it could be time to give a brief definition of the act. Keep it factual, simple, and anatomically correct (say penis and vagina, not pee-pee or va-jay-jay). And try to weave your values into the explanation. Minister and sexuality educator Debra Haffner, author of From Diapers to Dating, suggests saying something like this: "When grown-ups love each other, one of the many ways they express it is by having sexual intercourse, which is when the man places his penis into the woman's vagina." Don't be surprised if your child's grossed out -- that's a completely normal reaction.

Though you might think her little ears are still too young to hear about the "safe" part of sex, studies show that as many as 93 percent of kids have heard about HIV/AIDS by the time they enter third grade. It's up to you to provide her with these basic facts: During sexual intercourse, couples can exchange viruses and bacteria through bodily fluids and skin-to-skin contact. These germs can cause sexually transmitted diseases. Since not all of these diseases go away with medicine, people take steps to protect themselves from germs when they have sex.

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