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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# parents panel
Parents Panel: How did you approach the 'sex talk' with your kids?
Questions, awkward moments – and even a tantrum or two.


AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. With that in mind, we’ve launched Parents Panel.

This week, we’re asking our panel all about the birds and the bees: How did you approach the ‘sex talk’ with your kids?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7

Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly.

1. He burst into tears…
I was sure I had gone about everything right, giving my sons the basic facts without bringing sex into it too much, as they are only six and three. Then a couple of months ago, my youngest said, ‘Mammy, I can’t wait to have a baby in my tummy when I’m grown up.’ I had to explain to him that only women can carry the baby – and he burst into tears as if I had ruined his little dreams!

- Suzie Kelly

2. He has a say over his own body
Our son is three, but he still deserves a say over his body. We would never make him hug or kiss an adult without first asking if he wants to. If he says ‘no,’ we don’t make a fuss.

- Olly Keegan

3. My wife seized the moment
We’ve already had the conversation with our eldest, who is ten. His school runs a sex ed talk at the end of fifth class, but when he asked some questions at home my wife seized the moment and explained everything to him. She also borrowed a book from the library so he could read and digest after the fact in case he had questions. We made it all very normal for him.

- Alan Dooley

shutterstock_525915517 Shutterstock / Tatiana Murr Shutterstock / Tatiana Murr / Tatiana Murr

4. The teacher got there first
When my daughter was ten, she asked me to buy her some sanitary products as her periods had started a while back. I was in shock, but she just shrugged her shoulders and told me it was no big deal, that her teacher had already taught the class about periods, and even how to mark a calendar to prepare for when their next one would be due. With my toddler I will hopefully be better prepared – that’s if the internet doesn’t get to her first.

- Denise Cumiskey

5. I won’t wait as long as my own mum did
I think we’ve a good few years now before we have to start planning for any ‘big’ talk, but I plan to be as open and approachable as possible. When I was 20 years old my mother shyly asked me if I knew what sex was – I don’t want to end up in the same situation with Charlie in 20 years time…

- Kait Quinn

6. She already knows a few things
So far, I have explained to my three-year-old about how a baby grows in a woman’s belly, prompted by her meeting pregnant friends of mine. As for the rest of it, I imagine I’ll approach it the way I have every other new thing that parenthood has thrown at us – I’ll read some books and ask friends who’ve gone through it before me for advice.

- Denise

shutterstock_600134030 Shutterstock / 4Max Shutterstock / 4Max / 4Max

7. We asked her what she already knew
Our eight-year-old is the eldest of four kids, so she’s long been aware of what pregnancy is, how babies are born and more biology besides. We’ll usually broach a new subject by asking her what she already knows or believes to be true – this is a good way to gauge how ready she is to process new information.

- Ross Boxshall

8. It happened far earlier than planned
We ended up having ‘the talk’ with my eldest when she was seven – much earlier than planned – after a friend showed her a very sexually explicit video on a smartphone. We didn’t get to see the clip ourselves but she described it to us as a man and a woman in bed naked, kissing and “doing other stuff”. Long story short we had a very honest discussion about what she saw and I told her that it is usually done with a view to having a baby. She handled the whole thing very well despite her age.

- Susannah O’Brien

shutterstock_611109443 Shutterstock / schankz Shutterstock / schankz / schankz

9. I plan to be upfront and honest
My son is only 16 months old so it’s not an issue currently, but I already know I’ll be upfront and honest about everything just like my own mam was with me. She never tried to pass us off with stories about cabbage patches or storks! My parents were very touchy-feely, and seeing them kissing or hugging was natural. It’s the same with me and my husband.

- Marta Lisiecka

10. We left it up to the school
My eldest son is now at the age when he has discovered girls. He might be 13, but he is nearly 6 foot tall, broad and strong and plays rugby. I think he’s figured out that these are traits that girls like – heaven help me! We don’t plan to sit down and have any form of structured talk with him or his brother, but they have both had the talks in school, and if they come to us with questions, we’ll happily answer them.

- Ken Hyland

Stay updated by following the Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter – and don’t forget to enter this week’s competition for a two-night city break at the Castleknock Hotel!

More from our Parents Panel: How do you make mornings less stressful in your house?

And even more: How do you manage to fit in quality time with your kids?

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