Having “The Talk” With Your Sibling
Originally Published: January 8, 2014
Revised: January 8, 2014
When I was five years old and my mother was pregnant with my younger sister, I thought, How did that happen? I asked my mom where the baby would come out, and she told me that the baby comes out of the belly button. At the time it made sense to my five-year-old brain, but as I got older and thought logically about it, it didn’t make sense. I thought, The belly button is way too small compared to the size of a baby’s head, so how does it work?
Growing up, my parents never really talked to me about sexuality, so I didn’t know how people have sex, what birth control or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were or what sexual orientation was. My idea of sex was based on what I saw on TV—usually a couple on screen would start to kiss, go off into a dark room and get into bed. I got the feeling that my parents didn’t want to talk about sex because they would change the channel when sex came up on TV. This just made me want to know more about what actually happened behind the bedroom door. Eventually, I did learn about sex at school and from friends. But some of what I learned was filled with what I know now to be misinformation.
I never really imagined having to talk to my sister about her body or sex. But since my parents haven’t and probably aren’t going to, I decided to talk to my sister.
Now, I see my sister, who is 12, going through what I went through. She’s going through puberty but doesn’t know certain things that should be considered basic sexual health information.
One day recently, she came up to me and asked, “What does it feel like to have your period?” I was caught off guard and stammered, “I don’t know. Don’t you have homework to do?” But, she wouldn’t let it go. “Does the blood ever stay inside of you?”
I was so uncomfortable with her questions. I told her to ask our mom. Of course, I knew she wouldn’t ask our mom, since we don’t talk about anything related to sexuality or sex in our house.
I never really imagined having to talk to my sister about her body or sex. But since my parents haven’t and probably aren’t going to, I decided to talk to my sister. My sister had questions—questions I didn’t answer, thinking that she would eventually learn. But then I knew, like me,she would be left to figure everything out on her own.
Talking With My Sister about Sex
So, I approached my sister, and I reminded her about the time she asked me about having a period. She nodded. I sat down with her and talked to her about her body and what happens when you have your period. I explained that blood leaves the uterus, passes through the vagina and out of the vaginal opening when a girl has her period. I also told her about pregnancy and how birth control like condoms, when used properly, can prevent pregnancy. I also told her about sexual orientation and how some people can like people of a different sex and there are some people who like people of the same sex. I explained that if she were in a relationship with someone she should understand her values and whether or not she really wants to have sex or wait until she is married. Finally, I talked about STDs and the importance of getting tested with her partner when she decides she is ready for sex.
During the talk, she said, “Oh,” a few times and, “Really?” a lot. Those two words were enough for me to know that she had had no idea about any of this before I talked to her.
The conversation was a bit awkward, but I was glad I spoke to her. And now she knows that she can come to me if she ever has questions. I’ve realized how important it is to talk and keep talking about sexuality. If your younger sibling comes to you with questions, you can step up and be that person who tells them what they need to know. It will probably make them feel a lot less confused and a lot more knowledgeable—just make sure you have all of your facts straight!
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