When is it time?
You are the parents, so you ultimately decide when it's time to have the talk with your children. However, this doesn't mean that they don't already know about sex. In fact, they could already have been given information that isn't correct. The question you must ask yourself in deciding when it's time is how important is it to you that your children have the correct information before they decide to try it?
The answer should be well before your child reaches the point where sex interest them. Schools start talking about puberty and bodily changes in elementary school. You should be prepared to have a conversation around this time. However, even then it might be too late. It's a good idea to start sooner to help them understand everything. This also gives them time to think and learn about the consequences of their actions.
So, what age should you talk to your children? You can choose to wait until you think they are ready. Talking with them sooner is better for the children. Don't be foolish. The internet, TV, and other media already fill your children's heads with sexual thoughts. Talk with them sooner to help prevent consequences for their actions.
What should you cover?
There is no need to go into detail explaining what to do or what each sexual act is. Although, if your child is asking, you should take this as a hint that they are thinking of having sex.
First, ask what they know!
By asking what they know, you can correct any misinformation they have been given. Things like: you can't get pregnant while having sex in the shower, you can't get pregnant on your period, you can't get STD's from oral, and anal/oral aren't sex.
Talk about the consequences of sex. They need to know that unprotected sex can lead to unwanted pregnancy and/or STD's. Don't use these as a scare tactic. That has been proven to be non-effective. Just inform them so they can make decisions that are best for them.
While your children will likely already know basic anatomy, you should still cover it. Talk about what happens to their body when sexual arousal happens, and what happens to the opposite sex. They need to know these feelings are natural.
Talk birth control and condoms. All the information for birth control can be found at Planned Parenthood. Let them know that options are available. Ask if your child would like to make an appointment to talk with Planned Parenthood. Hey - sometimes it's hard to tell mom and/or dad something about your body or its feelings. Having someone else to reach out to is a good idea! Of course, only if the person is well educated on the matter.
Solo is after all the only safe sex you can actually have. Everyone does it. Whether you want to think so or not. Talk about it! Let them know it's normal. Don't worry, you don't need to go into details. Just let them know they won't go blind or grow hair on their palms.
What shouldn't you say?
Don't tell your children that sex is something that should be about love and you should save it for marriage. And don't leave it at that.
This isn't going to help anything! Your child will decide what they want regardless of what your values are, even if you instilled them with your values! Just like when you were a teen, your body was ravished with hormones that make sex appealing. If they decide it's time, they need to know correct information!
Don't use STD's and pregnancy as a scare tactic
Here is a list of scare tactics. Don't use these. You want your children to remain sex positive. Therefore, don't scare them with such negatives!
You shouldn't cover things that involve what to do in the moment of sex. This is aside from saying use protection. You don't need to tell them what goes where and how to move around. If your child asks these questions, make an appointment with someone at Planned Parenthood. Let them talk about it with a health care provider. Planned Parenthood is an excellent resource for this kind of thing.
Should the school be helping?
Yes and No.
Parents: don't rely on strangers to talk to your children appropriately about such a touchy subject. Yes, talking about it is awkward to say the least. However, talking about it with your child will show them it's okay to have these feelings. And most of all, it's a bridge to a sex positive future!
If you don't want your child to feel ashamed about sex or their body, don't show you are ashamed! You are the parent and role model. They will remember how you handled the situation and this will be passed down to their children creating a sex positive future. It all starts with you not the school!