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How to Have ' The Talk ' and a Parenting Advice on Teaching the Birds and Bees

14 Things The Experts Want You To Know Before Talking To Your Kids About the Birds and Bees

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Come on kids; It's time we had the “TALK.”

Brought to you by HowToRaiseaMaverick.com

Congratulations!  You have courageously accepted the mission to educate your kids about sex.
Yee Haa! “This is going to be awesome!”  said no parent ever!
For most of us, this is the most dreaded parental responsibility we'll ever have to face, besides of course teaching our kids how to drive.

Now, I don't know about you, but I have watched the news (way too much) and seen things on the internet that scare the bejeebers out of me (slight understatement). In fact, just Googling the word ‘sex' sent me down a very scary rabbit hole. Now I'm no prude, (or at least I didn't think I was) but the things I saw from my quick three letter search left my brain spinning. Not only from what was going on but how violent it was. The insult to injury was how easy it was to find it. That's when I realized the days of the “sex talk” are long gone. So now, what do we do?
Of course being the nerd that I am, I found the top sex educators in the U.S and Canada and asked them to give me one (or two) of the top things they wanted parents to know before talking to their kids about sex.

What they sent back was way above and beyond what I expected. I'm not going to lie; there are a few topics that surprised me, and the thought of actually talking about it with my kid felt …. alien.

Hence the 50's space theme. So use the cute little space icons as a reminder to stay light-hearted and open-minded while reading this. As Indra Lucero said: “I think parents should know that kids learn about sex mostly from their peers, so by talking to their kids about sex, they’re helping to educate other kids too.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please know that just by creating an open conversation about sex in your home, you are changing the way your kids made desitions in regards to relationships and sexuality.

Happy Parenting,

E. K. Gaudreau

 

Legal Disclaimer
This book presents a wide range of opinion about a variety of topics in relation to sex education and wellbeing. These opinions reflect the research and ideas of the author or those whose ideas the author presents, but are not intended to substitute the services of a trained mental health care practitioner. The author and the publisher disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from information in this book.

Emily's Disclaimer 

As always listen to your gut when deciding what is right for your family. You may disagree with some of the topics in this book and that's fine. I hope that it will at least help you start a discussion that is in line with the values of your home.

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Let your child define “hooking up”

Rosalind Wiseman

 

It’s understandable that you might want a clear, unchanging standard definition of what the term “hooking up” implies. Is it sex? Making out? Young people define hooking up in different ways.

Don't obsess over exactly what “hooking up” is, instead, ask your child how they define it and that is how you start an open conversation. Listening without judgment is a critical component to having constructive conversations about hooking up.  Most important thing that a parent has to get across to your child, is that no matter how you define what you are doing, you learn from these experiences and they matter. Your child has no obligation to tell anyone what they did; they are in charge of their own story.  

Rosalind Wiseman is the Founder of Cultures of Dignity and the author of the New York Times’ bestsellers, Queen Bees & Wannabes, which was turned into the movie Mean Girls and Masterminds & Wingmen. She is also the author of The Guide (which is being developed into a movie with the help of a teen advisory board), and the young adult novel, Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials. In the fall of 2016, she published the Owning Up Curriculum, a social emotional learning curriculum that she wrote in collaboration with middle and high school students. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter  read her blog and buy her books.


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Help your child understand sexual arousal

Dr. Rosenzweig

Too many kids mistake the reflexive, autonomic reactions of their genitals for a true emotional response to someone. This is even more significant for girls, whose physical sexual response (genital lubrication, warm feelings in the groin) is much less obvious than an erection is for boys.   

Help kids understand the autonomic response, using an analogy to getting goosebumps when cold, and remind them that this response comes from the part of the brain that responds to instincts, like hunger,  not the part of their brain where smart decisions are made.  

Predators often use child’s autonomic arousal as a tool to entice them into sex or to convince them they were not a victim because of their body’s involuntary response.

Dr. Rosenzweig earned certification as a sex educator while completing a Master’s degree in Health Education and was quickly recruited to work on one of the first child sexual abuse programs in the country in 1978.  Rosenzweig earned her Ph.D. and MPA while raising a son and serving in the public and nonprofit sectors focusing on services to children and families.  She is currently the Executive Director of The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and a Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania.

Rosenzweig drew on her experiences as a sex educator working with child abuse prevention to write The Sex-Wise Parent: The Parent's Guide Protecting Your Child, Strengthening Your Family, and Talking to Kids about Sex, Abuse, and Bullying, (Skyhorse Publishing, 2012).   

She has been presenting workshops to parent and professional groups nationally promoting the idea that parents must be the primary sex educators of their children, learning how to support their overall sexual health and safety in the home, school, and community.

Connect with her on Facebook, and Twitter  or visit her website and buy her books The Sex-Wise Parent (2012, hardcover) and The Parents' Guide to Talking About Sex (2015, paperback) To have Dr. Rosenzweig speak to your group contact her here.


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“Gender” doesn't mean what you think it means

Sam Killermann

Most teens see gender as existing on a spectrum, not fitting nicely into one of two boxes. And about 3 in 4 say gender doesn't define a person as much as it used to. When it comes to sexual attraction, just under half are “completely heterosexual.” Whether your teen is in these majorities or not, there's a good chance that “gender,” and everything you associate with it, means something different to your teen than it does to you. Your instinct may be to push back but instead lean in. Learn from your teen about gender. Odds are they have something to say that will make your life at least a little better. Their perspectives are healthy, cognitively complex, robust ways of viewing something many of us have over-simplified — to all of our detriment.

Your instinct may be to push back but instead lean in. Learn from your teen about gender. Odds are they have something to say that will make your life at least a little better. Their perspectives are healthy, cognitively complex, robust ways of viewing something many of us have over-simplified — to all of our detriment.

Sam Killermann is a multi-disciplinary artist who puts his gifts to work to achieve global justice as the Director of Creativity for hues. He also created It’s Pronounced Metrosexual, the comedy show which has educated millions of on themes of social justice, gender, and sexuality. His version of the

His version of the Genderbread Person, a model for understanding and teaching gender and sexual diversity, has been translated into over a dozen languages. In 2014, Sam designed an all-gender restroom sign that he gifted to the commons, which is now being implemented on three continents, is featured in the White House and is becoming the standard for dozens of communities around the U.S. and the world. Sam is the author of A Guide to Gender, which is an exploration of gender from a social justice perspective, with humor and comics sprinkled in.

He gave a well-received TEDxTalk that has over 200,000 views called “Understanding the Complexities of Gender,” where he distilled the themes of the book into a few minutes of fun, energetic, and easily-digestible speech.

Sam is also the co-creator of TheSafeZoneProject.com, a free online resource for LGBTQ and Ally training materials. The open source curriculum they published is being used by over ten thousand educators in at least 100 countries. Outside of his key initiatives, Sam is a frequent keynote speaker, serves on the Board of Directors for Healthy Teen Network, is the comedy half of S.E.X., the head elf at Socially Just Cards, and is always dreaming up new social good projects.

When he’s not on the road, he likes to spend at least a few hours a day bicycling around sunny Austin, TX, where he counts himself lucky to live.


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Talking About Sex With Your Teen: Taking a Page from the Dutch Parenting Book

 Abry Deshong

“Why buy the cow, if you can get the milk for free.” This was practically the only sex advice my father gave me growing up. It wasn’t until my mid 20's when I studied Adolescent sexual development in the Netherlands did I truly get that my parent’s unwillingness to talk about sex without shame it was part of a larger cultural norm in the US. In contrast, open, matter-of-fact talks about sex are a standard for Dutch parents to have with their teens.

Interesting, about half of American and Dutch teens report having their sexual debut before they graduate high school.  In other words, regardless of cultural norms about teen sexuality, the chances of a child having sexual intercourse while still living under their parent’s roof is similar. Where there is a difference between these two countries, is in their respective rates of teens use of contraceptives, teen pregnancy, abortions, and STI transmission.

Can you guess which country’s youth are at greater risk? That’s right, the USA. Can we learn from the Dutch to find a more balanced approach to our children’s sexual health?  Here are a few parenting characteristics that do promote sexually healthy teens.

Parenting of Sexually Healthy Teens

  1. Demonstrate value, respect, acceptance, and trust in their adolescent children.   
  2. Model sexually healthy attitudes in their own relationships.    
  3. Maintain a non-punitive stance toward sexuality.    
  4. Are knowledgeable about sexuality.
  5. Discuss sexuality with their children.    
  6. Provide information on sexuality to their children.    
  7. Seek appropriate guidance and information as needed.    
  8. Try to understand their son's or daughter's point of view.    
  9. Help their daughter or son gain an understanding of their values.   
  10. Set and maintain limits for dating and other activities outside of school.    
  11. Stay actively involved in their son's or daughter's life.    
  12. Ask questions about friends and romantic partners.
  13. Provide a supportive and safe environment for their children.    
  14. Offer to assist adolescents in accessing health care services.   
  15. Help their daughter or son plan for their future.

From Sexual Health for America's Adolescents, SIECUS, New York, NY, 1995. https://ccoso.org/sites/default/files/import/Adolescent-sexual-health.pdf

Abry Deshong is a social scientist and founder of Maia Whistle, a company that designs functional jewelry to raise awareness for ending sexual assault. Connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Instagram.


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Be open about sex as a pleasurable experience

Grace Wampold, age 17

It is important to tell your kids that sex and sexual urges are a good thing and a completely natural part of being human. If you are honest with us about sex (beyond the reproductive side) about sex being something that is comforting, connecting, and empowering, then conversations about sex will feel a lot easier.

Living in a world full of conflicting media about what it means to be sexual, it can take a lot of pressure off of us if you acknowledge that sex is meant to be pleasurable and we should never feel pressured to have sex or shamed into abstaining. The only obligation we should have is to be safe, healthy, happy and fulfilled. Openly and honestly talking about sex with your kids shows them that as a parent you are here to support them. Then when the time comes, you can talk with us and be assured that we are engaging in fulfilling and safe sex.

–Grace Wampold, 17, Sex, Etc. Teen Staff Writer

Grace, 17, radiates positivity, understanding, and warmth, which makes her so easy to talk to. She describes herself as “quirky, a little awkward, initially introverted, composed, energetic and sometimes losing my mind.” Grace joined the Sex, Etc. Staff with the hopes of writing articles on intersectionality, meaning the connections between “social categorizations such as race, class and gender” and sexual health.

Aside from her writing, she focuses on living a self-sustaining life where she is always aware of the ethical repercussions of her actions, which is why Grace doesn’t buy new clothes and only wears used garments. She aspires to get a degree in zoology and eventually build her very own house on the West Coast. A lover of alternative music, she listens to bands such as The Moldy Peaches and artists like Kimya Dawson and Kendrick Lamar.


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Take advantage of “teachable moments”

Dan Rice, M.Ed.

“Teachable moments” are all around us–a television show or movie that your family watches together; a song on the radio in the car; a story in the news or an advertisement in a magazine or on a billboard. Each of these moments can create an opportunity to discuss topics related to sexuality.

A parent or trusted adult can use these opportunities to ask a child what they think about the situation, or if they know anyone who has been involved in a situation like the one presented. This creates an opening to then share your family's values in a way that promotes future conversations and makes talking about these topics the norm, rather than a one-time (potentially awkward) experience.

The more we use these opportunities to normalize discussion around sexuality – the easier it becomes for both parent and child to engage in life-long conversations instead of the long-established, but often ineffective, model of having “the talk.”

–Dan Rice, M.Ed., Director of Training Answer and Advisor to AMAZE

 Sexetc.org, AMAZE.org  (Amaze on YouTube) and Answer.rutgers.edu

 


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Talk to your child about body boundaries

Ralston House

You and your children should discuss boundaries that are appropriate for them to have concerning their bodies, including who is allowed to touch them. Their bodies belong to them and only they can give permission for someone to touch them. This includes hugging by a relative or more intimate touching by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Teach them that past permission does not obligate them to give permission for any future activity, that no adult or older teen should touch them in a sexual manner, and if someone is violating them in such a way, they need to feel confident to tell the person who is violating their body to stop. If that someone, no matter who it is, is not respecting their boundaries, they need to keep saying no and then tell another trusted adult, maybe that is you, and keep telling you or another adult until someone understands that boundaries are being violated and action needs to be taken.

It is never ok for someone to coerce your child or trick them into violating their body boundaries. For more information on how to protect kids, please contact Ralston House about how to prevent sex abuse.

Ralston House is a nonprofit child advocacy center that works with law enforcement, human services and the district attorney’s office to investigate and help prevent child abuse. They are experts in child abuse, with a mission to stop the abuse and start the healing. They have three centers in Colorado – Arvada, Lakewood and Northglenn. For more information about Ralston House, visit www.ralstonhouse.net.


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Talk with your child about sex and don’t leave “sex education” to the Internet

Ralston House

Talk with your child about sex – not only the physical act but also the emotional and spiritual components of sex and intimacy. If you are not providing the information they are curious about, they will turn to the Internet, where the images and messages they will find are ones that no parent wants their child exposed to.

If they search for “sex” they are going to find inappropriate images and views of what sex is, what is normal and what is not, and curiosity will quickly lead them and their friends to graphic websites that pop up. Be available to answer questions. If you feel too embarrassed or believe you cannot have an honest and open discussion with your child, then give him a good alternative source of information – either another adult such as a trusted physician, or one of the books available on the subject.

Ralston House is a nonprofit child advocacy center that works with law enforcement, human services and the district attorney’s office to investigate and help prevent child abuse. They are experts in child abuse, with a mission to stop the abuse and start the healing. They have three centers in Colorado – Arvada, Lakewood and Northglenn. For more information about Ralston House, visit www.ralstonhouse.net.


 

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Five-years-old is the best age to start the sexuality talks.

Amy Lang

Yep, you read that right. Five. Years. Old. Sounds young, I know, but here’s why:

1) No “Ew gross!” factor. They are curious and open at this age and don’t know that there is anything yucky, bad embarrassing or shameful about sexuality or bodies.

2) They go to school and are exposed to all kinds of kids who have all kinds of information that may not be true and is most likely not based on your values. They will think they know what sex is because their friend told them it’s when you “kiss with tongues.” It’s not.

3) They see you as the expert about everything else at this age so sexuality should be on this list.

4) You can establish these conversations as part of your family life and values early on so they get used to it. They may not like it, but that shouldn’t matter.

5) They are safer from sexual abuse. Children who know about sex, body parts, boundaries and sexual values are safer from sexual abuse. One thing most people who were sexually abused as children have in common is that they didn’t have any safe adults talking to them openly about this important part of life.


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Romantic Love versus Family Love – How to Talk to Your Teen About the Difference.

Amy Lang

Love can be very confusing and it’s helpful for your teen to have some understanding of the different types of love. They need to know that family love is unconditional while romantic love is passionate and sexual and that, in long-term relationships, love becomes a combination of the two.  Here’s how to help your teen sort out feelings of romantic love so they can have healthy relationships.

pink-starFamily Love

Share with your teen that family love is unconditional, long lasting and encouraging. You may be in a family that does not fit the ideal, but the love your teen feels for family and friends should be a positive experience. Discuss with your teen that having some turbulent times is a normal part of adolescence, separating from their parents, and learning how to be an independent adult.

white-starRomantic Love

Ask your teen how they would describe romantic love.  It is usually passionate, sexual, conditional, unplanned, fleeting, and unpredictable.  Romantic love has a lot to do with chemicals and hormones.  Our bodies want us to find people that complement our genes. At the same time, sexual desire can fool your teen into thinking they are in love.

With Amy Lang’s support, parents discover talking to kids about “it” doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. Her engaging, humorous and inspiring style shows parents how to turn conversations they dread into something they look forward to and embrace whole-heartedly. Amy helps parents of all beliefs have easy, open and effective conversations about sex with their kids and she is the author of Birds & Bees & YOUR Kids – A Guide To Sharing Your Beliefs About Sexuality, Love and Relationships and Dating Smarts – What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date Relate or Wait! Amy has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post Live, and on Babble.com. Learn more at www.birdsandbeesandkids.com


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I think parents should know that kids learn about sex mostly from their peers, so by talking to their kids about sex they're helping to educate other kids too.

Indra Lusero

At every age, your kids are likely to encounter a peer who is talking about sex. If your kids are in the dark, that peer will become the expert. Instead, arm your kids with good information so that they can improve the whole ecology. There are great resources for kids of every age if you need to build your confidence before talking to your kids refer to things like the Unitarian Universalist Sex Ed Curriculum “Owl,” and there are some great sites and books for teens that parents themselves can learn a lot from.

But at the end of the day, sex is cultural, you will transmit a culture of sex to your kids no matter what you do. Use language that works for you. Use an approach that feels right. Trust yourself, but also be aware of your own biases and misinformation. Educate yourself, and keep educating yourself even if you think you know enough already. Soon enough your kids will know more than you think, and may know more than you!

Indra Lusero is a reproductive justice attorney and entrepreneur and proud to have been named “All Around Reproductive Justice Champion” in 2013 by the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights. Indra has been a teacher, performance artist, doula, wallpaper hanger, a non-profit leader, and more. Indra has a profound belief in people and is at their best when asked a question no one has asked, trying a technique no one has tried, feeling an experience few have felt, and leading folks into undiscovered territory.

Indra is also the founder and director of Elephant Circle. A non-profit that brings the strength of advocacy, scientific inquiry, information, and education to issues of birth and reproductive justice, protecting mothers, their children, families, and health providers.


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How do I speak with my children about touching their own genitals?

Feather Berkower

Like any other conversation with children, talk about touching genitals candidly, accurately, and perhaps most importantly, without shame. Your child will present you with ample teachable moments to introduce and reinforce body-safety concepts alongside your values, and it really is possible to answer kid's questions in an age-appropriate way.

Consider this common situation: Your child has her hands in her pants. It could be in public, when relatives are visiting, or while playing with other children, but here's what a response might look like:

“It's okay to touch your vulva/vagina, but that's something you do when you're by yourself. Your vulva and vagina are private parts of your body, so you touch them when you have privacy.” And then you would redirect your child's attention to something else.

It's even okay to acknowledge pleasure. Consider this exchange between a Dad and his 4-year-old son:

“Dad, look It's so big and purple!”

“Yes, that's because when you touch your penis it feels good.”

Fast forward to fifth or sixth grade, and now age-appropriate discussions might include nocturnal emissions and an explanation that an orgasm is a pleasurable feeling that comes from your penis being touched — and that it's normal and okay. Remind your child that he can touch his own penis but others cannot until he gives consent as an older teen or adult.

I know talking about masturbation may be uncomfortable, but just like you nurture your child's emotional, spiritual, and physical development, it's important to nurture your child's sexual development. Why? Sexual offenders look for children who are uninformed about sex so the offender can teach the child. The more you're available to your child with information about sex and sexuality, the more likely your children will go to you for information, and the less vulnerable your child is to sexual abuse.


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 If I teach my kids about sex in primary school, isn't it going to make them curious to try sex?

Feather Berkower

Contrary to popular belief, talking to kids about sex does not make them go out and have sex. Not talking about sex and sexuality, however, does contribute to misinformation, confusion, shame, and body image issues. And most pertinent to this discussion, talking with children about sex and sexuality, in an age-appropriate way, empowers children and teens around body safety. It lets them know that no topic is off limits, which makes kids more likely to speak with you about both safe and unsafe situations.

You can certainly reinforce your values while having conversations about sex. For instance, “I'm really glad we can talk about sexuality because I don't want you to be confused or get misinformation from other kids. In our family we really value…”

 

Feather Berkower has been a leader in child sexual abuse prevention since 1985. Using a community-based approach, she has trained over 100,000 school children, parents, and professionals. Her highly regarded workshop, Parenting Safe Children, empowers adults to keep children safe from sexual abuse. She presents in schools, youth organizations, parenting groups, places of faith, and businesses. Feather makes a difficult topic less scary and consistently impresses audiences with her knowledge, commitment, and warmth.

Parenting Safe Children helped to inspire Off Limits, a parenting book that will change the way you think about keeping kids safe. Off Limits presents easy-to-follow guidelines for making children, homes, and communities off limits to child sexual abuse.

For more information visit parentingsafechildren.com.


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We can’t talk with our kids about sex without talking about who we are.

Cory Silverberg

We tend to think of sex education and “sex talks” as being separate from other kinds of conversations we have with our kids.  But sexuality and gender are about who we are. They connect to all of who we are: our cultural and ethnic backgrounds, our race, our age, our gender, our community, our faith, and as adults our own experiences with consensual and coercive sex.

If we only talk with our kids about the bio-medical aspects of sex, reproduction, and sexually transmitted diseases, we are missing most of what they need.   First and foremost we experience and live sexuality and gender socially.  Ground all your conversations in meaningful and appropriate examples from your children’s lives, your family, and your community.  Think about sexuality and gender broadly, and make it a real and meaningful part of the way your children think about who they are in the world.

Cory Silverberg is an award-winning sex educator and author of What Makes a Baby, and Sex Is a Funny Word, both illustrated by Fiona Smyth.  Their third book will be released in 2018.  For more information about Cory and his writing visit www.corysilverberg.com and www.facebook.com/whatmakesababy.


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Well, that's a wrap, folks. We hope you learned a thing or two or were at least given a little bit more confidence to start talking with your kids in an honest, open-minded and casual way.

Great big “Thank you”  to all of our experts. Many of which have selflessly made it their life's work to promote sex education but also to heal and protect the victim's of child sexual abuse. If you suspect that your child or someone you know may be the victim of abuse, please call the Child Abuse Hotline:     1-844-CO-4-KIDS

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