Books Can Help in Talking to Kids About Sex
Debra Haffner, a former president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECU), who has been at the forefront of sexual education for more than 25 years, does just that for parents interested in providing a healthy framework for their children's current and future sexual education.
In her book, "From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children from Infancy to Middle School," Haffner not only tells you what to say or do, she also tells you how and when.
The book opens with an explanation of what sexually healthy families look and sound like, and offers guidelines for good communication and how to find teachable moments, of which you'll find there are many once you've attuned yourself to them.
Nice touches include a write-up on the caregiver's role in all this, as well as sections on divorce and helping your child deal with hostile hallways. There's a fantastic appendix in this revised edition with websites, additional readings, videos, organizations and hotlines. The foreword was written by her 13-year-old daughter.
In her next book in the series, "Beyond the Big Talk: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens from Middle School to High School and Beyond," Haffner implores parents not to engage in "adult amnesia," a condition in which parents forget the particular turmoil of the adolescent years.
Channeling that angst can be key in parents' abilities to empathize with their teens. "Beyond the Big Talk" covers typical concerns about the middle school years, such as peer pressure, dating, school dances and unsupervised time. Haffner offers tips on helping your teen set sexual limits, as well as how to stay connected and what to do if your child comes to you saying, "I think I'm pregnant" or "I think I'm gay."
There's also a chapter for ages 18 to 21, which can be particularly relevant, as many young adults are continuing to live at home after high school.
Haffner isn't the only expert writing about teens and sex.
"The Real Truth About Teens and Sex" by Sabrina Weill, former editor-in-chief at Seventeen magazine and editor of Choices, Scholastic's teen health magazine (and a ParentDish blogger), is the book your kids don't want you to read. Perhaps the subtitle says it all: From Hooking Up to Friends With Benefits: What Teens Are Thinking, Doing and Talking About, and How to Help Them Make Smart Choices.
This book includes results from an exclusive nationwide survey of teens, who apparently have no problem telling Weill things they would never tell their own parents.
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