Healthy sexuality means that a person understands what thought processes and behaviors contribute to happy, healthy ideas about who we are as people. Since romantic relationships and sex are such a giant part of our lives — the plot of every movie, the hope of every teenager — it’s important that we’re seeing romantic love and sex through a healthy lens. Our kids’ future happiness depends on how they view sexuality and themselves in that context.
For example, if they view sex as the end all be all in a relationship, they may not be emotionally prepared to do the work required for the life-long friendship that is marriage.
How do kids respond to living in a home that is an open, safe place to talk about healthy sexuality?
The older my kids get, the more they appreciate it. My oldest child is 11 and going through puberty. I think he’s grateful we’ve been open in the past — now he comes to me and my husband with all the changes he is going through, and we talk about them. I’m pregnant, and my middle child who is a little shy asked, “Did you and Dad have sex to make the baby?” I was so glad he felt like he could ask me! It’s so important to me to be the first, best source of information for my kids.
Why is it vital to educate and empower our kids about healthy sexuality?
I was a victim of child sexual abuse and I’ve always wanted to do something to help parents understand how and why it can happen. The hyper-sexualization in our everyday lives is so alarming. Even in our children’s everyday lives. How many billboards and commercials and bus ads do they see every day that are sexual in nature? Not to mention the things they’re exposed to online! Parents need to be the ones to explain these things to their children. It’s more than just sex, too. Every ad and magazine cover in the grocery store is telling them they are supposed to look and act a certain way. I want kids to decide for themselves (based on what parents teach them) who they want to be and why.
Educate and Empower Kids’ 3 Tips for Raising Kids Who Understand Healthy Sexuality
1. Talk, talk, talk.
It’s okay to be transparent with your children. It’s okay to say, “I don’t have an answer for you right now, but I’ll find out. It’s important to me that you feel comfortable talking to me about relationships and sex. Know that we can talk anytime.”
One big talk won’t communicate that to your children. Short conversations in the car, at the dinner table, while on a hike — that type of layered, ongoing conversation will teach your children that you really are willing to talk about it anytime and that you want to listen. You’ll have to be the example in starting the conversations at first.
2. Get educated.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when even thinking about talking with your kids about healthy sexuality. But the more I learn about it and practice doing it, the more I realize that it’s actually easy to weave into everyday conversation because of the hyper-sexualized culture we live in.
Find ways to show your child why having these conversations is so important. Understand the positive results of children having the information they need to make good choices versus the ill effects of having misinformation or none at all. (Example: Kids go looking for it themselves, ask friends, aren’t comfortable asking trusted adults, etc.)
Understand that healthy body image, self-worth, empathy, media literacy, etc. are all contributing factors to a child’s development of healthy sexual attitudes. I like to point out misleading commercials to my kids and discuss why people in ads look the way they do. It’s always an interesting conversation and very eye-opening for kids.
3. Get comfortable saying the words.
Talking about healthy sexuality will need to include talking about things that aren’t in our everyday speech patterns — like penis, vagina, masturbation, pornography, etc. Pornography in particular can be hard, but we need to talk about it because kids will be exposed, and it’s important that you talk about it before they see it. The more you say the words, the easier it becomes. It makes them less taboo and secret and takes the power away from the words, aside from their very simple definition.
I encourage my kids to say the words over and over, helping them become comfortable with them. It can also make things light-hearted and is a good way to break the ice!
Thank you for being tuned in parents, and a special thanks to Amanda Grossman-Scott from Educate and Empower Kids for sharing with us today! We welcome your parenting and health tips, stories, recipes, quotes, comments, suggestions, and real kid quips! Follow us here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Tale of Two Sex Talks Video by Educate and Empower Kids
photos courtesy of Educate Empower Kids