Seven Ways to Have Better Conversations with Your Child About Sex (and Everything Else!)

Seven Ways to Have Better Conversations with Your Child About Sex (and Everything Else!)

A central part of More Than Sex-Ed’s mission is to support parents in providing their children with the healthiest possible messages about sexuality—and we know that even the most caring and open-minded parents can struggle with this.  The good news is, no single “talk” will make or break your teen’s self-confidence or decision-making skills; the best thing you can do is cultivate open, honest, ongoing dialogue about everything.  Sex talk, when your child is ready, will grow out of that.  Here are some tips we hope may be useful:

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The case for starting sex education in Kindergarten

"You’ll never hear an explicit reference to sex in a kindergarten class. In fact, the term for what’s being taught here is sexuality education rather than sex education."

In the Netherlands, comprehensive sex education requires all primary students to have "some form of sexuality education".  Ranging from 4 to 11 years old, the students are taught a variety of topics that include sexual preference, body awareness, intimacy and gender roles.  This sex education also seeks to educate and protect the students on the topics of sexual abuse, intimidation and other harmful practices.  

"The underlying principle is straightforward: Sexual development is a normal process that all young people experience, and they have the right to frank, trustworthy information on the subject."

The approach made by the Dutch government has produced "some of the best outcomes when it comes to teen sexual health."  According to Rutgers WPF, only 1 out of 10 Dutch adolescent do not use contraceptives the first time they have sex.  It is also important to note that the Netherlands also have one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world. 

Unlike the Netherlands, comprehensive sex education has not been implemented in the United States.  According to Guttmacher, half of the states in the union require abstinence as the main form of sex education.  This narrow focus "on minimizing the risk of pregnancy and STDs from heterosexual intercourse" translates into many millennials acknowledging that their sex education "was not helpful".  The Dutch curriculum for comprehensive sex education provides compelling evidence on the importance of having a well rounded education. It's time to seriously consider comprehensive sex education here in the states.

At More than Sex-Ed, the ability to have a frank and trustworthy discussion about sexual development is one of our core principles.  To learn more about our core principles, please check out morethansex-ed.org!  

 

What's Happening to My Body?

Here at More Than Sex-Ed, we believe that kids can learn to be responsible for their sexuality without shame. 

When a child asks "What's happening to my body?", they deserve to have their question answered accurately.  And while we know that not every kid going through puberty fits neatly into a standard binary gender box of either pink or blue, as of now, publishers have not stepped up with material that addresses the true level of diversity to include trans and intersex identities. In the meantime, More Than Sex-Ed would love to talk with your group of parents about the fantastic diversity of human sexual identity and help you find accurate language to use with your kids.

 But if you need a book right now with reliable information regarding puberty,  here is a list of book recommendations, with the caveat that you will also need to say that not all boys have penises, and not all girls have vulvas, clitorises, uteruses, and vaginas. And you should recognize that it's healthy for kids to know about puberty in bodies that are different from their own.

The bestselling series "What's Happening to My Body? : Book for Boys/Girls" by Lynda Madaras, Area Madaras, and Simon Sulivan provides a vast amount of information ranging from body hair, growth spurts, to romantic feelings.  With "detailed illustrations and real-life stories throughout, plus an introduction for parents and a helpful resource section," this book is a must have for parents.  

For parents of people with ovaries and uteruses in their household, "Period. A Girls' Guide" by JoAnn Loulan, Bonnie Worthen, Marcia Quackenbush, and Chris Wold Dyrud can help start the dialogue around menstruation.  Although this text "use diagrams to familiarize readers with the inner workings of their bodies, including what happens during menstruation", it does not discuss puberty and sexuality as thoroughly as "What's Happening to My Body".  This book is focused specifically on the topic of menstruation.  

Lastly, "The Caring and Keeping of You 2: The Body Book for Older Girls" by Cara Natterson and Josee Masse is a helpful resource book for kids ages 10 and older.  Published by American Girl, this book discusses "the physical and emotional changes" as well as peer pressure and personal care.  This book, like the other recommendations, promotes responsible education about sexuality without shame.    

For more book recommendations on puberty and sexuality, please check out the More Than Sex-Ed Blog!