Sex Ed Isn’t Just for Kids

By Julia Bernards

Sex.

How does the word strike you? The connotations of that simple three-letter word are profoundly personal, intensely inter-personal and seriously socially manipulated. Our experiences with sex–from first childhood inklings to full adult knowledge–are multifaceted and often conflicting.  And now, as parents, we have to make sense of this tricky topic for our kids, and do it clearly and cleanly, so they are prepared to deal with the influences and experiences in their worlds.

If you’re not sure you’ve mastered the subject of sex, you are not alone.  If your own discomfort, disappointment or sexual demons* interfere with your communications with your kids, it is time to do something about it. Sex education isn’t just for kids.

3 Steps to Get Your Personal Sex-Ed Started

  1. Validate YOUR feelings about sex. If you haven’t already, it is time to stop telling yourself how you “should” feel about sex. How do you feel about it? Until you recognize and accept your personal set of feelings, you’re stuck.
  2. Figure it Out. Without judgment of yourself or others, determine what influences your feelings about sex. Remember, “Knowing is half the battle!”.
  3. Take Action. Armed with your acceptance and understanding of what is, figure out what you want. There are a multitude of great resources to help you achieve it.  From a heart to heart with your spouse or partner to consulting a licensed therapist, from anatomy books to relationship books, from internet tips to conversations with trusted friends, there are avenues for your sexual education and progress. You are worth the time and work, and so are your relationships.

3 Sexual Lessons I’ve Learned*

  1. Sex is a “people-growing process.” (Schnarch, 2002) And I’m not talking about babies.  As with so many other aspects of our lives that have potential for great joy and great sorrow (parenting, relationships, our physical bodies, etc.), sex is a mechanism that encourages personal progress. In the close quarters of intimacy, we have to examine and know our inward selves, and make improvements and adjustments, if we want the rewards of sex. Sex is about giving us the challenging opportunities that can grow us into healthy adults. Emotionally, Interpersonally, Physically Healthy Adults ⇔ Healthy Sex
  2. Sex is a reflection of your whole relationship. This was the one piece of advice on sex my dad gave me before I got married, fifteen years ago.  I’ve appreciated the perspective. And over time, I discovered that not only does everything else that happens in our relationship (including work, housework, parenting, conversations, money, friends, church, etc.) affect our sex life, our sex life can also have a meaningful impact on the rest of our relationship, for better or worse.
  3. It gets better.  This was another piece of advice I got.  At first I wondered how it could get better, then WHEN it would finally get better, and now I know there are just ups and downs. Sex is just part of life, and it doesn’t escape the ebb and flow of the years, months, weeks and days.  The level of emotional, physical, spiritual, and interpersonal energy we have fluctuates. It’s normal. So if things are hard, give yourselves (and each other) a break.

As you gain personal confidence with sex, you will be able teach healthy sexuality to your children with greater assurance, insight and understanding. You’re worth it, and your children are, too.

* In cases of sexual abuse or severe sexual problems in a relationship, my lessons do not hold.  The demons associated with sexual abuse and other serious sexual issues at any time of life need to be addressed by a trained clinician.  Don’t try to work through those problems on your own.  You and your relationships are well worth the effort of getting professional help. 

See our book   for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+ to find ways to start conversations about topics like this; including lessons and activities to empower your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy!

Great lessons, quick and simple discussions.

Julia Bernards is a dedicated family advocate, learner and writer. She is preparing for a PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and is a wife and mother of four. 

References:

Schnarch, D. (2002). Resurrecting sex: Resolving sexual problems and rejuvenating your relationship. New York: HarperCollins.

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