3 Important Sex Positive Parenting Lessons
We’ve talked to hundreds of moms, and we know how difficult it can be to practice sex positive parenting. It can be uncomfortable to talk to our children about things deemed to be awkward, taboo, or that we didn’t have the experience of discussing openly in our own childhood.
Some parents feel uncomfortable discussing sexuality with their kids, either because of their own hang-ups or because they worry that it might encourage their children to become sexually active at a young age. It’s normal to want to protect your kid’s innocence for as long as possible, and “sex talks” might sometimes seem like a threat to that. However, research shows that children who receive early sex education have better boundaries and engage in sexual activity later than peers who receive no such education.
In this blog, we invite you to open your mind, put aside any reservations that you might have, and get comfortable with the idea of discussing sex with your kids. Here are three crucial sex-positive parenting lessons to keep in mind.
1. Communication is key
One of the most important things you can do as a sex-positive parent is to communicate openly and honestly with your children about sex and sexuality. This can be difficult for many parents, particularly if they grew up in a culture where sex was seen as taboo or shameful. However, by making a conscious effort to start "the Talk" with your children, you can help them feel comfortable and confident when it comes to their own bodies and desires.
This "talk" should begin as early as possible. It often begins with anatomy lessons during toddler years and learning about consent at early childhood age. Once your child reaches the next childhood stage, certain topics are added according to their age and level of development.
You may find that your child has questions you simply aren’t prepared for—that’s fine, normal, and nothing to worry about. You can’t be a fountain of knowledge on every subject, and you should use professional resources to your advantage if you are coming up short.
It’s better to seek out accurate answers and ask if you don’t know. It’s okay to say “I don’t know the answer to that, but I’m going to find out and get back to you.” This is a behavior we should try and model for our children, especially when it comes to important topics like "sex".
Thankfully, we’ve put together Yoni Magic, a 10 Sex Ed book series to put empowering education directly into parents’ hands. This series includes a variety of topics from natural wonders of female and male anatomy to gender identity and diversity that were written and illustrated in a shame-free format.
2. Have a plan to talk about Conception & Consent.
These are essential conversations to have. But, these are topics that parents may struggle to broach with their kids. Trust me, though, they will be better for it if you have an open and honest dialogue about these topics!
A. Covering conception (a.k.a. Where do babies come from?)
This is probably one of the first conversations many parents will have with children when it comes to sex. It often comes up with younger children when they find out that new siblings are on the way or when they just get curious about ‘where do babies come from?’
It’s important to keep the language simple (eggs, sperm, etc.), factual (no stork!), and age-appropriate. The conservation will grow as they do. Of course, there is more to sex than making babies and eventually, they will learn this too.
Kids develop at different rates, so a good rule of thumb is to let your child steer the conversation. If they ask questions, answer honestly. If they ask follow-up questions, continue answering honestly until they seem satisfied or ‘full’ of information. You don’t want to confuse them with myths and lies, but you also don’t want to overload them with too much information. Generally, when kids have enough info, they stop asking questions and move on to a new topic or activity.
||Learn more on this article: Dear My Little Yoni: How do I Explain where Babies come from?|
B. Discussing Consent
Consent requires all people involved to agree to participate in an activity together. Tell your kids consent is clear and communicated with words. Before touching anyone, they need to learn to ask permission, and if someone says no or is silent, then it is not okay to touch them.
||This also means that they should speak up if someone touches them without permission. Explaining consent in a way that’s easy for them to understand will help solidify these concepts. Check out this article, explaining consent for kids.|
Remember: This isn’t a one-time conversation, but a conversation you will continue to have and reinforce over the coming weeks, months, and years.
3. Challenge gender stereotypes
Finally, as a sex-positive parent, it's important to challenge gender stereotypes and help your children develop a broad, inclusive understanding of sexuality.
How gender stereotypes affect children
Gender stereotypes teach children to learn about what is ‘normal’ for boys and girls. Gender stereotypes put pressure on children to conform and fit into these assumptions. This means they are limited from doing things they might enjoy because they are perceived as “girly” or “boyish”. This affects children’s choices for toys, subjects at school, and careers.
Girlguiding Scotland's recent report found that 62% of girls want to be a leader in their job, but 45% thought this would be harder because they are a girl. Research shows that gender stereotypes perpetuate inequality. And we know that gender inequality leads to violence against women.
Instead of talking about the negatives of gender stereotypes, you can talk about the positives of gender-friendly play. It is about letting children explore, express themselves and play without limits! It is fun and builds confidence, and children enjoy it!
By doing so, you can help your children feel empowered to explore their own desires and identities, without feeling limited by outdated stereotypes or societal expectations.
Remember: The most important thing to do when it comes to this sensitive discussion is to let your child lead the discussion. By positioning your child as the commander of the conversation, you can let them lead the way, so they can set healthy boundaries in terms of what they’re willing to talk to you about. This can help to ease the awkwardness and help them to feel more in control of the discussion, which may make them more receptive to what you have to say.
And that’s what you want when you’re being a sex-positive parent.