Birds + Bees Talks Stalling Tactics!

Stall the sex talkYay! Stalling! It’s totally okay to do this because sometimes your kid may ask a question and the timing is terrible. However, if you stall you MUST get back to them with an answer to their question. If you don’t, you will undermine their trust in you as their reliable sex expert.

Here is the first thing you should say when your kid asks a question: “What a great question!”

I love this because they will feel like a Rock Star for being so smart and asking. Even better it gives you time to come up with an answer.

Next, ask the following questions. You might be surprised at the answers as they may be shocking. So, take a deep breath and get calm before you ask:

  1. Where did you hear about that?
  2. What do you think it means?

You will be able to figure out your response as they answer these questions. It’s totally fine if your response is something like, “Thanks for asking me about this. I need to think about the answer for little bit. How about we touch base tomorrow or at bedtime.”

If you say this you are required to do what you said you would. Even if you can’t figure out what to say, you need to get back to them at the time you said you would and tell them you are working on it.

Onward!

Posted in How To Talk To Kids About Sex, Parenting Tips, What to Say | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest Post: Talking to Kids About Sexual Orientation

by Dr. Jen O’Ryan

Picture a typical gathering of friends over the holidays. Laughter, music, conversation, kids running around. Now picture one of the younger kiddos enthusiastically running up to her mom and announcing that two men are kissing in one of the framed pictures down the hall. If you had spent this evening at my home, what happened…erm, I mean ‘would have’ happened is that the room goes silent except for the faint tones of “Baby, it’s cold outside” playing in the background. Then everyone would turn and look at me expectantly. I wish I could say, for the first time.

So what does this mean, other than I have questionable taste in holiday music? For some parents, the idea of discussing sexual orientation with their children, especially young children, carries with it a certain degree of uncertainty that isn’t always there when talking about heterosexuality. From an outside perspective, it seems people tend to think about homosexuality and bisexuality in terms of various sex acts; where heterosexuality is framed more around dating, courtship, and relationships. Very few of the parents I’ve spoken with are concerned about how to introduce Mr. and Mrs. Jackson to their young children without it spiraling into a complex speculation of how the couple engages in physical intimacy. When presented with introducing a gay or lesbian couple, the sexual aspect of their relationship is suddenly a big concern for adults trying to “protect” children from being confused.

This fear of confusing children and attempt to prevent exposure to homosexuality is based largely on an assumption that a heterosexual orientation is the default, or worse…”normal”. Normal is an extremely loaded word in terms of sexuality and sexual orientation. It’s as though children are presumed to be inherently heterosexual until something magical happens during adolescence or adulthood, and they then “become” lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, or however they choose to identify.

Turns out, not so much. It’s very common for lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals to become aware of their orientation during childhood. At this stage of development, same-sex attractions are not overtly sexual in nature. They are the same expressions of schoolyard crushes that are experienced by heterosexual children. Part of talking to your child about sexual orientation is not assuming they are straight (I’ll give you a minute to process that). Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t…it doesn’t matter, the point is to make space for them regardless. So instead of telling your young son that someday he’ll have a girlfriend, simply refer to it as dating. Instead of asking your teenage niece if she has a boyfriend (which is already kind of invasive for some adolescents), ask if she is seeing anyone. Taking yourself out of the ‘hetero as a default’ lens is the first step in creating an inclusive language to use with your child.

But let’s get back to the point of this article, which is how to include sexual orientation when talking to your kids about sex, love, and relationships.

First, don’t over complicate things. Children, like my friend’s daughter, are not looking for a history of gender and sexuality as a mostly social construct; she wanted to know about the picture of two men kissing. Tell her (correctly) that it’s a picture from their wedding day. The couple is celebrating a very happy moment after being married. The end. Unless there are other questions, a very likely possibility among six year olds. Answer the question that’s being asked, with age-appropriate terms (oh, honey, they’re newly married! Like mommy and daddy or grandma and grandpa are married).

If the child is older, be prepared to possibly field more complex questions around sexuality. Their questions could be related to natural curiosity, or the youth may be questioning their own sexuality. Regardless of the motivation behind questions, consider the topic of orientation as part of a larger conversation around sexual development and building skills for healthy relationships. Conversations you’ve hopefully been having with your child since their early years. No one is expecting you to be an expert, but do reach out and find resources to fill in gaps if asked something that you don’t know how to answer. Educate yourself, so you can better educate your child. And most importantly, keep those lines of communication open. As a parent or caring adult, trust me, kiddos are looking to you for cues.

 

Dr. Jen O’Ryan has a PhD in Human Behavior and researches environmental factors that contributed to healthy development for LGBTQ youth. She helps parents and other folks become advocates for LGBTQ kids.  Visit her website here.

 

 

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“Playing Doctor” – Typical and common behaviors in kids and what to do!

If a child is playing with a friend and they engage in typical body exploration play it usually has some, if not all, of the following characteristics:

  • They are good friends and are close and regular playmates
  • Their curiosity is good humored and the kids are having fun and are happy.
  • It is mutual and they agree to play this way. There are no threats, bribery or coercion.
  • The behavior is spontaneous and happens when they are playing a game or already doing something together.

A really quick way to assess whether a behavior is typical for a kid is to ask yourself, “Is this something adults or teens would do?” If the answer is no, then it’s most likely a common kid behavior.

For example, every week my husband gets together with his fellow motorcycle maniac pals and they work on bikes, grill steaks and drink beer. Do you think my husband and his platonic friend Jon, pop off into a corner and have a Penis Meeting? The idea probably made you laugh.

This is something most guys just do not do when they platonically hang out together. And for the record, Kerry and Jon do not have Penis Meetings— I asked.

Just because these behaviors are considered a typical part of childhood development, it does not mean you allow the children to continue to play this way.

If you do not redirect their behavior:

  • The play may continue and become problematic and sexualized, because it really does feel good when someone touches their privates.
  • The children will learn it is okay to explore privates with people they know, love and trust, which will make them vulnerable and an easy target for sexual abuse.
  • They will continue to play these games with other kids and possibly perpetrate sexualized behavior with another child.

Calmly interrupt their behavior. Explain that it’s “not okay and not safe” to play this way. Remind them of your rules about bodies — private parts are private and the rule is no looking at or touching.

Most of the time they are merely curious and nothing truly abusive is going on. If you are unsure or worried, let me know and we can schedule a consultation.

More info? StopItNow.org

PS: You know I’m on a mission to help 1 Million MORE kids grow up to be healthy and whole adults, right? Be a pal and share this! Thanks!

Posted in Age Appropriate, Over-Sexualized Childhood, Parenting Tips, Playing Doctor / Experimenting, Sexual behavior | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sexuality and Relationships. What’s It All Mean for Teens, Anyway?

teen-sexual-activity

Being sexual is part of who we are as human beings—we are emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual from the moment of birth. It drives our relationships, and creates our families. It may be hard to think of your teen as sexual. Remember when you were a teen? Your teen has probably felt the rising surge of sexual desire. Sex feels good and it’s supposed to, because our main biological drive is to reproduce. Most studies show that about half of teenagers have had sex. That’s why it’s important to get this discussion going, no matter their age.

Sexual Activity – Define it and talk about being ready for engaging in sexual activity

We can all relate to those wonderful and awkward moments. Sex in particular can be very complicated and confusing. Teens are being flooded with sexuality via media and may feel they are expected to act like they completely “get it” and are ready for anything. As adults, we have a responsibility to help teens learn to navigate through the first part of their lives, including their sexual lives, in a healthy way. Talk with your teen about what sex is, why we have sex, and how to know if they’re ready for sex so they feel comfortable and make good decisions. After all, which tab fits into which slot is the easy part – it’s the relationship your teen creates that defines how your teen’s heart will feel.

Relationships Are the Container for Sexual Activity

Discuss with your teen about how sexual activity with someone automatically goes along with having a relationship with that person. One way to explain to your teen how sex is tied in with emotion is to think of the relationship as the “container” for sex. At its core, sexuality is something that is private, and constantly getting messages about what “should” be important makes it confusing to try to figure out what truly matters to your teen in a relationship. Your teen can take care of their sexuality (and their values) by creating a strong, loving, and trusting “container” to hold the memories that will last a lifetime, including memories of the first time they have sex. Talk about the difference between being in love (feeling in love) versus being emotionally ready to have sex. As adults we know, and teens need to know; you need to be physically mature, emotionally mature, and ready to handle the consequences of your actions, including talking to your partner, and confidently getting and using birth control and condoms.

Encourage your teen to think about their values

No matter what, it’s important for your teen to give these ideas some thought so they can be really clear about who they are and what their values are as they become a healthy person and a great partner to someone—whether now or in the future. The more information they have about themselves, about being safe, about healthy relationships, and about everything that can go along with dating—their sexual values— the happier they will be with their choices.

 

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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How to answer your kid’s questions about your sex life!

How to answer your kids questions about your sex life

They may ask about your sex life, so you need to be ready with an answer!

Do you want to know about your parent’s sex life? I didn’t think so!

Your kids don’t really want to know about your current sex life either. Which is good news – this means you can keep your sex life to yourself. And you have one less harrowing topic to dive into. It’s fine to be brief and then redirect them to another topic.

What to say if they ask about your sex life

If they ask if you have sex, you can simply say “Yes! I have sex, it’s a normal, fun and healthy part of being in a grown-up romantic relationship.” This all you need to say, especially if they are under the age of 9 or so. If they press for details, tell them that a person’s sex life is a private thing and you aren’t comfortable discussing yours with them.

If they ask about a particular sexual activity you can say, “Great question. There are all kinds of things people do that are sexual and this is part of a full sex life. What do you know about that (thing you just asked me about)?” You will notice I don’t actually answer the question. This is because they really don’t want to hear that you love a good round of oral sex.

If a teen is asking the questions about your sex life

Finally if your child is asking specific questions about your sex life and they are in the teen years or very close to them, you can say, “Thanks for asking me about this! You seem to have it on your mind. Tell me what you think about it.” Often they are really asking, “Is this okay for me to do or thing about or know about.” And asking you if you’ve done it, will help them sort it out for themselves.

Obviously, you are welcome to fill your kids in on your sex life. Just remember to keep in mind how you would have felt if your mom or dad told you all about their multiple orgasms and marathon sex sessions. Assuming you are lucky enough to experiencing one or both of these things.

Ultimately, this is a personal values thing – do what feels right to you.

 

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Stop waiting for your kid to ask about sex

stop-waiting-kids-ask-about-sex
Just because your child has never asked you where babies come from it doesn’t mean they don’t need to know. It’s time to stop waiting for them to ask about sex and for you to start talking. No matter how old they are. And waiting for your kids to ask about sex makes their sex ed their responsibility. It’s not. It’s yours. Sorry.

Never asking only means they never ask. Nothing more. This isn’t a free pass to skip the talks. They still need to know. So, get over your sweet self and start conversations. You drop public service announcements in the car like little sex talk infomercials.

Not sure what they need to know at each age? Check out my online class, “The Birds & Bees from Preschool to Middle School.” You can purchase it here (it’s $10 or two trips to Starbucks – just, sayin’).

How to start a sex talk

Here’s a sex talk infomercial template:

“I was just thinking…do you know what _________means? It means…”

And here are some things to bomb them with:

  • C-sections
  • Their birth story
  • Being gay
  • Adoption
  • Vulvas and other parts
  • What sexy means
  • Fellatio
  • Douche and why Amy says that it’s sexist and that it’s not okay to call anyone this ever.😉

They may not like it, but it’s so easy on YOU that it’s worth their discomfort.

Onward!

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Self Pleasure & Your Preschooler – What To Do When it Happens

Preschool-Self-PleasureIt’s completely normal for little kids to explore their bodies and touch their privates. Self-pleasure (masturbation) is one of the ways children learn about sexuality. And guess what? It feels really, really great! Young kids touch their privates because it feels good. That’s it. It’s relaxing, self-soothing and feels lovely. It is not bad, shameful or wrong.

What To Say If Your Child Is Touching Themselves

If you freak out when you catch them it tells them there is something wrong with them, their body, and you. I’m pretty sure these are three messages you would rather your child not get, ever.

To avoid this, tell the 0 to 6 year-olds “I know it feels good to touch your privates. This is something people do in private, alone. So the rule is, you can do this in your bedroom or the bathroom.”

How To Talk To Older Kids About Masturbation

Tell the 7 to 9 set “It’s totally normal to touch your privates, and the rule is you can do that by yourself, in your bedroom or bathroom.”

Over 10? “You ever heard of masturbation? It’s when you touch your penis or clitoris because it feels good. It’s totally normal to do – just do it in private. It’s normal not to do it ,too.” Then you’ll probably  need to provide some details about what happens to boys, in particular, when they masturbate and how to handle ejaculate.

If you are anti-masturbation, you are on your own. I think this is one of the healthiest and best things a person can do for themselves when it comes to sexuality.

 

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Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait!

Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait!

Dating smarts what every teen needs to date, relate or wait book

Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait is finally available in paperback! Your teen will learn about sexuality, teen dating, love, sexual decision making, healthy relationships, and a ton of other good stuff.

Make your sex talks easier!

You can make your sex talks easier if you read it yourself first and then use what you learn to start great conversations with your kids of any age! You don’t need to have teenager to put this book to work. You can use it as fodder for age appropriate conversations about these same topics with your younger kids.

If you have a teen, get two copies so you can use one to plan your amazing sex talks and your teen can learn on their own.

Buy it now!

 

Posted in Age Appropriate, Parenting Tips, Relationships, Sexual behavior, Teens, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kissing Games in Elementary School

Kissing Games In Elementary School

Kissing games can be a big part of elementary school play. These games are developmentally appropriate, but as with any game that involves some sexual experimentation, adults need to intervene and so kids can learn boundaries.

How to talk about kissing games with kids

I’ve provided some scripts for talking to kids about these kind of games in a way that’s kind and firm. Reassure the child that they are not in trouble when you talk to them. And stay calm.

Here’s the deal – I know you are curious about kissing and all that but its not really okay to play these kind of games until you are a teenager.

Sometimes, kids can get hurt because their bodies and hearts aren’t ready for this kind of thing.

Also, some kids will play these games with their friends and then play these games with an older kid or adult who knows it’s not okay for kids to be kissing. They get confused because they played with their friend.

It’s never okay to play these kinds of games with someone who is an adult or 3 years older than you. You can tell me if this happens. You won’t be in trouble and we’ll make sure they get some help.

For more great info on sexual behavior in children check out www.StopItNow.org.

 

Posted in Age Appropriate, Childhood sexuality, Playing Doctor / Experimenting, Sexual behavior | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Girls, Parenting Tips, Social Media, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment