Need help talking to teens about how and why to delay sexual activity?
Need help talking to teens about how and why to delay sexual activity?
Here are some great tips for talking to children about sex and sexuality:
It's Let's Talk Month, as in "Let's Talk about Sexuality"--all you parents! Here's a cute video with what NOT to say, what TO say, and how to answer those embarrassing and unexpected questions:
by Amy Johnson, MSW
Diligent Joy Training, Coaching, Education
Spring is here, and with it comes a great opportunity to tackle the birds and the bees with your children and teens.
“Gulp!” many parents think when the topic of sex and kids comes to mind. Never fear! There are many wonderful resources to help you take this topic in bite-sized pieces.
With young children, simply using correct names for body parts is a positive step. This teaches them that genitalia are not shameful; they are simply body parts with a function, like all the other body parts. A great book to help with this is Bellybuttons are Navels by Mark Schoen. For more resources for talking about sexuality with young children, visit my website here.
If you prefer tele-classes or workshops, you can join me for “Sex Ed 101 for Parents and Caregivers” on Wednesday, May 11th, from 6-8 pm at Normandy Park UCC. The workshop is free and open to the public. Or, check out Amy Lang’s Birds+Bees+Kids, where you can sign up for her newsletter, watch a short video about talking to your kids, and sign up for information on monthly tele-classes.
Another program in the Seattle (and Palo Alto, CA) areas is Great Conversations Julie Metzger and Rob Lehman have developed signature programs that sell out quickly for moms and daughters and dads and sons about puberty.
If you have older elementary-age children, check these resources, and check with your school district about how they are covering the “facts of life” talk with preteens. Parents usually have the opportunity to view materials their children will be seeing, so check into how to do that.
Remember, even if you are thinking your child is too young, research shows it’s best for them to have information about puberty, pregnancy, STDs, and sexual decision-making before they need it.
Also remember that it’s highly likely your child will hear all kinds of things in middle school, so talking with them prior to those years can help them be prepared, and help establish you as a trusted source of information and as an “askable” parent.
An increasing number of faith communities are taking on sexuality education with youth, too. Check yours, and make sure you know what’s being taught so you can augment with your values and any information they may not have time to go over.
There, now don’t you feel better? So much help is waiting for you! Remember, it’s not “the” talk, but a series of lifelong conversations. What better time to start than right now? Take a breath, and start talking!
February is known for Valentines and groundhogs, but did you know it's also National Condom Month? With 19 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections each year in the U.S., no wonder there's a month devoted to condoms-which are one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of diseases during sexual activity. If you're an adult in the dating scene, be aware that 25%+ of people don't know they have at STI. One of the fastest growing newly infected HIV groups is women, ages 39-60. Use a condom every time.
Parents, it's important to know that one in four teens ages 15-19 has a sexually transmitted infection. If only the sexually active youth are counted, the statistic rises to one in two. There is much misinformation out there regarding condom use, so be an askable parent. Be a trustworthy source of information for your teen. Make sure he or she knows the truth, whether or not he or she is sexually active. Chances are, your child knows someone who is. Make sure they know:
- Keep them stored at room temperature. That means not keeping them in your car glove compartment. If the condom gets too hot or too cold, the latex can deteriorate-think of an old rubber band. They become easier to break, which is not what you want in a condom.
Use latex condoms, or if you're allergic to latex, polyurethane. Steer clear of sheep-skin condoms, which may protect against pregnancy, but will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
Socially conscious? Check out the new company Love Begins with L, which distributes a condom to a developing country for every one you purchase in an effort to empower women globally by supporting the right to safer sex.
In February and every other month, remember, if you are sexually active, use a condom every time.
For more information about any of these techniques, contact me for a free consultation to see if parent coaching is a fit for you!
By Amy Johnson, MSW
Each year, December 1 is World AIDS Day, which is publicized in order to increase awareness about this topic. Even though there have been many advances in information about HIV and AIDS, and in treatment of people who are HIV-positive, there is no cure, and the rates of infection are still staggering.
On a recent trip, I saw a bulletin board in an airport proclaiming that every nine and a half minutes, someone in the United States is infected with HIV . In addition, one in five people who are living with HIV in our country do not know they have it. That means they can unknowingly pass it on during subsequent sexual contact. One in four of those affected by HIV are women, and African American women are most vulnerable.
Why should parents care about this? First of all, the chances of you or your child knowing someone who is HIV positive are high. The HIV-positive person may not have shared that information with you, but with over 1,000,000 people in our country living with HIV and over a million more living with AIDS, the chances are, somewhere in your circle, someone is affected.
Also the statistics take a dramatic turn for youth. Every hour, two young people are infected with HIV, and of those 80% do not know they are HIV-positive. Your teens need to know that if they become sexually active, there is no way to look at someone and know if they are HIV-positive. And if your partner has had previous sexual partners, even if you haven’t, they may be infected and unaware. The only sure way to know is to get tested.
In the “Get the Facts” section of the 9 ½ minute website, they suggest: Focus on Awareness, Focus on Abstinence, Focus on Monogamy, Focus on Condoms and Focus on Drug Use. All of these topics are conversations you can have with your children and teens, conversations where you can discuss your values, listen to your children’s thoughts, answer their questions, and become more informed and connected as a family.
This week, make a pledge to have a discussion with your children and teens about World AIDS Day. Here are some discussion starters:
If you do not know the answers to any of the above questions, make sure you find out and are clear on your values before discussing them with our child. Asking questions is a great way to find out what they do and don’t know, as well as what they think they know that may be incorrect. Taking time to talk with your family members about this topic is one way to make a positive difference in the world.
Amy Johnson, MSW, is a Coach, Educator, and Trainer in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of the book, “Parenting by Strengths: A Parent’s Guide for Challenging Situations.” Amy facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area and online. She specializes in working with parents and also in sexuality education.
By Amy Johnson, MSW
Parenting Coach and Educator
October is National Family Sexuality Education Month: the topic that makes many parents turn red and run the other way. Research clearly shows parents are the ones with whom children and teens most want to discuss this topic, so here are some age-by-age tips for you to get started:
Infancy: Keep your child safe by making sure any adults or teens that care for him or her are trusted and reliable.
Toddlerhood: As your child begins to learn the names for body parts, include anatomically accurate language for genitalia. Use the words penis, vulva, testicles, and anus. If you say them nonchalantly, you are teaching your child these are natural parts of his or her body that he or she does not need to be ashamed of.
Preschool: Continue with anatomically correct language. Many parents confront “Where to babies come from?” at this age. Answer with simple answers (“from a mommy and a daddy”) and gauge if this has satisfied your child’s curiosity. If not, and they ask another question, you can continue to answer. Strive not to over-answer or give too many details, while still being honest and giving facts. For books that can help, check out: http://astore.amazon.com/dilijoy-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=4
Elementary School: This is a time to gradually give more information and continue answering questions, as well as asking some as they reach older elementary grades (Ex: Have you heard the term “That’s so gay”? Do you know what that means?). Be sure to explain puberty before it happens. Children can go through puberty anywhere from age 9 to 17, so make sure they are prepared and not surprised by changes happening in their bodies. Here are some resources about this stage: http://astore.amazon.com/dilijoy-20?_encoding=UTF8&node=6. Also, remember to hit up the big subjects before your child enters middle school. Things like masturbation, oral sex, pregnancy, STDs, and same-sex relationships are all hot topics in our schools, and mostly rife with misinformation. This is your opportunity to be the trusted adult with accurate information for your child, in addition to expressing your values and beliefs.
Middle School: Periodically check in with your child about what they’ve been hearing at school. Remember that just because they have questions about behaviors does not mean they are engaging in them. Find out what your school is teaching about sexual health and supplement as needed at home or through community or faith community programs. Monitor television and computer use, and consider software that lets you keep an eye on text messaging and other electronic devices so you can step in if needed.
High School: Continue to be an open resource for your child. Strive to listen and remain a person they can come to with questions and concerns. Even if he or she rolls his or her eyes at you, remember that research shows that teens who talk to their parents are the biggest influence on them and that their parents are the ones they most want to discuss sex, love, and relationships with. For more resources about talking to your teen, check out The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Take a deep breath, parents, and ante up! It’s never too late to start talking, and October is a great time to start.
What are the chances of two Amy's in the same geographical area of the country being sexuality educators and passionate about helping parents talk to their kids about sex? Well, it's true, and here's a special offer from my friend, Amy Lang, who runs Birds+Bees+Kids out here in the Seattle area.
She's won Parent's Choice Awards for her programs and products, so check it out!
Summer Sale! The Ask ANYTHING Journal! They write their questions, you write the answer back and Ta-da! Conversation started. You save $5! Only $9.95 http://tinyurl.com/23y9zzf