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PARENTS: How to speak to your kids about sex and puberty

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We need to walk alongside them and begin to communicate a vision of human sexuality that places sex and puberty within its proper context.
We need to walk alongside them and begin to communicate a vision of human sexuality that places sex and puberty within its proper context.

By Karen Doyle

Our children are growing up in the most hyper-sexualised, pornified and confusing moment in human history.

Wherever they turn they are inundated with sexualised themes and messages about the human body, sexual intimacy and even the very meaning of sexuality itself.

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You only have to spend a few moments trying to choose a family movie on a streaming service to realize just how depraved things have become.

Often, even despite our best efforts, our children can be exposed to this content on a regular, even daily, basis.

That is why now more than ever as parents we need to be having regular conversations with our children.

We need to help them to learn how to deconstruct the messages they are so constantly presented with.

We need to walk alongside them and begin to communicate a vision of human sexuality that places sex and puberty within its proper context.

So much of the sex education that is occuring in schools focuses only upon the mechanics of reproduction and the basics of anatomy.

“It can be a struggle to find the time … However, research consistently shows that parents are cited by young people as the preferred source of information about issues relating to their development.”

As parents and educators we need to begin presenting a new and much more expansive vision for our kids.

It’s the vision that puberty and the meaning of our bodies is not just about the mechanics of sex. It is the vision that our bodily creation in the image of God is about so much more.

It is about providing our children with an education in the truth about human and divine love. Most importantly, as parents you are positioned as the primary educators of your child to be the best possible people to provide this sort of education

A challenge for so many parents is simply not knowing where to start. They don’t know what to say, when to say it and how to say it in a way that connects with their kids and in a way that builds an ongoing conversation.

“A CHALLENGE FOR SO MANY PARENTS IS SIMPLY NOT KNOWING WHERE TO START. THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO SAY, WHEN TO SAY IT AND HOW TO SAY IT IN A WAY THAT CONNECTS WITH THEIR KIDS”.

Also, it can be a struggle to find the time and right moment to have these important conversations. However, research consistently shows that parents are cited by young people as the preferred source of information about issues relating to their development.

And parents say that despite feeling uncomfortable they still prefer to be the primary educators of their children in this sensitive and important area.

Despite the challenges that parents can face in talking with their children about human development and sexuality, it is worth keeping one important truth in mind:

If you are not having these conversations with your child then someone or something else will be.

These days, that something is usually the Internet. And the Internet is full of distorted and often diabolical portrayals of the human body and human sexuality.

Over many years at Choicez Media we have had the privilege of delivering parent puberty information evenings and related seminars to live audiences across Australia and around the world.

These seminars and events help parents and their children explore the important topics of sex, sexting, healthy relationships, puberty education, pornography, consent and much more.

As a result, we have had a front row seat in the lives of many families and the challenges they face in seeking to provide a holistic, healthy and holy formation for their children.We have seen what works and what does not.

Here are some basic insights into how to begin these conversations with your child.

“You are the best person to be providing an education in love to your child, not the school, not the government but you as a parent.”

Introducing the conversation:

  • Set aside some dedicated time each day to talk to your child just to build relationship
    and connection.
  • Find out what they already know.
  • Ask about their relationships.
  • Listen to whatever they want to share.
  • Expect to be shocked by what you might hear, but remember to stay calm.
  • Position the conversation within the context of an education in love. An education in love is about introducing concepts one building block at a time. For information on how to do this visit www.choicez.com.au for parent resources.

Opportunities to start the conversation:

  • When someone you know is pregnant.
  • When there are ads about feminine hygiene products, birth control, etc.
  • When topics about sex, love relationships come up in movies or on TV shows
  • When they see unrealistic portrayals of bodies on social media.

Parents as first educators:

  • You are the first educator of your child. You are the best person to be providing an education in love to your child, not the school, not the government but you as a parent.
  • You, better than anyone else, know when your child is emotionally ready to receive information.
  • Talk early and often.
  • Be accurate and direct in your language. Give the facts as best as you can.
  • Use correct terms for body parts.
  • More than just talk, listen to what they have to say.
  • Reassure them that no question is too awkward or embarrassing.
  • Tell them you will always answer their questions honestly.

If you would like to know more about the Things are Changing puberty education resource
please visit www.choicez.com.au.

Karen Doyle and her husband Jonathan are the founders of Choicez Media and have been serving Catholic schools for two decades. Based in Canberra, their resources are used globally .Karen is also on the board of the Catholic Women’s Network and works extensively with women seeking to live their Catholic vocation fully.

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