**Editor’s note: I have a comprehensive sex ed class for middle school students starting in Austin soon! If you’re local, or local enough, that you’re interested, drop me an e-mail (email@example.com), and we’ll talk!**
The new year starts with new resolutions! This year I have decided to have three resolutions, and if I accomplish one I will consider my resolutions accomplished. So here are the three things I would like to do:
- Take an aerial dance class.
- Finish my book (it’s 75% done…).
- Be on radio/television and/or in a print publication three times.
Two of these are professional, one is personal. Here is how these goals are going so far:
- I have already, technically, taken two aerial dance classes – now it is time to sign up for a series, which is what I intended with my resolution.
- I aim to accomplish my book-writing by writing/editing my book for one hour a day, five days a week. Today was my first day back to work, and I wrote for a highly productive hour. I foresee this being an easy goal this week, while my kids are in school, but my classes haven’t started yet. We will see how it continues once classes start next week!
- I’m talking with people who know how to make this happen – I certainly don’t! But I think I’d be awesome on the radio, and I could probably pull myself together for television too.
As for my book – this is what I really wanted to write about this evening. It is a book about how to talk with teenagers about sex/sexuality/romance and it is based on my ten steps to talking to teens about sex:
1 – Know yourself. What are your expectations, your hopes, and your fears about your teenager’s sexual and romantic development? You’ll have far more control over yourself and your interactions if you have a full understanding of these things.
2 – It’s not about you. Your child is, in fact, discovering sex for the first time. They don’t want to hear about you and your sex life or your path to discovering sex. They want to talk about their current exciting, overwhelming path. So let them! That’s how you’ll get the most information – and remember, that’s now the primary business of your parenting.
3 – Stop talking! As the parent of a teenager, you are in the business of trying to get information from your teenager, not give it. If you’re talking, you can’t hear anything your teenager is trying to tell you.
4 – Start listening! Stop talking. Start listening. Remember what primary business you’re in? And that can’t happen if you don’t really, really listen.
5 – You only get one question. You’d better make it a good one that can’t be answered with a yes or a no. Spend some time mulling over it. You can ask it when you’re sure it’s a good one.
6 – Do something else. Anything else. Many teenagers, especially boys, will have an easier time talking about sexuality and romance if you’re doing something “side by side” like driving, walking, or playing a game rather than sitting and looking at each other.
7 – About pleasure and pain. You have to talk about both. If you don’t acknowledge the pleasure associated with sexuality, you’re teenager will think you’re completely out of touch. And so you will be completely out of touch.
8 – Be cool like a cucumber. It is only when you manage to have a calm, loving demeanor that your teenager will feel comfortable talking with you. And remember – you’re in the business of collecting information. The only way to do that is if your teenager keeps talking.
9 – Bring it on! Your teenagers have tough questions. Some of them quite specific and technical. If you’re able to answer these questions with honesty, humor, and no judgment, your teenager will feel much more at home coming to you with increasingly difficult emotional decisions.
10 – Never surrender. There may be times you feel like quitting. Like the millionth time when you’ve tried to have an actual conversation with your teenager – about anything, much less sex! – and your teenager has once again completely avoided eye contact and has not even acknowledged your existence. But you can’t. You’re still doing some good, so keep going. Trust me.
I want to expand on these ten steps, guiding parents through opening up their conversations in a step-by-step approach that focuses on the long-term goal of physically and emotionally healthy adult sexuality. It’s going to be a best seller and I’ll be on Oprah, I just know it!! (Or…I would be…if Oprah were still on…)