This past Saturday we held a discussion time with parents to explore ways to communicate more effectively with our children about sex. We looked at sexual development throughout childhood, from birth to age 18, as a reference point to help us meet our children at their specific developmental level. We spent time discussing our own experiences learning about sexuality from our parents and other sources, noting the helpful and unhelpful aspects we encountered. For most of us the information we received was insufficient and we were left to ‘figure things out on our own.’
Our discussion’s conclusion was that as parents we want to offer more to our children regarding information and support than we received as children. Our discussion also encouraged parents to identify their values around sexuality and to consider how to communicate these values to their kids in meaningful ways. Several parents shared their struggles with helping their children engage in dialogue about sexually explicit song lyrics. There were some great ideas offered about encouraging kids to consciously engage with sexual messages in their lives rather than mindlessly consuming those messages. We discussed sexual abuse and safety in our culture and tools to reduce the chances of our children experiencing victimization. Our time ended with some takeaway tips for approaching communication around sex.
This discussion was a great way to reflect on a challenging topic. Parenting is daunting for all of us. It is such a complex and important role. Having an opportunity to sit with other parents and practice talking about sex was a great opportunity to work out parenting in community. I hope that this is the first of many discussions, not just about sex, but also about various other issues that we face as parents. We all love our kids deeply, and we need each other as a community of parents to navigate this challenging and rewarding role.
-Christine Mumbauer, reporting