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Parents often ask, "How do I talk to my teen about sex?" I often reply with, "If you haven't done that already, you likely won't have much luck." I know...kinda depressing, right? Nope! There's a solution and that solution is BOOKS.
Whether you're a seasoned communicator, or a Nervous Nancy, books offer the solution you need for a few reasons: (1) Books don't lead your teen down a web trail into porn; (2) Depending on the book, the information in it is better than what google can provide or even what you can provide; (3) The teen can access the information when they want in the privacy of their own bedroom.
Parents DO NOT need to be sex educators. I call parents sex socializers. I am a certified sex educator and have a doctorate degree in adolescent sexual development and even I do not have all the current information about sexual health that a teen would need today. As parents, we just provide the space to listen to our kids' social problems and then probe deeper when something seems up. As a sex socializer you can discuss YOUR sexual values around abstinence, relationship commitment, sober vs. intoxicated sex, etc. But your teen's sexual values could end up looking very different from yours.
The only sexual concept that you need to communicate is your comfort discussing bodies and sex, so they will be comfortable. But not knowing something technical (e.g. what an IUD is or what Tanner stages are)? No problem. There's a book for that.
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I know it’s a tough subject. Many parents are determined to do better than their parents did. But how do we start? When do we start? How do we tell them the truth about where babies come from without scarring them for life? The good news is that it is much easier than you think, because BOOKS. Glorious BOOKS! You don’t need to even think about how to start. You start with BOOKS. When to start? Today! Here’s the rundown on my favorite ways to approach everyone’s favorite topic with kids under 11.
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In case you’ve been living under a rock, Gillette recently released a new commercial that is largely a commentary on masculinity and modern manhood. When I first watched the short film, I felt tears well up. I felt a sense of relief. It felt like a sign of momentum for a movement that I am invested in. A year ago, I wrote an article warning the hopeful that ‘if men stay silent, this movement will end’. So I see this ad as a sign of men breaking the silence…a sign of progress.
As it goes, all social progress is met with some backlash. But backlash to this campaign? I was truly shocked. Why would anyone interpret this as an attackon manhood, men, or even masculinity? The boys are not playing with Barbies. The men are not staying home baking while their wives control them. This commercial features men being quite masculine. The men in the Gillette ad are using their power, strength, and assertiveness to call other men out who are being disrespectful or worse. It is encouraging the many men who step up instead of turn a blind eye to violence and bullying. This action takes courage, leadership, and decisiveness….all masculine qualities that we love! In academia, we call this active bystander behavior, which is one of the only factors that have been shown to reduce instances of sexual assault and harassment.
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Summer is here and if you’re like many parents, you have booked summer camps for your kids to attend, so they don’t drive you insane *COUGH*, I mean, so they have a well-balanced summer. Camp can be summed up as new kids + new adults = new social dynamic, so now’s the time to brush up on convos about bodies and boundaries.
I want to start out by saying that the majority of sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the victim knows well (1), so stranger danger doesn’t quite live up to its reputation. But next up in perpetrator probability are people who your kid knows well but you do not (2). Hence, summer camps! Now, mind you, I’m writing this post as a mom and sex educator, not necessarily as the prevention scientist and professor that I also am because (to my knowledge) there hasn’t been a ton of research on summer camps.
But really, summer camp is so fun! I went to them as a kid and send my own kid to them, so I don’t think they are dangerous spaces. But they are spaces for kids to apply their social knowledge and practice their social skills in a new environment. Consider addressing the following:
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What would you do if you found out your son was posting images of naked women whom he and his friends had sex with? Perhaps even non-consensual sex with? What would you do if you found out your daughter was at a party, and a guy undressed her unknowingly, photographed her, and posted it on the internet?
Unfortunately, this stuff happens and sometimes it is called revenge porn (1). Even though revenge porn website enthusiasts swear their motivation is nothing but an opportunity 'to look at real naked women’, in reality, the act of uploading a nude picture to punish a woman for leaving you or to boast about you %#$*ing her, is less of an act of sexual expression and more similar to the criminal behavior of stalking and harassment (2). In general, we know that at least 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual assault (3), with many women experiencing sexual assault within their first two months of stepping foot on a college campus. This means many of you reading this right now have a son who has sexually assaulted someone and 1 in 5 of you have a daughter who will experience sexual assault before she graduates from college.
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, sexual media, and social media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I do this so you can be informed about what is going on in the sex research world and apply the research to your life. I hope this process produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.
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