5 Radical Ways To Help Your Kids Avoid HIV

I just participated – by happy accident – in my first “Twitter Party.” The focus was on HIV and young people and how we can help them make better, smarter, healthier decisions about protecting themselves from HIV. If you Tweet, the hash tags were #HIV #YouthHIV and #NYHAAD.

Here are some facts:

  • About 1 in 4 new HIV infections in the US are in people aged 13 – 24.
  • Almost 60% of young people with HIV do not know they are infected.
  • 1,ooo young people acquire HIV each month.
  • 85% of women with HIV got it through heterosexual contact.

And here are some radical ideas you can use to change these dismal stats: Flavored Condoms

  1. At about age 14, buy condoms for your children and have them in a conspicuous place. A jar in the bathroom, front hallway, etc. Having them available doesn’t encourage them to have sex, per se, but to do it safely, if they are having sex.
  2. Encourage your boys to masturbate with condoms. This way they will be able to put one on in the dark, one handed, upside down, etc. They will also learn what they feel like, so no excuses about it not “feeling good” when they have sex.
  3. Tell your girls they are just as responsible for having condoms as the guys and tell them where they can get them. Check out these great new condoms marketed to women – Sustain.
  4. When your children are 15 (or s0) make STD testing part of their regular medical check up. Their records are completely private, even from you. This will make testing a normal part of health care.
  5. Talk openly about all the different kinds of sex – vaginal, oral and anal – and be clear about how HIV (and other STDs) are transmitted, what behaviors are most risky and the safest ways to be sexual with someone.

As usual, the only way to make sure your kids are informed about HIV, STDs, sex, sexuality and relationships is if you tell them yourself.

Posted in HIV, how to talk to kids about sex, sex talks, STD | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Give it up, mama! Daddy ain’t coming to the sex talk party!

I’ve been at this “teach-parents-how-to-talk-to-their-kids-about-sex” game for 9 fun-fulled years. Nearly all the time this gig is a total blast for me. I have had my not-so-fun moments, like when a group of uber-conservative and religious folks at a conference was offended by something I said and “challenged” (I use quotes because they didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about and their religious claptrap did not help their case) and heckled me for about 15 minutes.

A couple of other attendees who were sitting near them told me later they got up and moved because they didn’t want me to think they agreed with their crazed brethren. I was pretty much undone by this moment and it required a certain number of glasses of wine (3) and a whiny phone call to my BFF before I was recovered enough to go out to dinner with another, kinder, smarter and gentler religious nut-job.

The sex talking gig has it’s ups and downs. Such is life. But it seems that one consistent down is the daddies. Where the are the daddies? Once upon a time, I thought the absence of daddies at my talks was because the mommies needed a break, and they were needing some sex talky support, so dad stayed home and they went to Birds + Bees school.

I figured as word got out about me and my motivating sex talking message, dads would begin to show up more frequently. Inspired mamas would send the baby daddies so they too could join the party! I was wrong. My current daddy to mama ratio is about 1 in 9. My historical daddy to mama ratio is 1 in 10. Sigh.

Here’s the deal mamas: fuck the daddies. Seriously. Fuck them in the traditional sense of the word (if that’s something you already do); and fuck them in the – “fogettabout ‘em” sense as well. They are not coming to the party. They get invited, I know they do, but they just ain’t jumping on the sex talk train.

It’s time give up the hope, the idea, the dream, they will suddenly show up all “birds + bees” talking. With their daughters! Their sons! With you! Let go of the fantasy they want to strategize about what and when and who and how to have these life changing conversations.

Give it up, sisters. Ain’t gonna happen. Because if it was going to happen, it would have by now. There are endless opportunities to talk to our kids about sex, love, dating, bodies, boundaries and the whole universe of sexuality. And, as far as I can tell, most daddies are not rising (heh-heh) to this particular occasion.

I can hear the collective sigh. I know. I know it feels like it is ALL up to you. All. Of. It. And I am so sorry about that. Seriously, I feel your pain. This conscious (as I like to call it) parenting thing seems to be driven by moms. Some days I wish I had the more “along for the ride” attitude of my spouse. Note the word *attitude* –  his skin is in the game and he’s a great parent – and better than me in many ways, perhaps for this very reason is – his attitude.

And! I can hear the collective Daddy Outrage from those who are fully engaged in these conversations! YOU GO! Be outraged! And get your brothers to step it up. Because when you show ‘em how it’s done, they pay attention. When you tell your man-friends to STFU (that’s “Shut The Fuck Up” for you oldsters) when they are clearly and 100% objectifying women, that’s a sex talk.

When you talk about your experience dating, crushing and what you were thinking about when you were your kids’ age – that’s a sex talk. When you say, “I got this” when you are watching a show with your kids and there’s some hook-up style sex. That’s just plain old sexy talk, which I am always 100% behind.

I think I need to sum this up in some way – and all I can think to tell you is this: there is liberation in no longer relying on someone who isn’t able or willing to be part of the sex education of your children. When you decide you are the “it girl” for the sex education in your family, you will no longer feel resentful or guilty because you will get it done and done well.

So get out there and fuck the daddies. They’ll appreciate it, one way or another. ;-)

Posted in how to talk to kids about sex, Parenting, parenting advice, sex talks, Talking to kids about sex | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Death by HPV Vaccine Is Total BS – Vaccinate Your Kids!

Two things happened at about the same time a couple of weeks ago. First, I was asked to write a blog in support of HPV vaccination by the lovely Mackenzie Melton, MPH, the
Immunization Project Coordinator for Within Reach WA.  Second, 12-year-old Meredith Prohaska died the same day she received an HPV shot. Obviously, there are no words to express the incredible sorrow and wrongness of her death.

There are, however, a few words to express the wrongness of concluding the HPV vaccination caused her death and those words are “correlation is not causation.” For those of you (like me, actually) who aren’t quite clear about what this means, I’m happy to spell it out.

Imagine I am wearing new underwear to work one day and I decide to show it off to my coworkers. And then I get fired. The reason I got fired is not because of my new underwear, but because I chose to show it off. In other words, the new underwear’s relationship to my firing (correlation) is incidental. The reason (cause) I was fired was the showing off, not the new underwear. I could wear new underwear every day and not get fired. Got it?

BoysandGirls_320x250

On to HPV. HPV can cause cancer of the vulva, vagina, anus, penis, back of tongue, back of throat and tonsils. It can also cause genital warts. You don’t have to have symptoms to pass it on and it’s amazingly easy to get. In fact, about 80% of sexually active adults have had it and it is the Number 1 sexually transmitted infection. You can read up about it’s nastiness here.

Of course, I wondered if anyone has definitely, absolutely died from receiving this cancer preventing vaccination and this is what I discovered: No. There’s an excellent expose on Snopes.com that takes this issue on. Here’s the most relevant excerpt:

From June 2006 to March 2013, approximately 57 million doses of HPV vaccines were distributed and Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received approximately 22,000 adverse event reports occurring in girls and women who received them. As noted in a 2013 CDC follow-up announcement, 92% of those reports were classified as “non-serious,” the other 8% generally encompassed symptoms such as “headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, syncope, and generalized weakness,” and adverse events reported to VAERS were “consistent with those identified during the vaccine’s per-licensure clinical trials.”

You can read the whole thing here.

The last time I checked, 92% plus 8% equals 100% and this means no one died from the HPV vaccine. Yay! 100% no deaths sounds like an excellent track record to me. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but cancer tends to actually-factually kill people.

Your kids should start the series at age 11 or so – both boys and girls. Why so young? It’s usually before they are sexually active at all so they have a clean slate. When you talk to them about it, be clear HPV is sexually transmitted, it’s incredibly easy to get and it can cause cancer. If you don’t know how to explain what an STI is, you can learn how here.

 

Posted in Birds and bees, Parenting, Puberty, STD, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

The “C” Word (No, Not THAT One!)

I recently received an email from a mama who was worried about her sweet middle school daughter who is doing what middle school girls all over the world do – toying with boys, clothes and the intersection of these two things. Here’s what she said:

I am struggling with my middle school daughter wanting to dress older  than her age and starting to be interested in boys and coming under cultural pressure to “soften” her edges to be likeable and pleasing to boys. I want to keep talking to her about why it’s not appropriate to look sexy in middle school without sending the message that boys can’t or shouldn’t try to control themselves. Any ideas about how to do this?

I am not at all surprised they are struggling with this – I regularly count my blessings that I don’t have a daughter, partially because of this BS – but what did surprise me is the idea of allowing girls to think, even for a minute, that boys can’t control themselves.

Aren’t we past this? Am I living in a feminist fantasy where everyone knows boys and men can and do “control themselves” all the time? Right now, everywhere on the planet boys and men are actively not raping and pillaging their way through their days. They are “controlling” themselves. As the mother of a young teen boy, I am responsible for educating him about his body, his hormones, horniness and “controlling” it (seriously, it never occurred to me to talk to him about this idea of needing to “control” himself).

consent-infographic-lgInstead of control, I talk about the other “C” word – consent. In my mind, consent is where it’s at – not control. When we talk about consent, we talk about how everyone agrees to whatever it is that’s on the table (or bed or wherever). We talk about how to check in and to confirm consent has been given. We talk about how sometimes people will say “no” but then keep on keeping on and how this can be confusing and create big problems. We talk about communication and openness and waiting until he’s 27 before he has sex. 

We talk about how girls sometimes don’t understand what they are doing when they dress in a sexy way. How they are influenced by our sexualized culture and think they need to dress and behave in ways that are beyond their years to fit in or get attention. We talk about how this doesn’t mean they are advertising their availability for sex. 

Just like the mom who emailed me does with her daughter, we talk about how it’s those girls’ parents’ responsibility to talk to them about this fucked up world we live in. It’s their responsibility to help their girls navigate all the misguided messages they get about what’s important about being female in our culture. 

Finally, and most importantly, we talk about how it’s my son’s responsibility to understand this and to do his best to remember her value is on the inside. What she chooses to wear has little or no bearing on who she is or what makes her fabulous, whether she knows it or not.

Posted in Birds and bees, Parenting, Puberty, Sexualization, Talking to kids about sex, Teens, Tweens, Values | Leave a comment

The Mr. Hobby Lobby Decision: The Supreme Court’s Super-Secret Agenda (Maybe)

You probably expect me to rant about the anti-woman, anti-choice, stupid, short sighted, overstepping, lame-ass, audacious, and downright sexist decision made by the  Supremes in the Mr. Hobby Lobby case.

Hobby-Lobby-decision-birth-control-

And you would be totally right in thinking I could rant my pants off about it, but I’m here for another, altogether different rant. . .

What the fuck is up with businesses being expected to provide health care insurance for their employees? I’m serious – why on earth should a business provide insurance at all? Whether or not their employees have health insurance is none of their business – professionally or personally. As a small business owner, I cannot see why I should be required provide it to my employees – it has nothing to do with my business or their work.

I know I sound like a Libertarian (props to you, my Lib pals), but I’d like you to think about this for a minute – objectively. Businesses started providing health insurance as an extra benefit to their employees. Benefits are like bribes and dessert – awesome and unnecessary. A healthy workforce works harder and better and often the insurance was a total necessity because of the dangerous nature of the work. Somehow this benefit turned into a worker’s right, no matter what the work, and that’s where it all falls apart for me.

Do you consider good health and access to healthcare a universal human right? Do you believe our children have the right to free public education? Me too. I think this healthcare thing comes under the same umbrella and should be provided by the same people who bring you public schools, highways, bank regulation and wars – our less-than-stellar government.

Which brings me to the super-secret agenda: the Supremes think so too. This shitty Mr. Hobby Lobby decision is the first step to building a case for socialized medicine in the US. By codifying a business’s right to have an opinion, religion and values (hence my use of “Mr.” if you didn’t make that connection) that are at odds with the good of the masses, it paves the way for unbiased, opinion free healthcare for all of us.

Frankly, I think Mr. Hobby Lobby can and should do whatever he likes with the benefit they are required to provide. They shouldn’t be forced to provide it anyway and sadly, their “win” isn’t a win at all considering the mess it may cause. Unless, of course, I’m right and the Supremes have a larger, smarter person in mind to provide health insurance – Uncle Sam. I’m not holding my breath. 

hobby-lobby3

Posted in Abortion, Birth Control, Values | Tagged , , ,

Dear Pubic Hair…

Dear Pubic Hair:

Hey! It seems like it’s been forever since I’ve seen you – 15 years? Longer? It’s funny – I can’t really remember the last time I saw you. It’s seems so crazy because you were once so much a part of basic nudity and sex.

I feel bad that we haven’t really connected in so long – what happened? I keep making up these stories about how hard it is for you to stand up for yourself when some crazed razor or waxer attacks you without even considering your feelings. Do they even ask if you want to be so rudely yanked out? Are you able to fight for your right to act as a directional sign for penetration?

I hajoyofsex220ve such fond (and a wee bit traumatic) memories of the splash you made in the Joy Of Sex. I had no idea people could be so hairy! It makes me laugh every time I think of all that 70‘s style bush and armpit hair and how amazed I was at those illustrations.
 

Now I’m amazed because kids these days never see pubic hair. Their moms are waxed down to landing strips or nothing, the women they inevitably see in porn are in the same state and teen girls are taking this lack of fur to heart, so they too, wax it all off.

 
I keep wondering what are girls learning when they see their moms without their god-given fur? Do they think there is something wrong with them when they start to grow their own? What kind of full body love example are moms setting when they zip this part of their bodies clean away?

Maybe the thing is that you’ve forgotten your what your purpose in life is. Have you? I haven’t. Seriously, we need you. The world needs more pubic hair. You are so amazing – colorful, soft, inviting. You make vaginas safer, penises stand prouder and put the “P” in pheromones.

madonna22f-1-webDon’t people remember the fact that you are one of the biggest signs that a person’s body is no longer a kid’s body? I have no idea why anyone other than a pedophile would want to fool around with a woman who’s cooch looks like a toddler’s. I’m trying to come up with the best word ever to describe the feeling I have when I think about this and just can’t do it. “Ick” doesn’t quite do the trick.

Sweet Pubes, it would be so cool to see you make a huge come back – kind of like the hipster beards young men are sporting these days. But my guess is that until porn decides pubic hair is “in” again, women will be turning their vulvas into naked mole rats and I will have to revisit The Joy Of Sex if I want remember the good old, pube-postive days.

naked-mole-rat0_2328106b
In love and solidarity,

Amy

Posted in Uncategorized

Uncle Creepy: How To Spot a Pedophile

The Sandusky verdict prompts me to remind you it’s an adult’s responsibility to protect children. This means if you are concerned about an adult in your child’s life, please do something about it, rather than putting your head in the sand. Contact Stop It Now! for help if you have questions about an adult’s behavior.

Here are some things to watch out for with regard to adult behaviors that could be “red flags.” Share this info with your kids – they need to be empowered to tell you if an adult or older kid is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable.

These are just suggestions and won’t actually “diagnose” a pedophile but will give you guidelines if you are worried. And remember, 93% of the time, the person is known to the family.

1) Are they more interested in hanging out with kids than adults?

2) Do they have loose boundaries and insist on tickling, wrestling, hugging and touching kids even when the child has asked them to stop? Do they have loose emotional boundaries as well?

3) Do they hang with kids and make their home very welcome to kids (even though they don’t have any of their own)? Do they have all the latest and greatest toys and video games?

4) Do they seem “too good to be true”, i.e. frequently babysits different children for free; takes children on special outings alone; buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason?

5) Is their contact with a child outside of their job description/role? i.e. Coach giving rides home, teacher offering special tutoring sessions out of class/school, texting “just to say hi”,  school music teacher offering private lessons, etc.

6) Takes the child into their confidence by sharing secrets or adult information? Do they talk to children about sex?

7) Do they view child pornography?

8) Do they give you an uncomfortable our “uh-oh” feeling when you see them interact with kids?

9) Do they photograph children “for fun”?

10) Did they sexually abuse or molest you when you were a child?

11) Are they a pillar of the community? Charming, attractive, nice, friendly and very  concerned with the plight of children in your community?

12) Do they buy special gifts for your child, praise them, tell you how amazing and special your child is?

13) Do they volunteer and/or work with children at school, church or in community organizations?

14) Do they seem preoccupied with your child?

If the adult is a problem, most likely there will be more than one thing on this list. Just because someone is actively involved in a youth ministry, it doesn’t mean they are a problem. But if they are involved in the youth ministry AND shower your child with praise and gifts, I’d be on alert.

Learn more here:

http://crime.about.com/od/sex/p/pedophile.htm

http://www.stopitnow.org/

Prevention tips – your kids need to know how to protect themselves:

http://savvyparentssafekids.com/

http://www.stopitnow.org/faqs

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized