Parent Buzz Newsletter - Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest
June 2009 - Issue 15
In This Issue
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Welcome to The Parent Buzz, an e-newsletter designed especially for parents and caregivers of middle school-aged children by Let's Be Honest, the Parent Education program of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

communication in families
During our Let's Be Honest workshops, parents often spend a good amount of time sharing questions they receive from their kids about sex and sexuality. We usually all agree that some of the questions might cause a parent to want to run and hide! However, after realizing that we're all in a similar parenting situation and after sharing possible answers with each other, shoulders relax and parents feel more empowered to give it a try.

We've included some common questions that parents have shared and suggestions of ways to answer such questions. First, we suggest to parents to keep in mind the following four themes during ongoing conversations with their child about sex and sexuality. Whether you choose to include one or more of the themes in your answers, it's a useful framework to keep in mind for answers and follow-up conversations.

  • As parent, it is your right and responsibility to be your child's primary sexuality educator.
  • Children WILL get information about sex/sexuality from the culture around them.
  • When parents are proactive, they have the opportunity to have a positive impact on their child's sexuality and experiences.
  • The child has a right to receive information from their parent and has a responsibility to understand that every decision about sexuality carries with it choices and consequences.

  • Think about and gain clarification about your attitudes, beliefs and values and be willing to share them with your child.
  • Ask yourself: Where do my attitudes, beliefs and values come from? (e.g. Universal Value - We all agree that children have a right to be safe. Personal Value - We may differ on our beliefs about when people should begin sexual activity.)
  • Honest communication between parents and children is important.
  • Even disagreeing about values is beneficial to both parent and child. It allows both sides to understand how the other thinks and feels.
  • Examining values can be a powerful positive influence on a child's developing sexuality.

  • Explore your feelings around issues related to sexuality and share them with your child. Allow and encourage your child to share his/her feelings too.
  • Try to practice listening carefully without judgment or criticism in order to foster an environment where your child feels comfortable in approaching you.
  • Affirm and validate your child. This will help him/her feel good about themselves and will help promote healthy self-esteem and decision- making.

  • Gather facts and resources so that you can help to assure that your child gets accurate and healthy information about sexuality.
  • Admit if you don't know the answer to a question and make sure to get back to your child with the answer (or investigate the answer together!)
  • Stay connected by discussing information in an ongoing, open dialogue.

Question from an 8 year old:Why don't boys get breasts?
Try this answer:
Actually, boys do have breasts but their breasts stay pretty flat. When girls become teenagers their breasts get rounder and larger so that they can feed a baby if they decide to have one later on. When boys become men, they won't be able to feed a baby from their breasts. But they can take care of a baby by feeding it from a bottle.
Values - men take care of babies
Facts & Knowledge - what happens to bodies at puberty

Question from a 10 year old:Is it dangerous for children to have sex?
Try this answer:
Some children are curious about sex, but most kids feel fine about waiting until they're much older to find out what sex is like. Children's bodies have not grown and developed enough to have sexual intercourse. It's never OK for an adult or older child to have sex with someone your age or to touch a child in sexual ways. When older people do this, they are taking advantage of the younger person. If you hear of something like this happening, I hope you'll tell me or some other adult so we can be sure it stops and that the child is OK.
Values - you can tell me if something makes you uncomfortable or worried
Feelings & Self-Esteem - you deserve to be safe and I will protect you
Facts & Knowledge - a child's body needs to grow and develop before they have sex

Question from a 12 year old :Why do people enjoy sex?
Try this answer:
Just like there are many different ways to define sex, there are many different reasons why people enjoy sex. Everybody's body is different and therefore people enjoy different things. People usually enjoy sex when it's a mutually consensual act, or both people have agreed to it, and when both people are emotionally and physically ready to be intimate (close and loving) with one another. A huge part of sexual intimacy is open and honest communication between partners. It's not like on TV. In real life, the emotional is just as, if not more, important than the physical. And, just like with other mammals, the human body is designed to enjoy sexual behaviors.
Values - mutual consent, honest communication are important
Facts & Knowledge - humans are designed to enjoy sex to keep the species going

Question from a 14 year old:Mom, when did you start having sex?
Try this answer:I understand that you're curious about my life experience. I'm not so sure that the age of when I had sex for the first time is as important as what I was feeling or thinking about it. Although you will decide for you when the best time is to have sex for the first time, I want you to know that I hope you wait until you are older and in a mature, responsible relationship.
Values - wait until you're older and more responsible before having sex
Feelings & Self- Esteem - it's normal to be curious about parents' life experience

Don't forget to visit our website for helpful tips, information about workshops, and much more. Don't miss an opportunity to be the primary sexuality educator for your children. Need help? Call our Parent Education Team at (617) 616-1658.

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Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
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