Nov 11, 2019

Should Parents Talk to Their Teens About Sex?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of both books mentioned in this post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links are also used in this post. You can read my full disclosure here.


Yes

Parents need to be talking to their tweens and teens about sex.


Why Tweens?

The reason I include tweens is because I hit puberty when I was in the 3rd grade, before it was even taught in schools. The worst part was it happened at camp. 

I was shy, or so I always told shy, but the truth was I probably had social anxiety even back then and was too scared to talk to anyone about what was happening. I used toilet paper and went through all my underwear. Even when I got home, I didn't say anything, just threw it in the wash in hopes that it was done and over with and everything would be alright.

The next thing I remember is my mom taking me to the doctor because she had found my dirty underwear. The doctor explained that it was most likely my first period (which I didn't really understand or know what that was, but it sounded normal so I was okay with that). It was another 2 months before it happened again, and this time my mom had provided pads and thus I entered womanhood. 

It wasn't until 4th or 5th grade that I got any sex education in school, but many schools wait till as late as 7th grade, which is late for many girls and leads to the first reason why parents need to talk to their kids about sex.


Reason 1: Schools Wait Too Late

As I mentioned in my personal story, I hit puberty before it was even taught in school, and my parents also failed to prepare me for what was to come. It was a scary experience as I had no idea what was happening with my body and I went through it alone. 

It would have been nice to have known beforehand what changes I would experience so I wouldn't have been so blindsided, and even nicer had someone explained a bit more than just here's some pads, you're going to bleed once a month now, welcome to womanhood. 


Reason 2: Sex Education in Schools Isn't Always Reliable

The number one reason and main reason parents need to talk to their teens about sex is because many schools only teach abstinence-only. This was especially true when I was growing up and it failed me.

I remember the videos of the body changes and discussing body parts and puberty, but no teacher actually taught or showed us how to use a tampon, so of course, a condom was out of the question. I think one teacher even told us to just "follow the package instructions."

Then, of course, there was the scare tactic of STDs and showing us real-life images. Basically, they did whatever they could to prevent us from having sex, rather than telling us or showing us how to have sex. 

So sadly, most of what I learned about sex was through friends, movies, and yes, porn And as we most of us know, these are not the best resources. 

Because of my lack of education, I was easily manipulated by an older guy when I was 18. I shared my #MeToo story last year, which you can read here. And because of that experience, I was more cautious when it came to sex and have only ever been with my husband.

It wasn't until I became a parent myself that I began to look into "healthy sex" as I don't want my daughter to experience what I had, which is where Shafia Zaloom's new book, Sex Teens, & Everything in Between, came to the rescue.


Talking to Teens About Sex


Sex Teens, & Everything in Between



Sex Teens, & Everything in Between by Shafia Zaloom is a must-read for every parent. Heck, even as an adult, I learned a lot from this book. 
Her book focuses on consensual and ethical sex (healthy sex), which is what I believe all sexual experiences should be. A lot of people like to make consent seem easy with "no means no" and "yes means yes," but there's more to it. Like I used to believe my first sexual experience, no penetration, was consensual because I did agree, but I was coerced into agreeing and the guy was older, so it actually wasn't consensual. 

Zaloom provides excellent tips throughout her book on how to talk to teens about sex. I love that she also includes examples and real stories to show what healthy and unhealthy sex looks like. Though the book is geared towards helping parents talk to their teens about sex and consent, I feel teens would benefit from reading this book on their own too. For a more teen-centered book, I highly recommend Planned Parenthood's book, In Case You're Curious, which I will discuss next.

I would have loved to have Zaloom as a teacher when I was growing up. Unfortunately, that time has passed for me, but now with the help of her book, I can be the teacher I needed for my daughter. I know sex education has changed in many schools from what it was when I was a kid, but I also know many still stick by their abstinence-only programs, so I can't trust the school system to prepare my daughter for healthy sexual relationships.

In Case You're Curious


Planned Parenthood's new book, In Case You're Curious, is aimed at teens, but I learned some new things myself from reading this book, mainly because as I mentioned above, schools didn't (and many still don't) like to talk about sex when I was growing up. 

In Case You're Curious goes through commonly asked sexually related questions by teens. Questions are unaltered to keep it authentic, so slang is used. Though it answers a ton of questions, like:
"What's an orgasm?"
"How long do periods last?" 
"Do babies come out of the butt?"
"How do I tell my family I'm a Lesbian?"

The book does not answer everything and encourages teens to talk to a trusted adult should they have any questions not addressed or want to discuss more of what they have read. There is also a list of trusted websites towards the end of the book that teens and parents can both visit for more information.

While there is a whole chapter devoted to questions about consent, it doesn't touch on ethics. So while this book is great at answering sex-related questions, I would still recommend Shafia Zaloom's book, Sex, Teens, & Everything in Between for teaching teens about and how to have a healthy sexual relationship.

You can find both of these books in my Amazon Shop.


28 comments:

  1. I do think it is important to discuss this. Nowadays the kids are maturing at a faster rate than my time and I did get some education for it thankfully.

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    1. Agreed. I work on a 7th/8th grade (so 12-13 year olds mostly) campus and I found a USED condom on the ground near the back door where I enter every day (I'm a lunch lady).

      A USED CONDOM.

      Well, at least they were wrapping it up?

      But it's not uncommon to walk past teenagers who are stuck together like glue. My coworker was going out to her car for a smoke (we're technically a drug/tobacco free campus, but it's not really enforced for either staff or students) one day and was walking over to this couple in the parking lot to tell them to get their butts to class. They were not only glued together at the lips, but the boy had his hand ALL the way down his girlfriend's pants like up to the armpit. It was pretty clear what they were doing. She was furious and dragged both their butts to the principal because DAMN.

      My son (who is 15, almost 16) has a "girlfriend" but he's autistic so "girlfriend" takes on a different meaning to him. This girl (who is neurotypical) decided in 3rd grade that he was cute and he needed protection from the assholes, so she decided he was her "boyfriend" and that was that. They don't see each other outside of school (which is fine with me anyway) but when they're at school, they are stuck together at the hip almost, one normal sized pea and one very TALL pea (because my son is over 6 ft tall and not even finished growing yet) in the same pod. She protects him from the assholes and gets on his ass (when he's not getting on his own ass) when he fucks up and gets lazy in class.

      His "girlfriend" also has a twin sister (who is disabled). Son told me the other day he wants to marry both of them. I said 'No no. That's called bigamy..and it's illegal. You can marry ONE of them. HOWEVER, if the other one you're NOT married to wants to live with you, then fine. What y'all do behind the closed door of your bedroom is your own damn business. Because I don't want or need to know."

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  2. Such a great post, yes parents should speak to their children about sex, especially in todays world. It should not be down to the school to educate

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  3. Kristine Nicole AlessandraNovember 12, 2019 at 7:41 PM

    I think teaching sex education to the kids should start at home. It will be easier for the child to ask questions and get the answers they need.

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  4. In the book "The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality" which can be found on Amazon, it's recommended that when children go to public school that parents begin discussions at age 7. We homeschool so we were able to wait much longer, thankfully.

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    1. I personally don't recommend religious books as most of those only teach abstinence and shy away from the importance of safe, consensual, and ethical sex. Mainly because most religions frown upon sex before marriage, but I personally believe you can have healthy sexual relationships before marriage. I know this probably sounds strange as I have only ever been with my husband, but we didn't wait till our wedding night.

      That said I think 7 is a good age to start as some girls start early and I know I would have loved to have had the conversation before it happened, rather than after the matter. Not necessarily talking about sex, but body changes.

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  5. I think its definately on the parents not the school , however after raising teenagers sometimes kids feel uncomfortable talking to their parents.

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    1. While I agree the parents are primarily responsible, many parents shy away from talking to their kids about sex or think if they don't talk about it, it won't happen. So schools still need to teach sex ed, but not the way they currently are. Consent needs to be part of it as well as teaching kids how to have safe and healthy sex. Telling teens not to do it, isn't the answer. We were all teens once, it should be known that abstinence only does not work.

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    2. Agreed. I know I never talked to my parents about that stuff.

      However, because I have an autistic teen, I'm kind of lucky that he has zero filter between his brain and his mouth. So if he's thinking about something, it comes straight out. No question is too awkward, no subject too taboo. If he's thinking about sex, I KNOW he's thinking about it because he talks to himself and I hear him discussing it with himself.

      It's kind of weird and good and sad a little bit all at the same time.

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  6. Definitely yes. Talk to children about it, and probably girls should be taught earlier since some start periods as early as 8 or 9! Boys should definitely be taught about periods too (as well as consent) because as a girl, the boys were sent out while we were taught and to the boys, we were "dirty" on our periods because that's how the teachers sort of portrayed it.

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  7. Yes and I think at school they should have special lessons about this subject. This kind of talk would prevent so many girls from getting pregnant at a very young age!

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    1. Many schools only teach abstinence only, which is the problem. Teens need to be taught how to have safe sex and also the importance of consent. Only 8 states require consent to be taught in schools, that means many teens don't truly understand what consensual sex is. Especially since many parents shy away from the topic of sex and don't want to have these conversations with their children, which is a shame. As parents, we need to be talking to our kids about sex, that's just part of the job of being a parent.

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  8. Totally agree with you that talking to our kids about sex is so important. Thanks for the book recs. Not looking forward to this in the future, but it is so important!

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  9. I would much rather my kids learn about sex from me instead of from other kids or school. That is a topic that shouldn't be outsourced.

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  10. It's a delicate thing, talking about sex with children. The difficulty lies in everyone is different we all mature at different rates both physically and mentally. Some girls develop a lot sooner, like you did. Where as I developed later, I was in the 6th grade when I got my first period and already had some basic knowledge of puberty and sex. It is a topic that most definitely needs to be talked about, and a one-size fits all course in school isn't the best. I'm not looking forward to this with my own daughter, but I am thankful that I have years to prepare for it and not have her go through it alone.

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    1. Yes, while I agree parents should be the ones having these conversations, in my experience, parents don't want to and many don't or assume schools will do it. So I do still believe schools need sex education and they need to address it sooner. Schools also need to improve their education programs to include consent and safe sex, rather than abstinence only.

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  11. My children are still very young so I know I have a good while before I need to talk to them about sex. BUT I know it needs to be done before middle school. The world is just a different place now compared to when I was younger. I will def keep these books in mind.

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  12. That's a very informative post. Talking about sex with kids is really very important now days.

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  13. I think it's important for parents to speak with their children about sex. Start with age appropriate conversation and continue it ever so often. You want your kids to be comfortable with coming to you. Plus, you don't want them learning the wrong things from friends or the internet.

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  14. This is very important. Yes of course sex should be talked about with kids, and good on you for promoting this xx

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  15. This is a very important topic and should be discussed earlier instead of later. Thank you for the valuable resources and for writing about a topic that is often taboo.

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  16. I definitely agree they should talk about it-- i can imagine it's super awkward and I dont actually want to have the conversation but I think it is helpful and important to teach before it happens.

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  17. It is important to talk to our kids about things before they hear about it from other places. Otherwise they learn things incorrectly or it is just a bad situation.

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  18. I agree that parents need to talk with their children and not rely on school to provide the only education of sex.

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  19. Oh yes, they should. Parents should be first to teach their kids sensitive matters as that because if they don't, kids will learn it outside there the bad way. It's actually great to see how much parents are on the forefront to teach their kids these days.

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  20. It might be an awkward thing to discuss with kids but I believe guidance is still the best key for a better adult, and so I believe we should talk.about it with our kids but on the right moment in time.

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  21. Great book recommendation. I personally, think that parents should talk to their kids about sex regardless how awkward it is. If they don't who should.

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  22. yes they should start at a young age

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