Parent Sex Education Workshop

Last night I attended an absolutely fantastic workshop for parents about teaching kids about sex and sexuality. My expectations were not very high – or, more specifically, I didn’t have any expectations. But I left feeling educated and empowered.

The woman running the workshop has a lot of experience and background on this topic and clearly did a ton of research. We were all there to help review the workshop, provide feedback on the content, and have a general discussion on the topic. We probably helped her out a little, but we all left feeling like we got so much valuable insight and education.

It’s a topic that is pretty taboo in our culture. As the presenter mentioned, using the words “kids” and “sex” in the same sentence makes many of us cringe. It’s not a workshop I would have signed up for myself — after all my kid is only seven! But this is a workshop that is going to be offered to parents of preschoolers (among many other parents as well). After listening to what this woman had to say, starting early makes complete sense.

The idea that we sit with our kids on one big day to talk about the “birds and the bees” is an intimidating and antiquated idea. In reality, these conversations start very early and are short discussions that happen constantly throughout a child’s life. Being able to start these conversations at an early age sets a precedent that it’s okay to ask your parents these questions.

The other point that resonated with me is: we need to know what we ourselves believe about sex. When she put this question forward, I was unsure. Nothing really came to mind as it’s not something I think about very often. Once she started asking questions, I realized I do have some pretty strong beliefs in this area.

In order to teach our children about sex (or about anything), we need to understand what our beliefs are, remind ourselves of our own history and how it has affected our beliefs, and provide information that is age-appropriate and also appropriate for a particular child’s disposition and emotional capabilities. We can think back to our own childhood and determine what our parents did to help us – what things we want to continue and what we want to do differently.

We discussed so many topics, that it would be hard to cover here, but they varied from young kids discovering their body parts, naming body parts appropriately, masturbation, the extremely important idea of consent, puberty, gender roles, different types of families, and sex in the media (by the way, once I know where and when this workshop is offered, I will let you know – I highly recommend it for any parent).

Consent is something that I am really interested in teaching my son. One thing the presenter mentioned that really stuck with me is that children need to be able to say no to adults in certain situations and that is okay. Whether it is giving grandma a kiss, having their picture taken, or hugging an uncle good night. To make children feel like they have to provide these kinds of affection because otherwise it might “make someone feel bad” may give a child the message that they cannot say no to adults or to their peers. I’ve always allowed my child to choose whether he wants his picture taken or hug or even say hi to an adult, but I always felt a bit of guilt due to social pressure. This piece of advice reminded me that there are other reasons for allowing kids to choose. The idea of consent becomes so important in relationships down the road.

Another aspect of the talk that resonated with me was the idea of secrets vs surprises. Secrets are something you keep from someone forever and surprises are eventually revealed. This helps me explain to my son why secrets are not a good thing for adults and children to have (which is how sexual predators often operate).

Finally, an important question was asked. What are your goals for your kids? By considering this end goal, conversations about sex and sexuality become more positive and focused.

What struck me most about this workshop (besides the fact that this very important topic is rarely discussed) is how gathering together as a community and having these difficult, yet important conversations, makes us feel united and empowered. It allows us to discuss particular scenarios in a comfortable setting, it gives us people to continue conversations with in the future, and it brings about varying types of people with different kinds of families points of view. It was a lot of fun – we ate good food, laughed a lot, and taught each other so many things.

No matter what the subject matter, whether it is money or sex or even the most mundane of topics, having conversations in a small group setting (perhaps with a leader to help focus and provide guidance) is something I want to try and do more often. It was sort of like my own mini 4-hour Chautauqua.

I’d love to see a similar workshop on discussing finances with kids. This is another topic that is confusing for parents to navigate. Perhaps I’ll even feel motivated enough to create one myself.

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Sara September 27, 2013, 1:58 pm

    Yes, please do share info on this workshop! I’ve been trying to figure out how to start having these conversations with my kids who are 8 and 5.

    Also, I have been involved with Junior Achievement, based in Denver, which brings financial literacy into classrooms. They provide the materials and curriculum and look for volunteers to instruct. I’ve done both first and second grade so far, so can only speak for the curriculum for those grades. I wish it was more in depth, but the program is a great starting point for parents who choose to take it further. https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-usa/home

    Reply
    • Mrs. MM September 27, 2013, 2:05 pm

      I will make sure to share the info – I’m glad to hear that some people are interested. And thanks for the info on Junior Achievement – I will definitely check it out!

      Reply
  • Amber September 29, 2013, 2:17 pm

    I would love to go to a workshop like this, it sounds amazing. This is so timely. Last night I was changing my 14 month old and my 4.5 year old was looking at her, she wanted to know exactly what all her parts were so I was explaining the difference between vulva, vagina, etc. I am so amazed at how many of my mom friends find this inappropriate. I’ve tried to do research about the best way to educate my girls, but going to a workshop where someone has done a lot of that already would be great. We like the books, “it’s not the stork” and “it’s so amazing” about sex and bodies.

    Reply
  • Mira September 29, 2013, 3:27 pm

    Hi Mrs MM! I like the idea that you’re starting a new conversation on this blog. I love the main MMM blog as the ideas resonate deeply and I think it would be fun and engaging to hear your side of things, not so money-based. I liked your posts on eliminating lady temptations/avoiding retail therapy. Forget the naysayers as they are a constant, I support you writing this blog and delving into some other ideas.

    Reply
  • Hamster October 1, 2013, 9:16 pm

    I also strongly second the recommendation of ‘It’s not the stork’ for early school age kids and some more mature or inquisitive pre-k kids as a great general introduction to reproduction/sexuality. As a pediatrician, that’s the book I recommend to my patient’s families. Very accessible for kids and written with the input of lots of great minds in this area.

    P.s. just noticed today that you have your own blog. I’ve been hanging out on the Mr’s blog for a while. Good stuff.

    Reply
  • AG October 7, 2013, 1:35 pm

    I ran across your blog through some finance links and thought this discussion was interesting. As a father, it’s a very odd conversation but I know has to be done. Thankfully, I have a wife who can help with this conversation! We were given some materials to help with the topic. It is called Passport 2 Purity and based on the tittle, I’m assuming you can guess that it’s a conversation tied to faith and waiting for your first encounter, but from what I’ve seen of it thus far it does talk about the various aspects and parts, so it’s not a conversation about STD’s or Storks. I’m happy about that as our goal with our 3 kids is not to manipulate them to take a specific course of action but educate them with the appropriate timing.

    I really don’t want our kids learning this stuff from their peers or from sources that want to portray a specific bent without a vested interest in their future.

    This may be a good topic for my next Ignite Denver talk!

    Here’s a link to the last one if you are interested, I figured you may be since the topic was teaching kids about money:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzoUCMKwoG8

    Thank you for starting the conversation on this very touchy subject…

    Reply
  • Rebecca October 23, 2013, 9:43 am

    I would like to hear more about your strategy and theory of letting your son choose when/if he wants to give or receive hugs, kisses, greetings, etc. It does make sense but I wonder how difficult this is in a culture where the opposite is the norm. “Give grandma a hug goodbye.” I imagine family/adults would be insulted that your child doesn’t want to say hello or be hugged. Do you have to explain to everyone?

    Thanks for the post! Keep it up! I just found your blog via a tweet by MrMM that mentioned you! I didn’t know you had a twitter, then after I followed, I discovered your secret blog! :P

    Reply
    • Mrs. MM October 24, 2013, 9:23 am

      That’s a good question. We have a very understanding family and I also have an autistic nephew, so our family does not feel insulted if a child does not want to say hello or be hugged. In other situations, I just tell people that I don’t force him to say or do something if he’s not comfortable or that it takes him time to warm up. People seem to understand that. I’ve seen other parents struggle with this with their child where it becomes a battle to make the child be polite. I usually step in and say something to them so they don’t feel like their child has to thank me or say goodbye or whatever.

      I don’t think you need to explain beyond just saying sorry and let them know that he will hug or say goodbye when he feels comfortable.

      I also usually ask my child if he would like to hug an adult (he sometimes wants to, but doesn’t tend to run up to people and just hug them). If he says yes, then great! If he says no, then I don’t force him.

      We also sometimes do group hugs (I hold my son and hug someone, so we’re kind of all hugging). That also helps in strange situations.

      Reply
  • Melissa April 16, 2014, 10:53 am

    Hi MrsMM
    Wow that was a good article. I am going to have my husband read it too. I would really benefit from a class like that. I think I’m inconsistent but I’ve broached the topic already with my 5 yr old. I’m on the other side my son is extremely comfortable with people sometimes I feel to much. Maybe its because I have antiquated views or maybe it’s because I was abused as a child but either way I am super afraid about something like that happening to any of my kids. Do you think you can go more in depth about the consent. I don’t want to make my som scared but I am so it’s hard. Also is there anyway to send you a private message.. I have an off topic question about blogging and I thought you might have some good insight since you pretty much set up mr.mm.

    Reply

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