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What do sex and smoke detectors have in common? | Johnson
You know how they always say to change your batteries in your smoke detector when the time changes from daylight savings back to standard time?
It’s a preventative safety measure. You’re not planning to have a fire, but in the unlikely event there is one, you want to be able to get out alive, so you plan ahead and keep those batteries fresh in the smoke detector. The “change your clocks, change your batteries” thing is a reminder.
Here’s another reminder. October is National Family Sexuality Education Month. Same idea. You’re not planning for your child to be abused, or for one of them to be involved in an unplanned pregnancy, or develop an eating disorder based on distorted body image, or contract a sexually transmitted disease.
But it’s time for a conscious check-up of your family preventative safety measures so you can do all you can to make sure your child is equipped to handle things that may come his or her way.
Does your young child know the proper names for all his or her body parts, including genitalia? This is matter-of-fact information when given to a 2-year-old — just more words they are learning. It’s also empowering for them to be able to name and emphatically protect these parts from unwanted touch.
Do your children know that the private zone for kids is where their bathing suits cover and that no one else should touch anything there without a good reason? Good reasons include: helping with diaper changing or toilet needs, bathing by a parent or caregiver, and physical exams by doctors.
Do you have educational books around your home to satisfy curiosity about bodies? This can be a lifesaver if you find kids of similar age “playing doctor.” Letting them know it’s OK to be curious, but that you want them to keep their clothes on, is important. Being able to say, “We have a book you can look at if you’re curious” is even better. For suggestions of age-appropriate material, visit www.diligentjoy.com/resources.php.
Have you taken a Great Conversations class with your pre-teen? Moms go with daughters, and dads with sons. You get accurate information about puberty, growing up, decision-making, friends, and how babies are made in a playful, interactive way that sets up positive communication with you and your child about these topics. There are still spots in the Federal Way classes, Oct. 15 and 22. Sign up at www.greatconversations.com.
Have you continued to talk with your child and teen about waiting to have sex? Safety in relationships? Using protection if you know or suspect they are sexually active? Planned Parenthood has put together a great series of two-minute videos to walk you through sample conversations. Check them out at www.plannedparenthood.org/parents.
Talking about your values and expectations and listening to your child, even if you don’t agree, is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to promote healthy sexual development and healthy relationships in your child or teen. So talk today.
And don’t forget to change the batteries in the smoke detector.