This is always going to be a tricky one. Let me start by telling you what NOT to do:
1. Don't leave it too late
2. Don't make it personal.
When I was 18, and after having been at university for two terms, my mum sat me down in her room to give me "The Talk." She proceeded to tell me in graphic detail about her first time with my dad, while I tried in vain to imagine myself in a happier place, humming 'Lalalalalala' on a loop in my head.
Therapy has not helped.
She also tried to scare me by informing me that once 'it' was over there was a knock on the front door and there stood a nun as a sign from the Lord that she had committed a cardinal sin by indulging in sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Now I'm all for scaring kids into behaving, but if mum had asked me, I could have saved her the warning and the embarrassment. At 18, "The Talk" was a little too late.
I have tried to always be open and honest with my small fry, answering their questions about their bodies as they arise, and I am proud that my kids all talk to me about sex quite openly. Not quite so proud when they start asking about periods or pubic hair in restaurants. But despite some minor teething problems, openness so far seems to be working better than stories of nuns.
It's important when talking about sex to clarify the question before answering. For example, if a child asks, "Where did I come from?" check before you launch into a full explanation about 'Special Snuggles' that this is what they actually mean. I fell foul to this with Bobby. After explaining in a very lengthy, mature and sensible way about conception and birth (on the bus, I might add) she said,
"No, I mean where was I born?"
I'm a great advocate of using the correct terminology to avoid confusion. Talking about seeds and eggs to a child of four or five is enough to have them fear chickens and garden centres. Babies do not come from tummies, they come from wombs. A friend of mine who was heavily pregnant with twins took her four year old to the park. On the bench sat a lady who could only be described as huge. Her little boy, having been told that mummy had two babies in her tummy, looked curiously at the woman before asking,
"How many babies have you eaten??"
Using the correct terminology also has the added bonus of annoying teens; when they swear, you can correct them by insisting they say 'Sexual Intercourse off', or call someone a 'Masturbator'. Hours of fun.
If all else fails and your stubborn teen remains firmly on the path to promiscuity, scare the heck out of them. There is a scene in the film 'Little Shop of Horrors' where Steve Martin as the Dentist is warning a timid Rick Moranis of the dangers of a neglected mouth (see photo). Watch this scene, and apply it to the dangers of sex.
You might think this last tip is a tad extreme, but before you judge me too severely let me ask you this: Do you really want to be a Granny/Grandpa at the age of 30? No? Didn't think so. Scare away!
Today: An important warning
It is your job as a parent to teach your kids about sex. If you don't, they will leave home and you will just begin to get your life back when they will move back in with boy/girlfriends and babies, who will then grow up and trash your house whilst their mum/dad goes out on the town all night and sleeps all day, leaving you to babysit.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!