I am not afraid to have whatever conversations my kids need to have. I am not afraid to talk about sex, sexuality, sexual assault, gender roles, power dynamics, systemic oppression, misogyny and fear with my children. I am not afraid to answer their questions and offer my interpretation. I have been having age appropriate conversations about sex and sexuality with my kids their entire lives. As an advocate for sex-positive parenting and a sexuality educator, I am grateful to help other parents have these conversations with their children too.
One of the many purposes of being a sex-positive parent is that we can protect our kids. Since we know the difference between ‘good sex’ and ‘bad sex’ we can teach our children to know that difference too. Every parent who wants to protect their child has to have the conversation with them that they have the right to say no to unwanted touching and that if someone does touch them in an unwanted way they need to tell you. I had to have that conversation with my sons when they were 3 years old. 3. Let that sink in. I had to warn my children that someone may try to do something to them against their will. Let me tell you how angry that made me. How unfair and wrong those conversations are; and yet, totally necessary because we live in a sex-negative culture where victims of sexual assault get shamed and blamed while predators get excused and ignored because our cultural understanding of sex is mired in shame, violence and oppression.
I also had to tell them that if someone did violate them it was not their fault. I had to tell them that even if they were too afraid to say no, it still isn’t their fault and to never be afraid to tell me, that I would never be mad at them. And we’ve had these conversations over and over and over. Every time they start a new school year, every time they join an after school program, every time they spend the night at a friend’s house.
My hope is that while I arm them as best as I can as children, I also instill a moral belief that will last throughout their adulthood: sex and sexuality are inherently good AND it is wrong to touch someone without their consent. I had to teach them about consent way before puberty. Before the peer pressure and the media onslaught diminish my influence. I taught them to see a person as a person and that secondary sexual characteristics are just that; secondary to the person they are interacting with.