Moms in Babeland

Q: How should I handle my niece’s sex questions and my sister’s need (or right) to know?

Amy Lang, MA answers the Moms in Babeland’s questions about talking to kids about sex. She appears as part of our celebration of National Family Sex Education Month.

Q: My niece has come to me with sex and puberty questions and I have been hesitant to answer without inquiring about the parent’s comfort level. Do I answer and we keep it our little secret or do I approach the parent and potentially lose my niece’s trust?

Amy: Every kid needs at least one trustworthy adult, other than their parent, to confide in about life! Congratulations, you’ve been chosen. One of the tips I give parents over and over is to make sure their kids know who their trustworthy adults are, so the kids have someone to talk to if they need help in some way.

Parents aren’t always the first person a child confides in because of our tendency to freak out, judge, and any number of off-putting behaviors. Kids often need to “test the water” with someone else, so they can gauge reactions before they talk to their parents.

In your case, I would suggest that you have an agreement with your niece that your conversations are private, but if you believe her health or safety is at risk, and then the two of you together will talk to her parents.  You can talk about what this means so you are on the same page.

Then, I would tell your sibling that their child has been confiding in you and asking for information and advice. I would then say that you wanted to let them know and that you have the above agreement with her. Then suggest that they get her some books on the topic – there are tons on my site, Birds + Bees + Kids.

If your values are vastly different from her parents, this might be trickier. My firm belief (and I may get some flack from this) is the child’s sexual health is as important has her regular old physical health. If her parents would “kill her” if they found out she was having sex, and she’s come to you for help getting birth control, or emergency contraception or she thinks she has an STD, get her what she needs.

The long term benefit to modeling openness and taking charge of her sexual health will serve her through out her life.

Have an anecdote or a comment about talking to your kids about sex? You can win prizes by posting comments on Moms in Babeland during October. Details.

Amy Lang, MA Guest Blogger
A sexual health educator for over 20 years, Amy Lang teaches parents and other folks how to talk to kids of any age about the birds and the bees. She is the author of the Mom’s Choice Award®  winning Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids – A Guide to Sharing Your Beliefs About Sexuality, Love, and Relationships and The Ask ANYTHING Journal. She created the lively and engaging video Birds + Bees + Kids: The Basics so parents can learn how to talk to their kids about sex and values without leaving the couch! Sign up for her newsletter and teleclasses at

Related posts:

  1. Q: What should I do when my 12-year-old asks me invasive questions about my sex life?
  2. Q: When (if ever) should I show my child a photograph of an aroused adult, or of adults having sex?
  3. Q: I don’t want to make heterosexual intercourse the definition of “sex.” To me oral, anal, hand jobs, same gender sex: it’s all equally part of the deal. So how do I present it that way?
  4. Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids with Amy Lang, MA
  5. Q: Both my girls get all grossed out when I try to use sex terms. How can I help them get more comfortable with the subject?

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