*Dear Tamara:

What is a good age to start talking to kids about sex? I recently caught my 11-year-old son watching porn on his computer (and I assume he was doing more than watching). I walked up on him and I saw it on the screen. As soon as he heard me he hurried up and exited out of the screen but it was too late by that time. I think we both were embarrassed but I had to sit down and talk to him about what happened.

V. Taylor

Dear V:

Unfortunately in this day and age our children are overexposed to sex and sex innuendo whether it is on primetime television, in magazines, music videos and lyrics, or at the box office. And the Internet has definitely made sex more accessible. Even with the best parental controls, a slip of the keyboard can still land you on a pornographic website. With all of these factors, the age for “the sex talk” seems to get younger and younger. And the conversation had better be about more than birds and bees. Parents have to be real with their kids because if they don’t someone else definitely will.

With that being said, if your son is watching porn on the Internet, this talk is definitely overdue. Many parents avoid the sex talk because it makes them uncomfortable or they do not feel their child can handle the discussion. Others try to shelter their children from sex all together only to have a classmate or someone else initiate them. As the parent, you definitely want to be the one to shape what your child learns about sex and how your child deals with sexual issues and feelings.

For parents concerned about what information to share at what age, I encourage you to ask your child if he/she knows anything about sex and see what they say. Their answer, or lack thereof, may give you an idea where to start or to determine if it is the right time.

My 6-year-old son came home from school one day and said that another kid in his class got in trouble for writing the word “sex” on a piece of paper. I immediately asked him about the word and what it meant. He did not have a detailed answer, but the fact that he had been exposed to it and now knew it was something you could get in trouble for writing on a piece a paper was enough to have a Q&A session simply to see what he knew. I also have three daughters and I have had talks with each of them, on different levels of course, and appropriate with their ages and understanding.

Though we may not be able to protect our children from everything they hear and see, we have a responsibility to educate them and prepare them to deal with and handle the pressures of this world.

Author of the upcoming book Been There Done That: And Lived to Tell About It (due out Spring 2011), Tamara R. Allen is Your Advice Guru giving REAL advice from REAL experience. Email your questions to asktamara@tamararallen.com. You can follow Tamara on twitter @tamararallen or check out her daily column and archives at www.tamararallen.com.