Dr Justin Coulson is one of Australia's leading parenting experts and is a highly sought-after international speaker and author. He and his wife Kylie are the parents of six daughters. Yes... six. And yes, they're all from the one family, and no, they aren't disappointed, nor are they going to try for a boy.

I've never had one of those conversations about pornography - or even sex - with my child.
How do I bring it up and talk about it?

Most parents or caregivers have to have the ‘sex’ or ‘porn’ talk for the first time at some point. If you are thinking about it, you’re most of the way there. Just don’t leave it too late.

While it can be awkward at first, once you get started it does get easier. If you can be brave for the first ten or twenty seconds, the rest will typically take care of itself.

The best thing to do is to go somewhere together where you feel safe and you can talk uninterrupted. Perhaps you can chat while you walk the dog or grab an ice-cream together. Then start the conversation.

Here are some simple starters:
  • I don’t really know what to say, but we have to have a talk about sex and pornography.
  • I read an article today that said kids are seeing pornography at really young ages. Have you heard of pornography? Do you know what it is? Are the kids at school seeing it or talking about it? Have you seen it?
  • A few days ago you mentioned that you knew how the baby got inside your auntie’s tummy. I thought we could talk about that some more. How do you think that the baby got there? Where did you find out that?

What if I really can’t have the talk

There will be some parents and carers who simply cannot have a conversation about sex or pornography with a child in their care. Perhaps due to sexual assault or other trauma, having a conversation about sex and pornography is simply too hard.

A parent or carer may refuse to talk about sex because it is a trigger and causes too much pain personally. Or it may be that they want to give their child a positive view of sex and sexuality and fear that their negative view of sex will taint something that they want to be great for their kids. In these cases, try the following:
  1. Pay a professional.
  2. Get a book–there are lots of suitable books for children of different ages.
  3. Find something appropriate and educational on youtube (that's not pornographic).
  4. Purchase an educational, and age-appropriate, DVD for your child to watch.
  5. Find a friend, auntie, uncle, teacher, coach, church leader or other trusted adult.
  6. Talk to the school counsellor or to Kids Helpline.

Does that mean I don’t have to say anything?

If you are not going to have 'the talk' with your child, be honest about why. Help your child know that you want things to be better for him or her, and that you want the right information passed on.

Be open to any conversation

Once the 'education' part is done the first time, you want to have a relationship where your child knows they can talk to you or the person you had them speak with. If they want information, you want them to know that they should turn to you or that person you steered them towards because they’re safe and will give them good information. This is always better than trusting the internet for answers to questions about sex or pornography.

Help your child know that any question is ok to ask, and that you want to do all you can to help them get answers to the big, tough questions, even about sex and pornography. This is true even when you might have to send them to someone else to find the answers.

The truth is that most children, especially teens, won’t be asking questions. They’ll be glad when the conversation is over. And if they ask a question you don’t know the answer to, smile and tell them the truth. Say you’re not sure. Then find the answer and use it as an opportunity to have another talk about intimacy.

If you would like to read more of Dr Justin’s advice, check out his column on Kidspot @ http://www.kidspot.com.au/health/ask-the-expert

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