Awesome Parenting in the Digital Age -Sex Ed Tips Part 1

By:  Tracy Bennett, PhD

Part 1 of a 4-Part Series:

Parents are so uncomfortable teaching sex ed that they simply put it off until…forever. Or they hand the kid a book or expect the school or peers to handle it. This leaves kids uninformed, hungry for knowledge, and vulnerable. With unfiltered access to the Internet, kids are being groomed to be customers with graphic pornographic video expertly modified to capture the viewer. Do you really want your child captured by porn? Or worse yet, a sexual predator? GetKidsInternetSafe was developed to solve exposure problems that are reaching epidemic proportions. Our best line of defense is good parenting This program assures your bases are covered! Today’s article is about child and parent empowerment through education and cooperative communication.

Learning about sexuality is a lifelong process that starts as soon as you become aware of yourself as an independent being. A comprehensive knowledge allows us to make healthy decisions about our bodies and intimate relationships. As I mentioned last week, school and the Internet should not be your child’s sole resources for sexual education. Do your best parenting by providing your kids with a positive and factual view about sexuality by covering these sexual education tips. If you model healthy dialogue early, then your kids will come to you for answers!

This week I surveyed my university students about sexual education in the home. Despite the fact that it is commonly known that sex ed is important for healthy development, only one male student in my class said he had been educated about sexuality by his parents! And even then, he elaborated that the education was one quick conversation clouded in discomfort. More female students reported they received in-home sexual education, but most said it was primarily about puberty and menstruation and that sexuality issues were discussed with more fear-based content than education-based content. They were in enthusiastic agreement that kids need far more than that to develop a healthy self-identity, especially with so much unfiltered sexual content readily available on the Internet.

As always, I trust you to custom fit my suggestions into your family with your best judgment. Families and children are unique, and nothing guides better than parental instincts. Below are the first 5 sex ed tips in my 4-part series “Awesome Parenting in the Digital Age – Sex Ed Tips”. Hold on to your hats moms and dads, this is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting but also one of the most important!

5 Things to Avoid When Teaching Sex Ed to Your Kids!

  1. Silence: Choosing to stay silent and avoid sexual education may cause confusion and shame for your child, which is more likely to lead to later hang-ups about sexuality and irresponsible sexual choices. Being an awesome parent means doing what’s best for your child, not making yourself most comfortable by avoiding the issue.?
  2. Leaving it up to same-gender parent only: Both moms and dads should provide education to both sons and daughters. It’s important for them to hear from both perspectives, and they may relate to one parent’s communication style better than the other. Model open dialogue and educated problem solving and start when they’re young! ?
  3. Limiting content to the technicalities: Instead of just talking about sex ed mechanics, incorporate family values and beliefs into the discussion. Be persuasive rather than demanding. Your children will learn important skills AND learn content, all the while feeling that they are part of the perspective-taking rather than coerced into it. Eye-rolls aside, kids generally adopt their parents’ values. The more complex their understanding, the more comfortable they will be with making firm, and sometimes unpopular, positions.?
  4. Using the opportunity to establish authority: Don’t be intrusive or demand disclosure from your children. Your objective is to educate and encourage cooperative dialogue, not scare your children or exert your parental authority. You’re not their friend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be warm, open, and encouraging. Being heavy-handed with your control issues will drive them away rather than into the family support system.?
  5. Being rigid and lecturing: Avoid uninformed, strict, and inflexible standards. It’s perfectly acceptable to explore issues prior to sharing your position. It’s also OK to disagree. Give your children time to develop a perspective rather than demand adoption of yours.

Phew! I know this is scary stuff, which is why I wrote it! I encourage you to think about it, discuss it, and decide for yourself what is best your family. I read the list aloud to my kids and husband, and I have to admit, watching my husband’s reaction was pretty funny. It sparked lots of good questions from the kids and, later, an awesome collaboration with Dan. It honestly made us feel great knowing we are arming the kids with education in preparation for a world that is not always so friendly.

I’m the mom psychologist who will help you GetYourKidsInternetSafe.

Onward to More Awesome Parenting!

© 2014 Tracy S. Bennett, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.  Original article:  5 Things to Avoid When Teaching Sex Ed to Your Kids! Part 1 of a 4-Part Series: “Sex Ed Tips For Awesome Parenting in the Digital Age”

Here’s an article from a health care provider who works with teens expressing real concern about how abstinence-only sexual education isn’t working AND provides excellent resources: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/03/02/getting-serious-about-sex-education/

Tracy Bennett, PhD.

Tracy Bennett, PhD.

Mom, Clinical Psychologist, CSUCI AdjunctFaculty at GetKidsInternetSafe
Dr. Bennett is a grateful and happy mother of three, a clinical psychologist, and a university professor at CSUCI. Upon successfully managing Internet safety issues in her practice, she created www.GetKidsInternetSafe.com. Her passion is working with parents and kids to build a loving and trusting alliance and changing the world for the better.
Tracy Bennett, PhD.

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