Please Tattle On Other Kids’ Inappropriate Social Media Posts

kids-posting-inappropriate-stuff

I went for a walk with my friend who is the parent of a 7th grade girl and my friend was dating a man who also has a 7th grade girl. Her daughter was curious about the other girl (they hadn’t met yet), so she did what they all do, and looked her up on Facebook. And what did she find? Sexualized and inappropriate selfies on this 13 year old girl’s open-to-the-public page.

My friend’s daughter told her mom about the pictures and my very thoughtful, kind and heart-in-the-right-place friend calmly chatted with her daughter about what she had seen. She was careful to be non-judgemental and concerned and kept the conversation short.

What Should You Do When You See An Inappropriate Post by a Kid?

Next, she texted the girl’s father and said, very simply, “You might want to check your daughter’s Facebook posts. I’m concerned about them.”

And he texted back, “No.”

Due to his refusal to make sure his daughter was safe, even after she talked to him about this, she broke up with him. His unwillingness to even follow up with his child was a total and understandable deal breaker.

She did the right thing. If you see a post by a child that is overtly sexualized, makes you think the child is depressed or suicidal, is violent, or otherwise causes you clear concern, tell the parents. It takes a village especially in our virtual village.

But Isn’t It Meddling To Tattle On Another Person’s Child?

Maybe it’s meddling, but I don’t really give a fuck because I would want to know if my child was posting sexual pictures on her completely-open-to-the-public Facebook page. As an adult who has a completely open personal page, I get some very lovely friend requests from men I don’t know. Lucky for me, my prefrontal cortex is fully formed, my self-esteem is intact, and I can think through whether I want to friend them, or not, regardless of all their compliments about how “lovely a person” I look.

Adolescent girls are not able to discern so well. And adolescents are notorious for being impulsive and making risky and stupid decisions. If adults (and their friends) aren’t willing to say, “Um…posting a picture of yourself in shorty PJ’s with your back arched and looking all sultry, might not be a smart idea” or my favorite, “No.”

What to say to another parent about their kids’ post

You know I love scripts, so here’s what to say, or rather, how to say it:

I feel uncomfortable talking to you about this, but I know I’d want to know if I was I the same position.

My son/daughter mentioned that your child posted a picture on (social media site) and it was (overtly sexual, violent, depressed, etc.).

I am worried about your child’s safety, so I wanted to let you know.

Then shut up and be very careful, kind and thoughtful as they process. They may get mad at you. They may be grateful. They may not give a shit.

Then you have to leave it in their hands. Which can suck. Or lead to a break up.

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Impulsive Teens! Ack! What’s Going On With Your Teen’s Brain?

teen-brain

As a caregiver to a teen, it may make your life a little easier if you know what’s going on with your teen’s brain. You may have noticed you and your teen driving each other crazy, your teen is more emotional, and they sometimes do things without thinking them through. You can help your teen (and yourself) through these times, including understanding “why,” tips for regaining emotional control, and even sharing what it’s like to be in charge.

A teen’s brain – It’s getting a tune up

At around 11 years, the brain begins a process of refining the prefrontal cortex. This area is responsible for impulse and emotional control, decision making, goal setting, and organization of many tasks. The amygdala—the emotional center – is the part of the brain that’s running the show. Add on a big dose of hormones, and… Ack! Eventually their hormones will even out and your teen will settle down into their young adult self. Talking with your teen about why they feel impulsive, along with strategies to regain emotional control, can help prevent them from saying or doing something they’ll regret.

The Power of “Maybe”

Your teen can say “maybe” when someone asks them to do something. Other strategies are; count to 50, do a quick pro and con list, get up and walk away, or say they need to pee to buy some time. Suggest they set up a code with a friend that means “I’m not into this.” Help your teen practice their impulse resistance skills. Remind your teen: if they say “maybe,” they must say “yes” or “no” eventually. It’s not fair to leave someone hanging. But saying “maybe” can help your teen stay true to their values, which can be very empowering.

When it comes to sexual activity “maybe” should not be a response. It will be confusing to their partner and could result in an unhappy situation. Tell them if they’re not sure, or are even a little bit uncomfortable, to say “no” and stop what they’re doing immediately. Yes, means yes.

Sexting – The Impulse Train Wreck

“Sexting” is sending text messages with pictures of their naked body, private body parts, or sexy pictures. Discuss with them that making, owning, or sending such pictures of anyone under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and is illegal.

The Power of Sharing Your View

Teen years can sometimes mean parents and kids challenge one another. Help your teen see things from your point of view. In your own words talk about how you’re feeling with them growing up, and with how wild the world is, that you may be afraid to let them go. If you are having a fight with your teen, go somewhere else to calm down, then return and resolve the discussion. This is a great way to model good relationships. Teaching your teen about relationships can help them make empowered decisions in line with their values.

 

This awesomeness is the parent version of the same chapter in my book for teens, Dating Smarts. You should buy it for yourself. And your kids. Get it here.

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Sex Positive Parenting Explained

sex-postive-parenting

What Does Sex Positive Mean?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sex positive” and maybe you know what it means. For a long time I thought it meant, “Please, go ahead and have sex with whomever you want, whenever you want, with whatever tools-costumes-toys you want, where ever you want and I’ll pretend to be fine with that.”

That’s not really what it means – or not quite, anyway. It actually means you see sexuality as a positive, natural and healthy part of life and humanness, in all its forms. For me “sex positive” means I don’t care what you do sexually as long as it’s consenting and does not involve children, animals or “breathplay.”

 What Is Sex Positive Parenting?

Sex positive parenting is what I teach — that sexuality is a natural, normal and healthy part of childhood, adolescence and adulthood — and it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach this to their children. Sex positive mama Lea Grover, from Becoming Supermommy, and I had the pleasure of chatting with Caitlyn Becker about “Sex Positive Parenting” on Huff Post Live. Take a gander.

What Sex Positive Parenting Really Looks Like.

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Talking to kids after they come out — How to support an LBGTQ child who’s not yours

talk-kids-after-they-come-out

By Jen O’Ryan, Ph.D.

Holidays can be a stressful time. Getting together with family will sometimes surface old hurts or disagreements; political, religious, or otherwise. This can be especially true for LGBTQ youth or young adults in a family environment that is not supportive. Family gatherings can act as a catalyst for people to vocalize their disapproval of the youth’s sexual orientation or gender identity / expression. Even those who believe they are well-meaning can try to draw other adults into this damaging exchange, using the gathering as an opportunity to shame a child into altering this extremely personal aspect of their identity.

Be the support an LGBTQ youth needs and deserves

One theme that continues to emerge in my conversations around healthy development for LGBTQ youth is the concept of “the one”. During my research, in almost every case there was a supportive adult somewhere in the individual’s environment. Even when the families rejected their own child because of sexual orientation, there was another older person in the person’s life with whom they felt supported and accepted. Sometimes having even one, just one, safe person available to the child changed everything for them later in life.

Easy steps to becoming great support for an LGBTQ child or young adult

Here are eight easy steps to becoming that “one” for an LGBTQ child or young adult in your life this holiday season.

  1. Don’t ask the child if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This simply isn’t done. Non-negotiable. They may not feel comfortable confiding in you or coming out (disclosing their orientation or gender). Also, do not say “I knew it!” if a child comes out to you. Be cool, take a breath, acknowledge the courage it often takes to come out, and ask what they need. It’s all about them.
  2. Do use the child’s preferred name and pronouns. Family members who refuse to use the child’s personal pronouns or continually refer to them using a birth name may not realize the extent of long-term harm they are inflicting. If you forget (and you will) apologize and acknowledge to them that you’re still learning. This is also a good time to ask the child if they are “out” in some areas of life, but not others. For example, it’s not uncommon for a child or young adult to openly express their gender identity in school, but not at home, if the family is unsupportive.
  3. Do ask what the child needs or would like your help with. Too often well-intended advocates take action that the child isn’t ready to manage. Remember, it’s all about them. Your role as a supportive adult is to listen and provide help…even if that means simply giving them a hug or finding appropriate resources for them.
  4. Do hold what is shared in confidence. Unless the child mentions serious, life-endangering issues (self-harm, suicidal thoughts, abuse, etc.), do not disclose to anyone without their enthusiastic consent.
  5. Don’t take the bait. When someone attempts to draw you into a heated debate, calmly state your position (that is also backed by extensive research). Model positive behavior. Trust me, someone is watching.
  6. Don’t create or contribute to a hostile environment. Engaging in an emotionally charged, heated debate might make you feel better, but will likely put the child at risk of harm after everyone has gone home.
  7. Don’t make something up if you have no idea of the answer (this is also a “Do” – see step 8).
  8. Do your homework. If you aren’t familiar with a term or are asked a question and are not equipped to answer, that’s ok. They aren’t coming to you because you’re an expert on sex and gender, they’re coming to you because you are safe. Look it up, educate yourself, and circle back with them.
  9. This is a bonus step – do keep the lines of communication open. Talk about how they can reach you, continue to treat them as you did before, and keep up the good work!

 

Dr. Jen ORyan is Co-Chair of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) in Washington State, and also manages a user experience testing program for Kindle devices at Amazon. Prior to this, she was an active member of the Community Advisory Board for MPowerment, a youth-lead peer outreach group under Lifelong AIDS Alliance. Jen has been a longtime advocate for LGBTQ youth and brings an extensive background on factors contributing to healthy development during childhood and adolescence.

 

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Whose Values Count When it Comes to Teens and Dating?

teens kissing

Dating Smarts for Parents Whose Values Count When it Comes to Teens and Dating?

As much as we would all like to be there at every step, when our children become teenagers they are granted more freedom. Teens dating is a big part of gaining independence whether you are ready for it or not! They go out into the world and begin making more and more of their own decisions without us. This is part of what being a teenager and becoming an adult is all about – separating (in some ways) from parents and family and developing opinions about what is true for them.

When your children know, understand, and can talk about their sexual values, theyll make better decisions.

We all remember when we were teens, right? Many important decisions were made (good or bad) without our parents at our side to guide us. When your children know, understand, and can talk about their values, including their sexual values, they’ll make better decisions. The act of giving thought and voice to what they believe helps them stand firm in the face of situations where they will make their own decisions.

Discuss your values about sexuality and dating

A simple thing you can do is to discuss your values about sexuality and dating with your teen. First, take a moment to list your values and why you believe them. Most of us unconsciously know our values but have rarely thought carefully about why they are true for us. Encourage your teen to really consider and talk about what they personally value and why. Remember, your teen is more likely to hear what you have to say if you show the respect they are beginning to earn as they grow more mature. If you’re stuck, spend some time thinking about the following issues.

  • Teen pregnancy. What would you do if you were involved in a pregnancy right now? Do you think abortion should be an option for women? Why or why not?
  • Masturbation. It’s completely normal for both sexes to masturbate and completely normal not to masturbate. What do you think?
  • Sex before marriage. Okay or not okay? What are the benefits to waiting? Of not waiting?
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. What’s your plan? What do you know about transmission, signs, and symptoms? What more do you want to know?
  • Same sex relationships. Okay or not? Why?
  • Oral sex. Casual or intimate?
  • Casual sex, multiple partners. Healthy exploration or risky behavior?
  • Core values. How have your relationships measured up to your core values?
  • Value contradiction. How does it feel when you go against your values?

Is this list scary to you? Your teen has probably heard all about these by age 13. Talking with your teen about sexual values goes a long way towards helping them have healthy, fun, and great relationships. Whether they’ve never been on a date or have been on three hundred, knowing their beliefs will give them an advantage compared to most of the people they will be dating. If they feel clear about their values, they will be more confident and empowered around choices and decisions—in all aspects of their life.

Check out Dating Smarts What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait! for more great conversation starters. On Amazon.

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How to talk to kids about HIV and AIDS

Talk-to-kids-about-HIV-AIDS

It’s World AIDS Day and the perfect day to talk about HIV and AIDS. Go for it!

How to talk to kids about HIV and AIDS

It’s World AIDS Day so here is a script for talking to kids about HIV and AIDS.

How to explain an STD

“Sometimes when people have sex they can spread germs and get sick, kind of like sneezing and giving someone a cold. This is called a sexually transmitted disease or STD.”

“You know how you cover your mouth when you sneeze? We there is this thing called a condom that a man can put over his penis to catch the semen. It fits like a glove. This can prevent pregnancy and stop germs that cause STDs from spreading.”

How to explain HIV and AIDS

“There is this STD called HIV that causes an illness called AIDS. It’s caused by a virus or germ that travels from person to person in body fluids – blood, semen, vaginal secretions and breast milk. The HIV virus eats away the immune system that usually keeps us healthy. The white blood cells can’t fight off regular illnesses and diseases and the person with HIV eventually develops AIDS.”

“It’s sad because AIDS causes the person to die. There is no cure right now, but people can take medicines that help them to be healthy and live as long as possible.”

“People prevent spreading this disease by using condoms when they decide to have sex with someone. This is not something you need to worry about now, but just information for you for the future.”

Video about how to talk about STDs and HIV

 

 

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Amy’s Fun and Unique Birds + Bees Themed Holiday Gift Ideas

Fun and unique birds and bees gift ideas

Amys Fun and Unique Birds + Bees Themed Holiday Gift Ideas

It’s holiday time and that means presents. Here’s a list of fun and interesting birds + bees themed gifts so you can give some unique and different gifts this year.

Wildlife Houses & Feeders Butterfly and Nature Gifts 

They have homes for birds, bats, bees, ladybugs and even toads! Most of their houses are individually hand-painted, so slight variations in the painting occur and serve to enhance the originality of each piece.

Bird (and other critter) Themed Toys Songbird Garden 

They offer a wide selection of nature gift items that entertain, educate, and challenge the minds and imaginations of children. Everything from Paint a Bird House or Bird Feeder Kits, children’s books, kaleidoscopes, kids umbrellas, shaped rubber bands, bug windups and many other nature-themed toys are found at Songbird Garden.

Beeswax Candles Beeswax Candle Works

100% pure beeswax is the only ingredient in their handmade candles and they buy from only US beekeepers. They have over 35 sizes of hand dipped candles, three sizes of tea lights, four sizes of votives, two sizes of emergency candle tins, over 25 sizes of solid pillars, over 30 figurines, and 14 sizes of beeswax honeycomb candles.

Birds & Bees Jewelry Etsy 

Etsy is a marketplace where people around the world connect, both online and offline, to make, sell and buy unique goods.

Tea Birds & Bees Teas

Birds & Bees wants to share their love of loose leaf blends by encouraging mamas to create a daily self-care habit of sipping slowly. They believe that it’s important to support birth professionals, advocate for evidence based care and give back to the community through organizations that champion quality maternal health care for all.

Coffee Birds & Bees Blend from Kaldis Coffee

Birds & Bees is a South and Central American blend of hard-bean coffees, roasted hot and long until most of their essential oils rise to the surface. A classic roast perennially favored in Continental Europe. Kaldi’s Coffee is dedicated to creating a memorable coffee experience for their customers and guests, committing to sustainable business practices, providing educational opportunities, and supporting the communities that they serve.

Honey Ballard Bee Company

The Ballard Bee Company is what founder and owner Corky Luster calls an “urban pollination company.” The retail sales of honey coming from these hives supports their program of acquiring more hives and expanding the apiary into other parts of the city. Working together with neighbors and their backyards, the Ballard Bee Company produces a truly provincial food. It’s honey that is local…produced in the Seattle area with help of people who are involved in the food process.

Honeybees Heifer Project International 

Give the gift of honeybees and change a family’s life forever. Heifer Project empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but their approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.

Chicks Heifer Project International 

Give the gift of a flock of chicks and change a family’s life forever. Heifer Project empowers families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but their approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps bring sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty.

Bodycare Products Burts Bees

From candles to cosmetics, Burt’s Bees believes what you put on your body should be made from the very best nature has to offer. And this means bees. 10% of the purchase price will be donated to The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation.

Birds + Bees for Grown-Ups Babeland

Find something naughty AND nice! ;-) Claire Cavanah and Rachel Venning opened the first Babeland store in 1993 in response to the lack of women-friendly sex shops in Seattle. The store offered top quality products, a pleasant place to shop, and most of all information and encouragement to women who wanted to explore their sexuality. The store’s popularity with both women and men has led to three more stores in New York, plus a thriving and educational website.

Happy Gift Giving! If you have kids age seven and under it’s totally cool to give them a birds + bees book for the holidays. If they are over the age of seven, it’s totally un-cool — they will probably be embarrassed, so don’t do it. Book ideas for the little ones here: Amy’s Bookstore. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

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What is the Difference Between a Transgender Child or Gender Non-conforming Child?

transgender child  vs gender nonconforming child

Guest Blog By Susan Hope Berland

Generally, our culture assigns gender roles to children at birth based on their private parts. But sometimes kids don’t fit their birth-assigned gender and are gender non-conforming. I’ve been thinking a lot about why we want to know the gender of a new born baby. I think it’s to let us know how to relate to that new life. If “it’s a boy” we think in terms of male clothing, male colors, male toys. We buy blue or green or brown, not pink and purple. If “it’s a girl” we think in terms of female clothing, frilly and pink and girl toys like dolls.

How does a parent react when their little boy wants to wear glitter and tutus? Or their little girl refuses to wear a dress, wants her hair cut short and only likes “boy” toys? And what does it mean anyway? Does it mean that child is transgender? Does it mean that child is gay? Does it mean that child is gender non-conforming. Maybe and maybe not.

A child who is transgender will declare their gender

Typically, a child who is transgender will declare their gender. When you refer to her as a girl, she’ll say she’s a boy. A boy may ask why he has a penis – girls aren’t supposed to. There are signs like these that can let a parent know from an early age that their child is transgender.

Some children declare their gender as soon as they are old enough to express it. Others a little later and others not until just before or after puberty. Trust your child to know their gender even if it doesn’t conform to the gender they were assigned at birth and may not make sense to you. Gender is not about what genitals a person has but who they know themselves to be in their heart.  This can be hard for those of us who are not transgender to understand.

A gender non-conforming child (who is not transgender) just prefers clothing and toys of the opposite gender

The gender non-conforming child or gender expressive who is not transgender just prefers clothing and toys of the opposite gender to the one they were assigned at birth. Trying to force them to conform can cause a lot of emotional pain and stress for that child.

As a parent, it’s up to you to support your child’s preferred form of expression and to learn about this so you can be their champion. And it’s up to you to educate those around you and who interact with your child, including teachers and school administrators. And you may need to become advocates for your child to ensure they aren’t shamed, harassed, teased or bullied.

Like all children, gender non-conforming children and transgender children want to know that you love them just as they are. Do you want anything less for your children?

Parenting Coach Susan Berland is fiercely committed to guiding parents of LGBTQ youth back to a loving, accepting relationship when they are struggling to accept their child as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Susan guides parents and their kids to communicate effectively, trust one another and accept one another where and as they are. You can learn more about Susan at susanhopeberland.com

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How to talk about waiting for sex with young children

Talk To Young Kids About Waiting For Sex

… it’s important to plant the seed about waiting to have sex early on…. here’s how.

As part of your conversations with your little kids, it’s important to plant the seed about waiting early on. You will note that I don’t say anything about sex being something “adults” do because that’s not true. Teens have sex. It’s smarter to say, “When you are older.”

“Wait To Have Sex” Script for 3 to 8 year olds:

Even though sex feels really great, sex isn’t for kids. It’s for when you are older. Kids’ bodies, hearts and minds aren’t ready for sex. We’ll have lots of conversations about this stuff so when it’s time for you, you’ll be ready.

I hope you will wait until you are…(married, in college, in a loving committed relationship) before you take this step.

“Wait To Have Sex” Script for 9+:

The reason I expect you to wait until you are older to have sex is because this is an adult decision with really big consequences. The older you are, the better decisions you will make – and the sex will be better too!

When you are in a loving, committed relationship there is a level of trust, communication and respect that makes it safer to be sexual with someone. You can easily talk about birth control, what you like, what you would do if you or your partner became pregnant.

We will talk about this a lot and you may get tired of it. It’s my job to make sure you know it all so you can make great choices and have great relationships.

What are your plans for the future? Let’s talk about how your future would change if you were to become pregnant/impregnate someone.

Expert Tips On How To Talk To Your Kids About Waiting For Sex

If they ask you how old you were when you had sex the first time, be as honest as you can. If you lie, they will eventually find out, so it’s better to find a way to talk about it. For example, if Milo ever DARES to ask me that question, I will say, “I was one month from being 17 and with a guy that I really liked. We weren’t in a relationship. If I had it to do over again, I wish that I had been in love and in a relationship with someone I trusted, like your dad. That’s what I hope for you.”

One Note of Caution:

If you were sexually abused as a child or raped your first time, do not tell your children about this. Instead, talk to them about the first time you chose to have sex. Your child needs to see you as whole and healthy and I believe sharing a traumatic event like this with them can be very upsetting. When they are older (late teens) and it seems appropriate, it’s okay to tell them the rest of the story. I know you may not agree with me about this, and that’s cool. Do what you think is right for you and your family.

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Funny Birds + Bees Stories

The Funny Things Children Say About Sex

I’ve been at this a long time – 10 years! And parents tell me the funniest things their kids say about sex and bodies. Here are a few good ones to get you through the start of school.

I was thinking of you two weekends ago when I was driving with my 6 year old, William and he said, “Mommy, I need to know about sex. I want to make sure I understand so I will know how to do it when I grow up.”

We had our talk, your book really helped, btw. We spoke about all things an almost 7 year old needs to know and then some.

My favorite part, and you have to think in a little boy voice, was when he summarized by saying, “So the sperm SHOOOOOTS (ker-pow!) out of the penis and the swimming guys attack the egg (ahhhh, get out of my way, get out of my way!) trying to be the first in line to make the baby, right?”

I told him he got the first-grader version and that we would need to talk again either when he had more questions or was older – that there were other more detailed versions in store for him, lol.

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I run into my 10 year old daughter’s room when I’m on my way to the shower (yes, I’m naked), I ask her a quick question and get her response and she says,”Okay. . .can you leave now because this IS NOT a pretty sight!”

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My five year old daughter was going to the bathroom and all her friends where there. The hostess checked on them and my daughter said, “I’m fine! This is Vaginatown!”

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6 year old boy: “You know the other thing I hate about having a penis is that it’s never in the right place at the right time.”

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11 year old girl to her father regarding sex: “But it’s so squishy in there, how can you stand it?!”

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“It’s not a weiner – it’s a dick!” One 2nd grade boy to another.

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8 year old boy: “I know the ‘F’ word.”

Mom: “What?”

Boy: “Can I say it?”

Mom: “Sure.”

Boy: “Fugina.”

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And one of my all-time favorites:

2.5 year old boy to his mother: “Mommy do you have a penis? Oh, I know! You have a brain!”

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Do you have any great sex-talking stories? I’d love to hear them! Feel free to email me back, tell your tale and let me know if it’s okay for me to use them in my upcoming book. ;-) Thanks!

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