Mommy, where do babies come from? Why does daddy have a penis and I don’t? Do you think I am fat? Why are Auntie’s breasts bigger than mine? Do these sentences sounds familiar? They do to many, because having children means receiving questions that you are not always prepared to answer. However, being able to openly discuss our children’s inquiries about sexuality will lead to a better relationship and understanding of their own bodies for the remainder of their lives.

There is evidence that shows that good sexuality awareness is vital for the overall well-being of young people, and can increase their ability to make positive and health-enhancing decisions. These decisions can help them to feel positive about their bodies, feel good about being male or female, appreciate and accept individual differences, understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior, as well as physical and emotional changes.

In Denmark, we are known for being very direct, honest and always speaking openly from our hearts when interacting with one another. This also carries over in the way we talk to our children about sexuality, the differences between boys and girls, how babies are made and personal boundaries. This is made possible when we, as adults, do so calmly and authentically, showing that it is the most natural part of life. By doing so, our children will adopt the same mindset and approach these complicated topics as a part of their natural development.

My children were taught in school about the “flowers and bees” already at the young age of seven because learning about sexuality also encompasses all the things that make us who we are. It was adjusted according to their age, and looking back it was such a gift, because at that age they don’t view these subjects as embarrassing and strange.

Some parents talk openly about this part of life naturally and undramatically, but there are also many of us who will end up brushing aside questions, or replying evasively when our children come to us with questions about sexuality.

Denmark may be different than many other places in regards to our communication style, and when uncomfortable topics arise it can be normal to avoid the questions altogether. Even though Danes can often seem overly open and honest, I also know of children who haven’t had any personal conversations with their parents about their bodily changes such as menstruation, contraception and protecting themselves against sexually transmitted infections.

Talking openly to our children about sexuality leads to them learning about the beauty of their own bodies, and to love every part of themselves.

– Iben Sandahl

Read more: 7 Guidelines for Talking to your Child About Sexuality

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