Today's a big day! It's International Sex Education Day! Can you commit to taking just 10 minutes to talk to your kids about sex, relationships, and/or consent today? Whether they're 4, 14, or beyond, it's a great day to get some sex-talking done.
I know, it may not your favorite conversation subject with your kids, but there is no time like the present to set aside your own discomfort for the sake of your children...
Here's what talking to your kids about sex and relationships does for them:
1. It protects them! Kids who, from a very young age, have an open line of communication about this subject with a loving caregiver, know the correct anatomical names of their body parts (all of them), and know that sex is only for grown-up bodies are SAFER and less likely to become the victims of child sexual abuse. Having spent years prosecuting sexually violent predators in my work as an attorney, I can tell you that child sex offenders don't like well-informed kids!
2. It's empowering! Kids like to know about their bodies and how their bodies work. Knowledge is power, and kids like--and deserve--to know as much about their vulva as they do their veins, and as much about their penis as their pupils. When kids have accurate information about their body, they can take better care of it.
3. It reduces teen pregnancy and at-risk sexual behavior! Research shows that talking openly and often with kids about this part of their development makes it more likely that, when they chose to have sex, they will do so more safely. In fact, in countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands where formal sex education and social emotional learning starts early, they have dramatically lower rates of teen pregnancy.
4. It reduces the rate of sexual assault! Misogyny, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are pervasive among young people, yet research shows that a significant number of parents aren't talking to kids and teens about this. Discussions about consent are a critical component of conversations about sex and sexual health--from toddlerhood through the teenage years.
5. It encourages healthy relationships! Harvard's Making Caring Common research revealed that large numbers of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting romantic relationships and are anxious about developing them. When we include values, talk about consent, and answer all their many questions about sex--even the ones they don't actually ask out loud--we help them grow into adults who respect their partners and care for themselves in their relationships. And here's the good news: the research showed that the overwhelming majority of teens and young adults WANT to hear from their parents on this!
I could go on and on--when done in an age-appropriate, open, and loving manner there really are NO downsides to talking to your child or teen about sex. They need more information earlier than you probably think, and they need more help as they grow than you think. Even if you aren't sure how to do this, I promise that you are are a much better educator for your children on this topic than Dr. Google.
So get sex talking today! And if you need help, feel free to reach out or check out the fabulous pre-recorded trainings available on talking about sex, talking consent with teens, healthy relationship skills, and much more inside The Heartful Parent Academy!
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