Over at Think Progress, Zack Ford reports that Healthfinder.gov, a website run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has come out with a website that encourages parents to have “THE TALK” with their kids.
[The website] offers resources for parents about talking to their kids openly and honestly about their bodies and sex. HHS links readers to KidsHealth.org, which affirms masturbation, sexual exploration, and same-sex attractions in pubescent teens. The religious right, of course, refutes any such suggestions that young people have sexuality at all and condemns any form of sexual experimentation as “wrong.”
The “Birds and the Bees” talk seems like a pretty daunting task, but I have already decided that I will be open to answering just about any questions our kids might have. I would feel more comfortable discussing it with a boy, but that’s only because I know more about male maturation having experienced it first-hand.. This website looks like it will be a great resource, and there are many links to external resources, such as correct terms for body parts these communication “Dos and Don’ts” from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Listen actively.
- Make and keep eye contact.
- Look for the underlying messages in what your child is saying. What is the emotional tone or climate?
- Show respect for his ideas and feelings. Stay away from sarcasm, hurtful teasing, blaming, belittling, and fault-finding.
- Use “I” messages and avoid “you” messages and put-downs.
- Be honest.
- Be sensitive to the times and places that are good for talking. If your youngster comes home from school tired, give him some time to rest or have a snack before you communicate what may be on your mind. If you come home tired, take a rest yourself. Choose a quiet, private area in which to talk.
- Praise or reward your child from time to time when he shows good listening habits. He may be motivated to listen more carefully and follow through on what you are saying if his efforts are recognized.
I still think that there should be an extensive sexual and maturation health class in school because not every parent will talk with their kids about this stuff. This doesn’t mean I think parents should be off the hook, though, especially if they live in a state that only offers abstinence education. (Political side note: Rick Perry can’t even provide data to back up his claim that abstinence training works even though Texas has the 3rd highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation.)
I am a little leery of one statement on the site though:
Do your best to answer questions honestly and correctly. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you could say, “I’m not sure. Let’s look that up together.”
It would be prudent to make sure Safe Search is set for Google, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to clear out your history and cache before looking up some stuff. It might get a little awkward having to explain pictures like this:
One little worry in the back of my mind is how this should be approached if we foster before adopting. We would have no idea what other people have said before, and is there a boundary as to what we should be discussing with the kids? This question not only applies to sex and body changes, but also to topics like politics and religion.