Where might your child receive help or information about their sexual health? The media gives youth a distorted view of sexuality and our education system refuses to discuss all of the issues in honest and forthright ways. There are few adults willing to talk with youth about topics of sexuality for fear of stepping on parental boundaries. Other teenagers, however, are often far too happy to jump into the conversation without having a clear grasp of sexuality themselves. Unless families step up to the plate and ensure that a comprehensive and balanced conversation is had, youth will simply go without it.
And now a reality check. Most kids make it through adolescence without a lot of help regarding their sexual health. During this time period, the majority of kids manage to not get pregnant (or get anyone else pregnant) or contract an STI. In fact, most kids manage to emerge into young adulthood without substantial physical or psychological sexual trauma. It is, I think, a testament to our youth that they generally seem to muddle through without a lot of guidance or support.
But our children muddling through without support is hardly the highest pinnacle of child rearing. And there are so many children who are damaged, physically and emotionally, in ways that could be at the very least reduced with help from their parents. In so many areas parents provide their children with love, support, attention, caring, education, and more. Sexual health should be no different. When children receive love, support, attention, caring, and education around issues of sexual health they are physically and psychologically happier and healthier. The benefits of help are short term, but they also last a lifetime. As adults they are better able to find and maintain loving and healthy sexual relationships.
But how to reach this lofty goal of helping your child with their sexual health? Mostly it’s just a matter of listening. Sometimes there’s talking, sure. There are times to ask the occasional question, and answering some questions is also important. If I could provide every parent with one skill that would improve their children’s sexual
health, it would be the ability to really listen.
Of course there are other things too, including supporting their access to contraception, health care providers, and scientifically correct information and accepting their children regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. But when parents really listen deeply to their children, without preconceptions or cultural constraints getting in the way, acceptance and a willingness to provide access generally come along too.
Listening is hard work, though, and moving past preconceptions and cultural constraints is even harder. To a large degree, that is what we do with parents here at Unhushed: Help them see their children clearly and listen to them without judgment. It’s a rocky path, but it comes with so many benefits. I hope you’ll join us in the adventure.