A single mom recently asked us how she could get on the same page as her children’s father and their stepmother when it came to talking about healthy sexual development. She wanted to introduce topics in both households so that the children had continuity in what they were learning.

A dad recently joked that his wife handled all of the talks and he wasn’t actually sure what his children were learning about sex, or if they were.

Another couple disagreed on what should be taught to children and when. They weren’t sure how to decide who was right and who was wrong.

For all of these situations (and a few others) creating an open dialogue with your co-parent(s) will make all the difference in the world. It will allow you to make sure that your child is getting consistent messages across the board and nothing is getting left out of the little talks you’re both having with him or her. Co-parenting can be challenging, but it’s important that you get on the same page.

Here are seven things to talk to your co-parent about:

01

When will the talks take place?

We are big proponents of having frequent little talks instead of one big talk. That’s important information to make sure you both understand. Make it clear that ANY time is a good time to have conversations about sex, healthy sexual development, consent, sexual abuse, etc.
02

Topics you’ll discuss.

It’s important that you talk about what will be covered with your child at what age. If you’re teaching your child the proper names for their body parts, will that start when they’re potty training or earlier? When you talk to your child about dating, will that occur when they’re 10 or closer to a teenager?
03

Phrases and wording.

Make sure that you’re using the same words and phrases as your co-parent. If at mom’s house they learn about “uncomfortable touch” but at dad’s, it’s labeled “unsafe touch,” there might be some confusion.
04

Who will address which topic?

It’s good for children to hear about healthy sexual development from all of the important adults in their life. That being said, there may be some things that you think would be better coming from your spouse. Let them know that you’d like them to take the reins on that particular discussion.
05

Values you want to address.

Depending on your political, religious, or personal beliefs, there may be certain viewpoints that you want your child to be aware of during your discussions. Make sure that you and your partner respect each other’s values and are comfortable with them being shared with your child.
06

Look at your circle of trust.

This is something that you should address together as well. Your child will trust who you trust. Are all the people with unfettered access to your child individuals that you want around him or her? Is there a person or people that you want your child to be wary around? Discuss this together before you ever bring up safety issues with your child.
07

What you don’t know.

It’s important to plan ahead for what will happen if your child asks a question for which you don’t know the answer. One way is to plan another conversation for after you’ve found the answer for them. Plan ahead so that both parents handle this situation in similar ways.

No matter the parental situation in your child’s life, there is a way for all parents to participate in the conversations about healthy sexual development. Get all the adults together, be open, and talk it through. Giving your child a consistent message is important, so try to get everyone on the same page.

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