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Everything You NEVER Wanted Your Kids to Know about SEX (But Were Afraid They’d Ask) – The Secrets of Surviving Your Child’s Sexual Development

“How can I give my daughter a healthy attitude toward sex but prevent her from having any?” authors Justin Richardson and Mark Schuster claim a lot of parents want to know.  And I’m definitely one of them.  What makes talking to kids so complicated, Richardson and Schuster argue, is that the universally embraced method most of our parents used – pretend it isn’t happening – doesn’t appeal to us still our kids’ sexuality makes us squeamish, even though we think it shouldn’t.

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you.  This book scares the hell out of me.  By the time I finished the first few chapters, I told my husband maybe “old school” wasn’t such a bad way to go.  For example, while logically I know Robinson and Schuster are correct when they write, “We know two things about children’s sexual development: children learn about sex from the world.  And children are inherently sexual,” I still don’t want to believe that it applies to my “innocent” daughters.

Luckily, Everything You NEVER Wanted Your Kids to Know about SEX believes parents “have a strong hand in establishing some of the basics of your child’s sexual life, like the nature of his self-esteem and the likelihood he’ll take risks with his health.  Your parenting can improve his sexual knowledge, shape his moral views, and mediate his peers’ influence over his decision making.  There’s even some evidence that you can play a role in delaying the age of his sexual initiation, improving the chance that he will use condoms, and limiting the number of sexual partners he’ll have in adolescence.”

The problem is there’s no prescribed method to make this happen.  While Robinson and Schuster believe high standards, responsiveness, monitoring, and closeness are key factors in your child’s sexuality, there are too many variables to provide a how-to on talking to your kids about sex.  Still, the authors offer thought-provoking suggestions.

Clarify your wishes for your children:

  • What is sex for?
  • How do you feel about your own sex life so far?
  • Would you like your child’s sex life to be different from yours?  How?
  • What makes for a good love relationship?  For good sex?
  • Can you describe the attitude you would like your child to have toward sex?
  • Is it acceptable to have sex outside of marriage?
  • If yes, when is the right time to begin having sex?
  • In what kinds of relationships should sex take place?
  • Do you feel the same about your daughter’s sexuality as you do your son’s?

 

Having an eight year old, I’m preoccupied with breaking the news, her inevitable “It’s gross” response, and whether or not she’ll “get it.”  Robinson and Schuster argue “while children in all cultures are thought to go through the very same process of cognitive development, and therefore theoretically should be able to understand procreation at the same rate, in some parts of the world children seem to get the facts straight much more quickly.”  North America – age eleven.  Britain – age nine.  Sweden – age seven.  It all has to do with the society’s attitude toward sex.

While the thought of telling my oldest daughter everything makes me want to cry, I took comfort in one point the authors made.  “Timing your talks about sex suddenly becomes much simpler if you accept one basic principle of how children’s minds grow.  Learning takes place at the edge of understanding…The capacity to ignore information he can’t appreciate is one of your child’s talents you can count on.”

So my next thought was then “I’ll wait until he asks,” but Robinson and Schuster reminded me that “from a pedagogical standpoint, having your child structure his own education is sort of a curious notion.”  Being a teacher, I have to agree.  I started teaching my daughter the alphabet, her numbers, even the periodic table.  Why should sex be any different?

 

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Check out Victoria Winterhalter’s other blog, Befriending Forty (http://befriendingforty.blogspot.com) Today’s post looks at how best to measure one’s success in life.

Victoria Winterhalter

Victoria Winterhalter

Victoria Winterhalter is a mother, teacher, reader, and writer on the education and environment beats for RFM. She has been with RFM since its founding in 2009 and has contributed photos and written numerous articles on education, parenting, and family travel.

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