The Birds and the Bees: Rites of Passage

As the father of two girls, Sergio knows that it can be difficult to broach the topic of sex and relationships with your children. But if you discuss it from the 'respect' angle, it opens up a window of possibilities.

Having a discussion about the Birds and the Bees with your children can range from downright embarrassing to almost non-existent. But when is it important to have the conversation, what should it include (where can parents find the right information), and how can parents approach it so that it doesn't end in giggles and misinformation?

So, the 'Birds and the Bees' talk...

I've never really been asked before about how I would approach the all-important birds and the bees talk with my kids, and to be honest, I've never asked myself the question either; fortunately, my wife was in charge of that chat with our girls.

That said, I think that even though it may seem like an embarrassing topic for dads to discuss with their daughters, it doesn't have to be - there are important things that fathers can teach their girls about the birds and the bees.

Gender equality and shared responsibility

I grew up in an environment where men and women were very strong figures who respected each other as equals. There was a sense of partnership that was modelled for us kids as we grew up, teaching us that it's possible to achieve whatever you put your mind to. Both the good and bad times were shared, decisions taken together, and responsibilities were acknowledged as being part of the agreement.

Considering my upbringing, I think it's important to teach young girls (and boys) to accept and respect themselves for who they are individually, and to have high expectations for their future.

Teaching children self-respect

As a parent, it's important to help shape your child's morality and ethos during the crucial period when they're young - we should provide them with the tools to help them make the right decisions.

It's important that our kids know that, just because they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it doesn't necessarily mean that they've found the person they will be with forever.

I want my daughters to know that they deserve to be with someone who makes them feel happy and loved, and respected - that's the key - and if a boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't accept that they don't feel ready to take steps towards physical intimacy, they need to know that that's not the right person for them.

Changing attitudes towards sex

Too often, young people are carried away with feelings of romanticism and the want to please, but there needs to be a shift away from sex as a status symbol, and towards respect for the pace at which individuals develop and become ready.

I want my girls to be aware of peer pressure and how destructive it can be. We need to stress how important it is to be ourselves, not to follow the crowd - especially when it comes down to something so emotionally precious and valuable.

Consequences such as STI's and pregnancy also need to be emphasised, as it's important for young people to know what may happen if they don't take responsible precautions when they're thinking about becoming sexually active.

A new, clued-up generation

Regardless of what I can teach them, I'm pretty sure most kids these days know more about sex than my generation knew at their age, and that's partially down to sex education lessons in school.

I believe that it's both a good and a bad thing to have information so freely available because I worry that respect has been lost for one of the most important issues we ever face! However, it's only my opinion I put forward, and I expect every parent will have their own approach.