Opinion

Spring cleaning beliefs about sexuality | Amy Johnson

It’s spring, and time for spring cleaning, so why not get rid of any old, unhealthy beliefs about sexuality? Make room for new, healthier ones! Here’s your guide for what to keep and what to toss:

Unhealthy belief: Sexuality is only about sex.

Healthier belief: Sexuality encompasses all of our sexual being — intimacy, sensuality, gender identity and sexual orientation, and sexual health. Keeping this broader perspective opens up opportunities for conversations and keeps relationships healthier and more balanced.

Unhealthy belief: I have to do whatever my partner wants to save our relationship.

Healthier belief: Talking to your partner about what you feel comfortable doing and what you are not comfortable doing is an important component of intimacy. If sexual intercourse or any sexual behavior is the price to stay in a relationship, it’s too high. Thinking about where your own boundaries are is an important component of self-worth, which is in turn a component of anyone’s healthy sexuality.

Unhealthy belief: If I don’t tell my children and teens about sexuality, they will stay innocent longer.

Healthier belief: Sexuality is a normal and natural part of being human. Some people make choices to stay healthy with their sexuality, and others don’t. If you don’t talk to your children and give them complete and accurate information about how babies are made, how pregnancy can be prevented, how diseases are spread and can be prevented, what your values are, and more, you run a great risk that they will hear inaccurate information from other sources. This can be a much more shocking end to their innocence than ongoing conversations, reading books and discussing things with mom and/or dad. Be their source for any questions they have, and lay the groundwork by showing you are approachable regarding these topics.

Unhealthy belief: I just can’t talk about it. I’m too uncomfortable. I’ll send them to class or give them a book.

Healthier belief: While both those options are good additions to talking with your child, they won’t have the same impact as swallowing your discomfort and having conversations (plural) with your child. Strive to be what The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy calls an “askable parent.” Start early and talk often.

Unhealthy belief: My kids aren’t sexually active, so this really isn’t my problem.

Healthier belief: As long as U.S. teen pregnancy rates remain the highest among developed nations U.S. teen pregnancy rates remain the highest among developed nations, we all have work to do to create healthier attitudes around sexuality. This issue affects everyone, and everyone needs to be aware and do his or her part to promote healthy beliefs and practices among children and teens.

So, go ahead, toss those old beliefs! Make room for healthier beliefs and actions that will benefit not only your family, but also our community. Happy spring!

Resources

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy: www.thenationalcampaign.org/parents

Advocates for Youth Parent’s Sex Ed Corner: www.advocatesforyouth.org (click on Parent’s Sex Ed Corner on the upper right side of the screen).

Diligent Joy Web site: www.diligentjoy.com (click on resources, and follow the links to recommended reading for parents regarding sexuality).

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