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The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest!
January 2006 - Vol 1, Issue 3
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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.

A great way to stay connected with your child during winter is to watch a movie together. Sometimes discussions about sex and sexuality are easier if parents can use whatever is happening in a movie as a way to start a conversation. Using scenes and situations in movies can be a great way to share your values and check in with your child about theirs. Notice your own reactions to scenes and identify things you would like to raise with your child. You might invite discussion with open-ended questions about the movie either during an “intermission” or after it ends.

  • What did you think about the way the mom spoke to her daughter?
  • What do you think the boy might have been thinking when he made that decision?
  • How far do you think humans would go for love/family?
  • Were there any parts in that movie that concerned or bothered you?
  • Why do you think they had an argument? What could they have done differently?
  • Who did you admire most? Why?

Pop the popcorn, pop in a DVD and start the discussion!

Akeelah and The Bee, 2006 PG Eleven-year-old Akeelah from South Los Angeles has a talent for words and spelling. She learns about friendship, communication and family support through her spelling bee quest.

Anastasia, 1997 G This animated story about a lost Russian princess and her quest to find her true identity offers a strong female role model for young girls through the use of adventure, sensitivity, history and relationship issues.

March of the Penguins, 2005 G This documentary follows the journey of the Emperor penguins as they travel over 100 miles across the Antarctic continent. The penguins brave freezing cold temperatures and winds and icy waters, risking predators and starvation. They do this all for love and family.

102 Dalmations, 2000 G An animated sequel to 101 Dalmations that contains suspense, action, romance, and conflict resolution. The portrayal of some men as stereotypically foolish gives an opportunity to talk about gender stereotypes.

What’s Cooking? 2000 PG-13 Four families celebrate Thanksgiving. Conflicts emerge and secrets are revealed. Different stressors and tensions are observed through their cultural diversity. All of the families are challenged to find love and meaning.
Two Girls Family
Young people are naturally curious about life. They have normal questions about everything, including sex and sexuality. Remember, your children will look for answers and will get sex-related information from many places in addition to their home; they need you to interpret, affirm, and/or correct those other sources and influences. Keep Four Themes (Rights and Responsibilities, Values, Self-Esteem, Facts and Knowledge) in mind as you think about how you would answer these typical questions for youth ages 10-14.

  • Are my breasts/penis too small?
  • How can I say “no” when I’m not ready without upsetting the other person?
  • What happens when girls menstruate?
  • Do boys have periods?
  • What is a homosexual?
  • How do you know if you are gay or lesbian?
The Guttmacher Institute a non-profit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and public education, recently announced the findings of three research studies regarding sexual behavior in the United States. The first study supports comprehensive sexuality education and the concept that it iswould be more effective to provide young people with the skills and information they need to be safe once they become sexually active – which nearly everyone eventually will. “Trends in Premarital Sex in the United States, 1954-2003” by Lawrence B. Finer, published in the Jan./Feb. 2007 issue of Public Health, states that the vast majority of Americans have sex before marriage, including those who abstained from sex during their teenage years. Further, contrary to the public perception that premarital sex is much more common now than in the past, the study shows that even among women who were born in the 1940s, nearly 9 in 10 had sex before marriage. Click here to view the report.

The second study, “Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use” by John Santelli, is scheduled to be published in the January, 2007 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. This study shows that eighty-six percent of the recent decline in U.S. teen pregnancy rates is the result of improved contraceptive use, while a small proportion of the decline (14%) can be attributed to teens waiting longer to have sex. Click here to view the article.
Boost Self-Esteem: Don't forget that parents can have such a positive effect on their children's self-esteem. Remind them how special they are with a frequent "I love you," or "Have I told you what a great kid you are?", along with genuine compliments like, " I am so proud of how you handled that." or, "That was a great effort you put out. Good for you." Positive self-esteem fortifies kids with what they need to make healthy decisions.
U.S. girls experience menarche (first menstrual period) at the median age of 12.43 years. This age at menarche is not significantly different (12.34 years earlier) than that reported for US girls in 1973. Source: Chumlea WC, Schubert CM, Roche AF, Kulin HE, Lee PA, Himes JH, Sun SS (2003 Jan). "Age at menarche and racial comparisons in US girls., 2005. PMID 12509562". Lifespan Health Research Center, Department of Community Health, Wright State University, School of Medicine, Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Don't forget to visit our website at www.pplm. org! Our website is updated regularly with helpful tips for talking, 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.


Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
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