Now. How to deal with the social repercussions of other people’s negative reactions? More often than not, it’s the fear of the UNKNOWN. How will another parent react? Be strong and resolute in your honesty. Most of the parents I’ve interacted with have had mostly positive experiences when dealing with these topics with other parents. It’s been only a handful of situations where a parent would say “Oh you totally should have made something up”. I can say, where something has been made up, there’s someone who will correct you – and it may even be another one of your children (as happened to one of my friends in “What is Sexy?” blog). It may not be now, but it most certainly will happen.
Make sure to tell your children that you have different expectations and views of sex/uality than other parents/adults/relatives. I have been clear with my children that lots of adults use little white lies to control children’s behavior (Hello? Santa Claus??). This includes sexual behavior. They know my mother thinks masturbation is what only nasty, naughty, dirty girls do so… they don’t do this around Grandma. This is no different.
One of the toughest things to do as a parent is helping our kids understand the words people use. Introduce SEX into the mix and it’s enough to make even the most talkative parent lose their words. Quite frankly, talking about sex scares a lot of parents. They wonder: What’s the right thing to say to my kid? When do I say it? Is it ok for a younger sibling to hear? Can I redirect the conversations and change the subject? How long can I change the subject? What will other parents think of me if I tell my kids the truth and then my kids tell their kids? etc etc.
It’s interesting to note that so much in the questions in the first paragraph comes from FEAR. I have to ask: What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of our children being hurt? By whom? I know I want my daughters to be happy, healthy adults and a big part of that wish is for them to be happy with their sexual lives as well. Sex is such an important part of our lives. It’s all around us everyday.
The more you (the parent) address this topic the easier it gets to talk about. Start early. Remi Newman recently wrote a blog about using the correct terminology when talking about genitals to young children. She pointed out something very important. In it she said:
One of the main reasons that parents shy away from talking to their kids about sex is because as a society we associate anything about sex and kids with sexual abuse. Parents think that they are protecting their kids by not exposing them to anything “sexual and therefore not even naming their “sexual body parts. In reality, by avoiding teaching correct terminology, a parent actually leaves their child more vulnerable to sexual abuse. By the time our babies are toddlers, we can start to teach them about privacy and how to protect themselves using the very clear language that we’ve already taught them.
Another is that kids are learning about what’s ok to talk about in public and she didn’t want to deal with situations of her child saying something about sex at the supermarket.
I’d love to see some Sexy Mama blog posts on this- What are some ways to deal with other children’s parents? What happens when your child says something in public that would be fine at home but feels embarrassing when it’s out among strangers? How do you deal with the social repercussions of other people’s negative reactions? How do you teach your child that you have different expectations and awareness about sex than lots of their friend’s parents?