Education is not permission! Don’t you want your children to be autonomous, sexually fulfilled adults? Don’t you want your children to have successful and loving intimate relationships? Helping them to do so means being sex-positive.
The phrase “sex-positive” in association with parenting is sometimes misunderstood as taking a permissive or “anything goes” approach to sexuality. That’s simply not the case! It’s not permissive parenting; it’s an extension of overall positive parenting. It also means teaching them how to communicate, how to live without shame, to love their bodies, and how to be vulnerable. You need to nurture your child’s sexual development—from adolescence and into adulthood—by educating them to understand not only the pleasures and the dangers of sexual activity, but also how sexual activity can enhance their relationships, and help foster intimacy.
No Shame: Real Talk With Your Kids About Sex, Self-Confidence, and Healthy Relationships is a guide for parents seeking to help children through the maze of sexuality and intimate relationships. In clear, straightforward terms: my book lays the foundation for parents to help kids grow up to enjoy positive sexual experiences, and is backed by the latest research, surveys and studies of teen sexual behavior. This is a culmination of three years of writing paired with over 20 years of my experience working with children in mental health.
My book offers many tips to parents, such as, “sex-positive parenting begins before your child starts talking.” Here are ten other tips from the book:
- Start talking early and often: You need to nurture your child’s sexual development, through adolescence and into adulthood, by educating them to understand not only the pleasures and the dangers of sexual activity, but also how sexual activity can enhance their relationships, and help foster intimacy. Frequent repetition of awkward conversations means children will come to you when they really need it.
- The key to a healthy relationship is communication. Good communication allows you to impart your values to your child and helps them to in turn navigate an increasingly complicated world. It also role models how they should communicate to their future partners.
- Sex talks begin as soon as your children can talk. Sex is not something that should only be talked about once, or solely in times of crisis. What is the right age to begin to talk to your child about sex? As soon as they can speak! Starting with biology and hygiene and building to things like safety and intimacy. Otherwise, they may learn from pornography. “One great study found that 93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls viewed pornography during adolescence, suggesting that porn exposure is normative for teenagers. Only 12 percent of parents are aware of what their kids are watching.”
- The definition of family is rapidly changing. Children today are growing up in a rapidly changing world. Any type of family can raise a loving well adjusted child. As a parent, you may be single, divorced, cohabiting, or remarried. The children that you currently have may be the result of previous partnerships, adoption, or a variety of reproductive technologies. You may be in a same-sex partnership, multiple partnerships, or outside-the-box co-parenting arrangements, which are becoming more prevalent and more visible. New understandings of sex and gender, along with a range of alternative identities, have ushered in even more possibilities for relationships and families.
- Good parenting requires love, support, and setting boundaries for the child. Parents who are great role models and mentors raise successful children. Being a good role model and mentor is more important than whether the parents work outside the home, or baked homemade cookies every day.
- Anyone can take either a traditionally masculine or a traditionally feminine role when it comes to parenting. Debates rage in the media, and sometimes the courts, over whether gay and lesbian parents can be “good parents.” But every day in my practice, I see real-life examples of conscientious, loving, effective parenting by same-sex couples, and I see either fathers or mothers engaging in the opposite traditional masculine or faminine roles, all with great success.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has potential to change the world. CBT has proven valuable for troubled families marked by conflict, coercive parenting, or even physical abuse of children, as well as for children with autism, anxiety disorders, and social phobias. However, as a set of life skills, CBT has potential benefits that reach far beyond these realms. CBT is a useful tool explained in this book which has amazing potential for parents in working with their kids.
- Being an effective parent means taking into consideration other factors, such as how the fight will ultimately affect your child. When confronting the question “Is it better to be right or to be effective?” choose to be effective—every time. Sometimes you need to give up a fight when your child is watching in order to demonstrate kindness and compassion.
- As a parent, it is important to own your sexual story. Owning your sexual story is another great way to be a role model to your child. It’s not about just your past experiences, or what went wrong, or what things you regret; it’s about weaving your story into a narrative that you can rely on. Your sexual story is an amalgam of what you learned about sex from your parents, elders, and teachers, past relationships, sexual experiences, books, and everything that left an impression on you about sex.
- Provide a safe place for your teen to have sex. When you feel they are old enough and are able to understand the risks and benefits. Do not bury your head in the sand, or even force them into unsafe situations, due to your own fear of having the conversation.
Dr. Lea Lis is the ‘Shameless Psychiatrist.’ She is a double board certified Adult and Child psychiatrist, and Assistant Clinical Professor at New York Medical College. She has a bustling practice in the Hamptons where she sees patients from all family arrangements.
Her book “No Shame: Real Talk With Your Kids About Sex, Self-Confidence, and Healthy Relationships” helps people pass down intergenerational wisdom, instead of trauma, by using modern psychotherapy techniques which she perfected throughout her many years of experience. She is an expert in the field of psychology, and hopes to change the way we speak about sex.
FACEBOOK: @drlealis PSYCHOLOGY TODAY: www..psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-shameless-psychiatrist