Parenting is HARD. As I’ve acknowledged in other articles I’ve written, it’s pretty much a good day if everyone is fed and still living! But some days we’re able to add a little extra to our parenting and that’s where sex positivity comes in. I truly can’t express how important it is to be a sex positive parent. It literally sets the stage for a healthy relationship with his/her/their body, as well as allowing for healthy and appropriate sexual relationships with others.
The Trouble of Avoidance
It’s no secret that the United States isn’t leading the Western World when it comes to sex education and positivity. Most of us grew up in households where sex wasn’t discussed, if anything, the topic was avoided. So it makes sense if you’re second nature would be to try and avoid the topic for as long as possible and hope your kids don’t end up with an STD or unwanted pregnancy, but that plan is far from foolproof. If you find yourself experiencing anxiety or discomfort around the thought of having open conversations with your kids about sex, take a look at my breakdown below and maybe you’ll find that it isn’t as scary as you had originally thought!
Kids are beautifully curious. They have a million questions about everything and sex is no different. If anything, they may be even more curious about sex because they are constantly being bombarded by both explicit and implicit messages. Make sure not to shut them down. If they have a question or a thought about something they’ve seen or heard about, listen. These open doors don’t happen all the time. They are literally the PERFECT opportunity to learn about what is floating around in your kid’s head and how they are processing said information. So zip it and truly hear what your child is trying to tell you!
Similar to listening, it’s really important not to shame. Shaming might look like implying or outright saying that your child is bad or weird for asking a specific question. The more you shame your child (around ANYTHING) the less likely they are to reach out to you for guidance, especially something as personal as sex. So instead of making it seem like the question shouldn’t be asked, respond with rhetorical questions like, “What makes you ask that?” Or “Wow, that’s a really interesting question, I’m glad you asked me!”
When it comes to sex positivity, being honest is really important. For example, the stork answer should not be a thing, so don’t use it to describe where babies come from… and no, not everyone who has sex is “in love,” so saying that people who have sex should plan to stay together forever is just ridiculous. Instead, it would be more honest and accurate to explain that sometimes people find themselves attracted to someone else (i.e. thinking their cute and wanting to be close to them). When they are ready and have had a conversation about what being close will look like, they may make the decision TOGETHER to safely become intimate See, you don’t even need to get explicit!
The last recommendation can be a little tricky, especially if you feel like you haven’t been given much sex education yourself, but it really pulls all four recommendations together. Remember: we can’t and shouldn’t depend on the school system to provide this information to our kids because often times it’s too censored or breezed over. To be more helpful (and less confusing) I’ve broken this recommendation down further, because it’s so important!
Anatomically Correct Words: When your child becomes old enough for you to start naming their body parts, don’t tell them that they have an elbow and then turn around and say they have a “wee-wee” instead of a penis or a “tulip” instead of a vulva. It just doesn’t make sense. Our genitalia is just as important as any other body part and we don’t usually give them odd, cartoony names, right? Plus, I always explain to the parent’s of my child patients that if your child were to be touched inappropriately, it’s REALLY important that they are able to accurately name the place in which they were touched. This would help you, other important adults and the police to understand what’s going on.
Safety: When we avoid talking to our children about sex, we are simultaneously avoiding discussing safety and protection. Safety can look like a person’s right to say no, as well as their understanding of consent and physical boundaries. Furthermore, protection can look like how to use a condom and what can cause pregnancy and the transmission of STD’s. We can’t blame our children for certain consequences to behaviors if they had no guidance or education to begin with, right? Right.
Sexual Freedom & Pleasure: Our adolescents are experimenting with sex because it feels good and it’s exciting. The more we keep sex from our teens, the more they want to do it and the harder they will try (remember those days?). This doesn’t mean that we have to agree with the fact that our kids are having sex, but it also doesn’t mean that they need to be punished or ridiculed for it. Make sure they are safe, the sex is consensual and they’re being thoughtful and respectful of their partner’s needs, as well.
Need some additional resources when it comes to talking to your kids? I’ve got you covered!
- It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health
- It’s So Amazing!: A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families
- It’s Not The Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends
- The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens
- The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals
- It’s MY Body: A Book to Teach Young Children How to Resist Uncomfortable Touch (Children’s safety series & abuse prevention
- 30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 12+: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy (Volume 3)
Like What You Just Read? Take a Look at these Sex Bloggers:
Pretty Pink Lotus Bud: Naming Your Naughty Bits
Isabelle Lauren: The Medical Profession Continues to Fail Women