Lifestyle

Your children will learn about sex | Amy Johnson

Hey, parents! Where is your child learning about sex? From you? The health teacher? Church? Peers? MTV? Google?

Chances are, it’s a combination of the above.

Here are some tips for integrating your values, as well as safety information, into your child’s education about this important topic.

What information and training do you, your child’s teachers, or your youth group leader have? Is it up-to-date? Have you or they been trained by competent professionals who are aware of current information on topics like STDs, pregnancy prevention, sexual minorities, resources and more?

Are you or your child looking at reliable, medically accurate, comprehensive information from sites like sexetc.org, goaskalice.org, thenationalcampaign.org, or plannedparenthood.org?

Do the sources of your child’s sexuality education reflect your values? For some parents, sexuality education at home, in school and in the faith community all line up, but are in conflict with much of what is portrayed in the media and myths that run rampant with youth. For others, the conflict comes with what is taught in school or church. One of the most reliable aspects of sexuality education in our country is the prevalence of contradictory messages. As a parent, it’s important to acknowledge this. Talk with your child about the mixed and confusing messages he or she is probably receiving. Help your children understand where you stand — and why.

“Just say no” isn’t enough. There’s too much information in our culture for parents to rely on this one tactic. From Victoria’s Secret and Muscle Milk advertisements to “Glee,” YouTube, middle school jokes and the Day of Silence, sexuality messages are everywhere. As uncomfortable as you may feel having these conversations with your children, it’s important that you do. They need help to filter all the confusing messages through your family values. Make a goal to have 100 one-minute conversations with your child, in addition to longer talks from time to time.

Consider the following:

• What constitutes enough/not enough education about sexuality?

• What would abundant sexuality education look like? What is too much?

Think ahead so you can adjust as your children grow and are exposed to more information.

Utilize resources that are available to you. Find out what is taught in your school. Contact Planned Parenthood, your pediatrician, the health department or me to learn what educational resources, classes, and workshops are available for parents.

Some Federal Way faith communities offer sexuality education. Find out if yours does, what it is, and if it fits with the values you hold as sacred in your home.

One thing is for sure: Your children will learn about sex. The question is, how will you help them navigate all the messages they are already receiving? Get educated, get clear and start talking — about sex.

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