Parents are often afraid to talk to their kids about sex. Parents are often concerned about saying too much, saying the wrong thing, being inappropriate and/or encouraging sex too early and too soon. Many parents want to protect their children from the ugly world of sex that often accompanies the idea of sex, not realizing that what you don’t talk about at home is getting into your child’s brain through other sources, whether it be via friends and peers at school, or the media. Most parents don’t realize that their silence is communication too.
Silence communicates a world of messages, including the message that sex is taboo, and should not be talked about. Punishment and silence send the wrong messages about sex. There is too much uncensored information out there to risk not talking to your kids and/or teenagers about sex.
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When we think of sex therapy we generally assume this takes place with and is for adults or couples only. But in actuality there is a gamut of information and work that can and should be done with children in therapy and in their daily lives. If you are a parent, an aunt/uncle, a much older sibling you already know that when it comes to the subject of sex and our children, we walk around on eggshells. The truth of the matter is that children are sexual beings from the very day they are born and to deprive them of sexual knowledge and their own natural expressions we do them a huge injustice, often retarding, or maiming their sexual development and growth.
We worry about overstimulation says author of Sex Therapy and Kids, Sharon Lamb. She's right, as adults we fear we are somehow being voyeuristic when we encourage kids to talk about sex. We worry that we might encourage or victimize them by educating and informing them. As educators, we worry about not having the parent's permission.
Many adults assume also that many children live in a world where they are protected from sexually explicit material. Yet, I think we know that even the most protected child is exposed to material such as TV, porn, videos of an erotic nature (such as cheerleading and music videos), video games, erotic cartoon characters and so forth. And, all of this info is confusing, yet exciting, and also can be overstimulating. Parents cannot monitor everything, but we can provide the kids with tools to make informed choices. Kids today will be exposed to a lot of sexual content, and will need help to understand/process it.
It's important also to recognize that children are sexual beings. Children explore their bodies alone and with each other. This is normal behavior and should not be shunned. I am referring here to masturbation and mutual exploration (ie playing 'doctor' or 'house'.) Please note: I am not referring to sexual play between two or more youths of disparaging age, or an adult with a child. Age is key here, a child is naturally inquisitive and curious about his/her body. An older individual should not exploit this. (This is illegal and punishable by law, and we call it sexual abuse.) It is important to know, however, that true same-age or close in age peer exploration is a part of natural and normal sexual development.
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