Sex shaming, vs. healthy relationships.
Lea Grover has a great article on what sex positive parenting is really like. See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lea-grover/this-is-what-sex-positive-parenting-really-looks-like_b_5516707.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063
My favorite quote from the article is:
“And that's what sex-positive parenting really is. Not telling my kids lies about sex to keep them from behaviors I don't think are healthy. It's telling them the truth, the whole truth, and letting it sink in so they can make their own good choices.”
I agree. I have a son and we took the same approach to his masturbation. That’s something you do for yourself in private. We have taken the same approach to boundaries. When someone says stop, you stop. It doesn't matter if you were having fun in a tickle fight, or a pillow fight. When the other person says stop. It’s over.
And as for the – you get to decide if something is right for you or not. I know I am doing OK. Because when something happened, involving an older neighborhood boy, my son came to me – to tell me because it upset him. He knew he could talk to me and that I wouldn't freak out. We had never told him that certain things were bad. We only have told him that his private things are for him and he should only share them if he wants to. And, so he had no fear coming to me to tell me that something had happened that he wasn't OK with.
In our family we don’t shame sex in an effort to keep our son from exploring sex. What makes sex ethical and OK is if it is consensual. If it is not – that’s what I want to know about. And because that’s where we have placed the emphasis, that’s why my son felt comfortable telling me about something that made him uncomfortable and that he wasn't ready for.
And this is important, because if he had not told me, the rather normal you show me yours, I’ll show you mine game that made him so uncomfortable, could have progressed to something worse had he not asked for help to get it to stop.
Simply put – sex positive parenting helps protect kids from sexual abuse. Kids who are raised with the concept of consent and safety aren't afraid to tell their parents when something happens to them that makes them uncomfortable.
Unlike the other child involved who also was present when this older boy convinced them to show off their privates. When she was asked, she resisted telling the truth. She was crying and afraid to tell her parent what had happened even though she was aware that her parent already knew it had happened because my son and I had told her what had happened. This little girl was convinced she was going to be in trouble because an older boy took advantage of younger kid’s naivete. Why was she so scared? Because her parent and told her that showing her privates to others was wrong and something she shouldn't do. Her fear she was going to get in trouble was so strong that even with her parent telling her that she didn't do anything wrong, that the older boy was to blame, this little girl was still convinced she was bad and was going to get into trouble for having had this happen.
If you want to protect your child from sexual abuse, you need to be careful of the messages you send them. Treating sex as something shameful, to be hidden or not talked about because it is private means that if your child experiences something sexual that made them uncomfortable, they will not talk about it because you have already told them, this isn't something we talk about.
If you want them to feel safe coming to you with things that upset them, you have to make it clear, it’s OK to talk about and discuss sex and that they can come to you to ask questions and get information on how to stay safe when they are confused. Because things are going to happen. And sex, even for adults can be very confusing. Don’t tell your kids to be afraid of sex. Help them understand both the good and scary aspects of it so that they can learn how to maximize the good and avoid causing or experiencing harm.