Dear Doctor, 

Recently, I decided it would be OK if I took a look at what our 10-year-old son had been viewing on his computer. What I saw truly astounded me. I looked up some of the websites he had been viewing. It was pornography and, when I asked him about it, he said he had first seen it at a friend’s house on a sleepover. The question I have is how to now teach him about sex. I had no idea children this age were ready to talk about it.

Shocked

Dear Shocked,

Yes, Virginia, children are curious about sex. Ten is definitely time to be teaching. Parents are great teachers once they conquer their embarrassment and understand how natural it is.

For years, when asked by parents, I recommended two books: “Where Did I Come From” and “What’s Happening to Me.” They were upbeat, definitely not preachy, and straight with information. Every child is different. A parent will have to be ready when questions are asked or the timing is right.

High-tech advances have changed both accessibility and content. The internet is awash with high-definition sex videos of all types and variety. It is a far cry from my time when sneaking a Playboy issue was high adventure. Here are some thoughts to help.

Keep the computer where the whole family may use it. Computers in children’s rooms are asking for illicit adventure. Put family blocks on websites that are objectionable.

Do not editorialize. Teach. Sex is a part of the heritage of our species, so be matter of fact.

Do keep track of what websites your children have been visiting.

Lighten up when discussing the topic or answering questions. Our children felt very much at home asking questions at the dinner table. They would also share information.

Be ready for surprises, even from a daughter. One evening, when our daughter was in high school, she announced she and a girlfriend were rating the posteriors of males in her class. They had developed a scale of 1-10. Candidly, I choked with a chuckle when I heard this: She rated her older brother as only a seven.

Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, email him at lrryllrsn@CS.com.

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