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Scolding sexuality

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Parents need to rethink the way they address the topic of sexuality with their children

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We send children so many mixed messages about sex and sexuality, and then we scold them for what are essentially our own shortcomings.

Children are naturally curious about sex. Adults may not want to admit it, but sex is a normal part of life and children are going to realize that early on whether they understand it fully or not.

Parents scold children for watching porn or R-rated movies and, while it is understandable parents want to keep their children from viewing that kind of material, if we aren’t providing them with good information about sex, then the only take-away is sex is bad, which doesn’t stifle the curiosity it just make them more private about their research.

As adults we know that children aren’t able to grasp the full extent of this content. They don’t understand that porn is often degrading or problematic to women, they are just trying to learn and explore a subject that they don’t have other resources for, so we need to give them better resources.

Judy Blume is one author who has made a name for herself as writing honestly about sexuality for young readers, and her collection “Letters to Judy: What Your Kids Wish They Could Tell You” compiles some of the correspondence she has received from children to whom she is their only source of information on taboo topics.

It seems Blume would agree with me that parents are the majority of the problem when it comes to the confusion young people have about sex. Parents (and sometimes educators) go to great lengths to censor everything from children including age-appropriate discussions of sexuality.

Parents expect their children to make responsible, educated decisions about sex, but they have no information with which to make these decisions.

You wouldn’t want your child to make any other choice without all the proper information, so why would you want them to do so with sex. And if you didn’t teach them the things you want them to know about sex, then how do you expect them to be safe and responsible?

Parents can’t just assume their children won’t be curious, because they will find out some other way and the information they get could be bad. It could put them in a bad situation later and, honestly, parents have themselves to blame.

Still, most of the time parents don’t take the blame if their children become pregnant, get an STI or are emotionally distraught because of sex. Just believing because you told them not to have sex you did your part is not good enough. Children don’t always follow the rules. That is just a fact of life. You can encourage them to do or not do a lot of things, but in the end children are autonomous beings and they will make plenty of independent choices. The best you can do is steer them in the right direction and give them all the information and support they need along the way.

Sex isn’t the only thing parents keep censored from their children, but it can be one of the most damaging. Even if children aren’t having sex, they are developing into sexual beings (as is the way of the world), and so they are probably experiencing a lot of things that are new to them pretty rapidly. If they don’t feel comfortable talking to parents about it, then parents should at least make enough information available to them so they know what they are going through is normal whether they want to talk about it or not.

So, parents, get with the program. Kids are not stupid and they aren’t going to take your word for it when you say sex is bad and they shouldn’t do it. Take responsibility for your children and teach them the things they need to know to be responsible human beings.

Jocelyn Gibson can be contacted at [email protected]

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