Parenting is difficult enough without even considered the implications of sexual health and gender equality, but these topics are important and must be discussed. Our role as parents is to aptly inform and prepare our children to succeed and cope with potential difficulties, including self confidence and care, body confidence, relationships, and the boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour by or towards them.
Join me in exploring the importance of educating our children on sexual health. This is a four-part series where we’ll look at the whys, why-nots, the difficulties, and the benefits of parent-led sexual health education for our children. At the end of the post you’ll find some practical exercises to reflect on what you’ve learned and apply the learnings to your own family situation.
In an ideal world, all our children would be safe and protected from all possible harm. The reality is that we cannot incubate our kids to shield them from the world. What we can do is educate them, and give them all the tools they need to handle any problem that life sends their way. This means learning to recognise when you need help, and knowing where to go to get that help (for example, reaching out to your parents, friends, family or a professional if you or your children need support).
If you don’t teach your children about sexual health, they will inevitably learn it elsewhere. You cannot control the source of that information. This means that if you want your children to have healthy, gender-equal views about sexual health and their bodies, the information needs to come from a reputable source. That source should be you.
I’ve created a few practical exercises to have each parent or reader apply what they’ve learned to their own children or family situation. Download the practical exercise guide below, and begin by following the scenario prompts on pages 2 and 3. Print out the guide and take the time to review each scenario uninterrupted. Write down your thoughts to assess what you’ve learned and then reflect.
The first two exercises will have you consider the implications of not educating your child or children on sexual health, and considering what worst-case scenarios might look like. These exercises are not meant to be upsetting, but rather a tool to demonstrate the importance of providing young people with a comprehensive education in sexual health.
Next, consider the exercises on pages 4 and 5, which will allow you to reflect upon what you’ve learned and how discussing sexual health with your child or children might be beneficial. This allows you to consider exactly how to arm your child(ren) with the information and confidence to handle difficult situations, should they be impacted.
**Rape culture can impact anyone, regardless of gender but for the purpose of this article on raising children, I’m generally referring to boys contributing to a culture which normalises abuse towards women or girls.