As a health teacher I have become the neighborhood “go-to” for questions and conversations about difficult parenting and care-giving conversations that need to be had with tweens and teens but still remain awkward. I don’t mind embracing that role. After all, I’ve been teaching health education for so long that I have trouble remembering just exactly how many years it has been. I’ve taught thousands of students and relished each and every sexuality education question I’ve had. Never shying away from topics, pointing students in the direction of school and community supports and service providers, always keeping things open, honest and age appropriate. And yet….somehow having those same conversations with my OWN children? Well, I still feel that sense of awkwardness. How do I get the conversation started? How do I ensure that the lines of communication between adult and child remain open so that my kids can come and talk to me always, about anything?
Here are three new books on the market that all seek to make things easier for parents and care-givers. I’m already recommending them to all of my neighborhood friends and have added them to my ever-growing library of books to be lent whenever needed.
You might already know the author, Dan Rice, from his stellar work at conferences across the country. Or you might know him from his amazing advocacy work with Answer. Dan is a leading voice in the field of sex education and one that I trust implicitly. His influence is evident in my teaching and he continually challenges me to be a better teacher…and now a better parent too.
In his new book, you will find out how you can tackle the sometimes difficult subject of sex in a way that encourages your child to open up, be honest, and not feel ashamed. This modern guide helps you confidently discuss 70 essential sex education topics. Each subject features an easy-to-understand explanation, as well as questions and prompts designed to help you start meaningful dialogues.
In this, much needed book, Dan now provides me with the language and methods I need to have ‘difficult and awkward’ conversations with my own children. The book clearly lays out why these conversations are important, and how might be the best way to navigate them so that both parent and child can benefit both now, and in the future.
The outstanding feature of this book are the “guided conversations” that give parents and caregivers a jumping off point to start a conversation. Prompts are suggested to help keep the conversation flowing. Not only are these questions and prompts valuable at home, they will also be useful for educators in classrooms.
This title is the slowchathealth Book of the Month for March 2022.
Pair the book with this NPR podcast episode – A Sex Ed Update For An Internet-Enabled Generation.
You might already know author Scott Todnem from his previous internationally acclaimed book Growing Up Great! The Ultimate Puberty Book for Boys. Or you might know Scott from his National Health Teacher of the Year award and engaging conference keynotes. Or you might subscribe to his newsletter, or listen to his podcast.
Scott’s second book is sex-positive and inclusive and is just what I need as a parent of two young boys. As my sons enter puberty, they’re going to have a lot of questions that they’ll need my help in answering. Filled with understanding and uplifting guidance, this book will help me recognize what my sons are experiencing and have open conversations about everything from sexuality and gender identity to consent and safer sex. I know I’ll find these conversations daunting but this book will empower me to be more confident as a parent and allow my boys to enter this significant time of their life more informed, and more confident.
Pair Scott’s book, with this title from Vanessa Osage – Sex Education for Girls: A Parent’s Guide: Practical Advice on Puberty, Sex, and Relationships.
You might know some of the authors from their work focusing on the intersections of gender, health and education for girls and boys transitioning into adulthood. Or you might know of their Growing Girls USA project, a puberty and menstruation study exploring the experiences of low-income girls growing up in urban areas across the country. Perhaps you follow their Grown & Know Twitter account.
A Girl’s Guide to Puberty and Periods is a body-positive illustrated book that helps girls, ages 9-14, understand what to expect about puberty and everything that goes with it. The book shares “my first period” stories from girls across the U.S. of all backgrounds to help your child understand that everything they are going through is okay and normal. Parents will appreciate that the book also incorporates factual health content and practical tips developed by health experts at Columbia University. The goal is to empower girls to feel more confident and knowledgeable about their changing bodies.