An open letter to my students, young and old

Dear Students,

When you want to talk about some of the more delicate issues in your own sexuality or your children’s sexuality, it is fine for you to say that these issues actually belong to your friends or your friends’ children.  I’m really fine talking in those terms.  I will go out of my way to say “your friend” rather than “you.”  I know the pain that comes with feeling embarrassed or ashamed that you or your children made a certain choice, but you still need to know the answer to the question or talk through the next steps.

Regardless of whether you choose to own the actions as your own, I promise you that there have been other people who have come to me with the same issue, that I will not be shocked or think any less of you, your children, your lovers, or your would-be-lovers.  Mistakes and misjudgments happen everywhere, all the time, and the stature and grace with which you move forward is often far more telling than what happened in the first place.

But even though all of this is true, I will still know when we are talking about you and your loved ones versus the times when you really do have a question about a friend.  I will know from the shaking of your hands, the occasional leaked tear, the unbearable pain in your voice, and from when you say, “My friend doesn’t have any friends – none – who will listen to her or support her.  My friend just doesn’t know who to turn to.”

Some of you know we are playing a kind of a game, and we both enter into this conversation about your “friend” willingly to ease the discomfort.  Some of you really think you are fooling me, think that I believe your friend made these choices rather than you making them.

But you aren’t fooling me.

Because here’s the thing: Even knowing that you made these decisions, I still want you in my classroom and I still think the world of you.  In fact, I deeply respect the fact that you have been able to reach out for help, and I will do everything I can to help you move forward.



About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. I love this. So beautiful.

  2. aaaaawwwww. i wish i could hug you. 🙂 you’ll definatley be the first person i come too. 😀 enjoy the rest of your summer.

  3. Thanks, Heather! I would be delighted to see you again – even if you don’t have a problem to talk about. 🙂 (Heather is one of my former college students.)

  4. So happy to find you (via Belly, via Petuniaface)!!! As a teenager I began scripting out imaginary sex-talks in preparation for the real ones I hoped to have with my someday-children. I was keenly aware of my mother’s shame regarding sex, and determined not to repeat the shame-basting. Now, as a mom to a 6 year old girl, my years of scripting and thinking about ways to approach/address “taboo” topics has already served me well. Love your attitude, philosophy, look forward to reading more of what you have to say and share! Thanks so much!

  5. Thanks, ohnomyboots! Being aware at this young age of the conversations that are already starting is so critical – and will, I am sure, lead to a more open relationship between you and your daughter.

  6. Could you tell me if “prom babies” are real?

  7. Gabriele, If you are asking if any young woman, anywhere has ever tried to get pregnant on prom night, then the answer is surely yes. However, if you are asking if there were great hoards of young woman trying, this last May, to get pregnant on prom night, the answer is surely no.

  8. I found this article interesting! Thanks for the information on this blog … great work.

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