During her 25-plus years educating teens and adults, and more recently parents, about sexual health, Amy Lang has figured out how to simplify an often awkward, stress-filled or misunderstood topic – talking to kids about sex.
“The first thing is to think about these conversations in terms of your child’s health and safety,” says Lang, founder of birdsandbeesandkids.com.
“This is one of the biggest things we do as human beings,” Lang told Lianne Castelino during an interview for Where Parents Talk.com “We have relationships, we’re sexual, it’s part of who we are. And so if we switch our thinking from trying to get our kids to not do it, to preparing them so they feel confident, so they have a better idea of healthy relationships, is this the right time for me and the right thing for me to be doing.”
Click for video transcription
Welcome to where parents talk. My name is Lianne Castelino. Our guest today is an author and parenting thought leader in the area of sexuality. Amy Lang has been a sexual health educator for more than 25 years. Her latest book is called sex talks with tweens what to say and how to say it. Amy Lang is also a mother of one, and the founder of birds and bees and kids.com. She joins us today from Seattle, Washington. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you for having me.
Lots to talk to you about and you know, the fact that you’ve been in this space, really trying to educate adults, in particular parents around how to talk to their kids about sex, and sexual health. It’s interesting, because I’m sure you’ve seen a lot in 25 years, how has that conversation changed? Would you say and what’s been most surprising in that change for you?
You know, I got my start in just general sexual health education, working with teenagers and adults. And so what I think has changed the most is good news, kids have more information than they ever had have had bad news, a whole lot of it is, frankly, from porn. And it’s misinformation. And so we have this kind of push pull of a lot of more accurate sexual health information. And then it’s got this porn overlay. And so what’s happening is that they’re getting lots of information about sexualization and sexual stuff that isn’t based in reality. So good news, they have more info like so that’s one of the big things I think, has changed much more openness about sexuality, and gender and sexual orientation. So much more focus on consent. I don’t know if you remember, like, there was no conversation about consent when we were young. And so that’s also been really good. So I think ultimately, things are way better for kids and teens and young adults. And then also there’s this whole sidetrack, that is not healthy and is influential. But, you know, they think the thing from that I have learned from my work with parents and adults is that and we know that the more involved in adult is in a child’s life, when it comes to their sexuality and sexual health, the better they do. They feel better, they do better, they wait a little bit longer before they get busy. So there is definitely an improvement, for sure. But it really does rely on parents and adults to make sure that they’re getting this healthy information.
So let’s drill down on the parent for a little bit before we get into how they can approach the topic with their kids. What would you suggest that a parent needs to do to feel more comfortable in general, talking to their child about sex?
Well, I’m one of the things that I think helps Absolutely. Well, there’s like 16 things, but we’ll just kind of narrow it down to a couple. The first thing is to think about this, these conversations in terms of your child’s health and safety. This is a health and safety issue. And think about it in terms of preparing them for this huge part of life. You know, this is one of the biggest things we do as human beings, we have relationships, we’re sexual, it’s part of who we are. And so if we switch our thinking from trying to get our kids to not do it, to preparing them, so they feel confident, so they have a better idea of, you know, healthy relationship. And is this the right time for me and the right things for me to be doing? And do they have a lot of information. So that’s the first thing. So we’re going to flip from prepper, from prevention to preparation. I want my child to be prepared for this. And the easiest way to figure out why why am I want that to happen is just to think about yourself. Right? I certainly wasn’t prepared. I’m guessing you weren’t prepared. I know most parents were not prepared. So that’s the first thing that that just mindset change. The second thing is to really focus on sexuality is a good thing. It’s a cool part of being human. You know, it feels good to have sex and do sexual things. Our bodies are pretty flippin amazing. And having relationships is also it is hard. I get that I have one. But you know it is there’s a whole lot of good stuff about sexuality. So that’s the other lens is like, Hey, this is a good part of life. Sure things can go sideways. But the more prepared you are, the better, you’re going to feel better you’re going to do right, so there’s this like circular connection there. And then the last thing that I think well, there’s kind of do two more, I’m like an endless, I could talk forever. So the last two things are really kind of more personal work. So the first one would be to think and or and and or talk with someone about where you got your information when you were growing up. Like how would you learn about sex and sexuality and relationships? Was anybody talking to you? Did you have sex ed school? So that’s one thing. The other thing is then to think about what messages did you get about sex and sexuality? And that’s, that is one of the ways that you can kind of Lean into clarifying your values and beliefs about sexuality, which is really key to having healthy conversations with your kids. And then the last thing, and then I’ll be done talking about this. Think about your hopes? And what are your hopes for your kids when it comes to their first sexual experiences and relationships? What do you want for them? What do you hope they experience? What do you hope that they know. And that combo pack of things is one of the best things a person can do to really study and ready themselves for these conversations,
we’re going to drill down into so many of the points that you just brought up, because they really do need to be sort of examined further, you first talked about all the things that kids are exposed to today that you and I were not exposed to our parents weren’t exposed to, at young ages, you’re fighting social media, the internet, there’s all these competing forces. So when is the best time or the optimal time timing is everything to talk to your child about sex.
So this might be surprising to people. So I often say take a deep breath. So the ideal time to start these conversations about reproduction, because that’s really the easiest way for us to jump in, is when they’re about five when they’re starting kindergarten. I know that sounds really young. And the reason is that at five, they don’t know what we know, we don’t know, there’s anything amazing about sex, they don’t know there’s anything terrible about sex, they’re new on the planet, they’re starting kindergarten, so they’re going to be getting information from older kids. They’re curious, they’re open, they won’t notice your sweaty upper lip while you’re reading a book with them. Your 12 year old Oh, yeah, they’re gonna be like, What is wrong with you? Why are you being weird, but your five year old, they’re not going to notice that. The other thing is that when you start sooner rather than later, you establish that this is a normal life, this is how we are in our family, this is a normal part of your family life, they’re much more open, and it is just way easier to talk to a little person. And then start, like I said, starting with reproduction, right? It’s, you know, it’s pretty damn simple, right? usual way babies made, talking about all the other ways babies are made, and then focusing on families and bodies and boundaries. And that establishes your relationship with your child around this in your family. And then it makes it a lot easier as they get older. And the conversations get more
The other point that you brought up that I think is really important that we often don’t hear talk being talked about is really what is the goal of the conversation? And if you’re looking at it through the lens of a health and potentially a safety issue, then I think that completely changes the perspective going in, does it not?
Oh, yeah, it totally changed it for me, because Milo was five and I had been doing I’ve been a sex educator for like, 15, I don’t know, a long time, 16 years, and I knew what I was doing. And then I thought he was going to tell me it felt good to touch his penis, and I freaked out on the inside. And I realized that I had no idea. Like, I had no idea how to talk to a little person. And then as I was doing research for myself and our family, I realized that I could help other parents and other folks, other parents. But one of the things that made me sort of jump the line like made me lean in fully is when I read that study after study shows that kids who have open communication with their parents are trustworthy adult, they’re safer from sexual abuse. And so that for me, I was like, Okay, I’m all in, like, it didn’t even like I was already a little. And everything shows sooner is better, sooner is better, because of establishing that trust, and communication and open lines of communication, which is key, which is really key to supporting your child around this.
And along those same lines, if we’re looking at it through that lens of health and, and safety, certainly healthy relationships with others, consent becomes an issue. So how do you draw that line with parents to say, like, this is an important conversation because of X, Y, and Z. And so here’s how you can overcome your awkwardness, your you know, whatever, your lack of maybe knowing what words to use, how do you draw that line?
So during the work that I mentioned at the top, it was one of the things and then the other thing is just do it, just practice just say the words my new book sex talks with tweens is all scripts there are some tips but it’s the words and so you’re only gonna get better if you if you do it and I promise no one’s gonna die no one’s going to throw up you know you might feel uncomfortable your kids might feel uncomfortable but if you just say you know I’m uncomfortable no one talked to me you need to know this stuff. Here we go. And getting books like you don’t have to be the Wikipedia of sex you can just you can get books are terrific books out there for kids. Read them all yourself first. You’ve got a little information and then just go for it. You know, and sometimes you know, they’re all these myths like I know you know them like oh my kids not ready because they haven’t asked or Oh school, take care of it or I’m alright. That was okay, my kid will be fine. And, you know, that’s all not true. So your kids will not know that you are willing to talk to them if you don’t talk to them, right saying you can ask me anything and then never saying anything that doesn’t, that doesn’t, that doesn’t tell them anything. So I would say just start small stakes. Start with something that feels small and feels doable. And then don’t worry about giving them too much information, it is almost impossible for us to do that. So what your goal should be sweaty upper lip, if you have a sweaty upper lip, then you’re hitting it. You’re hitting it. And, you know, anyway, so yeah, I mean, it’s just practice makes progress, right? Just try. And the worst thing that can happen is, well, sometimes kids really freak out about it. But most of the time, they don’t. If they’re older, if they’re in that tween, they’d be like, Oh, my God, gross. Don’t I want to talk about this fine, developmentally typical. We don’t care. Right? You don’t care? They have to know they have to know.
Absolutely. Now, you alluded to your son, and that sort of journey in terms of your own learning, your son is now 22 years old. But you talked about natural curiosity in the example that you provided. So how can a parent work with a child’s natural curiosity around sex and sexual education in order to better have that conversation?
I think normalizing just saying, hey, people have sexual feelings. Sex is a normal, healthy, natural part of life. So just laying it out there, talking openly about puberty and how their bodies going to change how their feelings are going to change how they might have crushes, you know, talking about romance and healthy relationships, you know, when you’re doing that kind of all along, and you’re very clear that you know, sex in and of itself is for later in life. It’s not for kids, you need to be ready for it, you need to be prepared. And then you’re working on making sure your child has all the tools they need, because we can’t control them. Right, they’re gonna do it when they’re going to do it. And you can have your kid do it like we did, I did. And be okay. Or you can, you know, you can make sure your child is set up to feel good about their first experiences.
The other competing force and factor that you alluded to off the top, which I think a lot of parents wonder about is, let’s say they haven’t had the conversation yet with their tween or 18. And that young person has been exposed to porn, which is not, you know, not difficult to, to, to get to on the internet.
So then what does that conversation look like as a starting point? For people who haven’t had it yet?
Yeah, that is just super rough. It’s a really hard place to start. Most kids have heard the word sex. Right. And most kids have some idea that it has something to do with bodies, and maybe relationships or something like that. But when a child has been exposed to porn, before they knew what, you know, have a healthy understanding what sex and sexuality is. It’s harder because you have to, you know, you have to say, hey, you know what, I’m really sorry, you saw this. This is something that’s called Sex, what you saw is not real sex, it’s called porn. It’s not okay, or safe for kids to see it can really mess with our hearts and their minds and their bodies. Really important to tell a child that they are not in trouble. They are not in trouble if they see that because most of the time, it’s because we don’t have you’re not using monitoring and filtering and talking about openly about it. So it’s not on your child to be curious, right? Kids are curious, I would have been all over the internet, when I was 10. All over it. So that’s the first thing and then you’re going to have to say you know what you this isn’t what sex is we need to start talking about this. I’m sorry, we didn’t start talking about it sooner, and then get books and then start the conversation. And you know, one of the things about the porn exposure is that it will happen to every child. Nobody makes it. Nobody makes it to 18. Without seeing it. It’s usually accidental. And then it can become problematic, but it is definitely a fact of teenage life. They mostly boys use porn, some girls are using it. But it is just integral into their sense of themselves as a sexual person and where they’re getting they’re getting their sexuality education. It’s a bummer. To put it mildly.
It certainly complicates things for sure. Yeah. But let me ask you just to pick up on that point. What would you suggest is an approach to talk to boys specifically about sex and sexual education versus girls?
You know, everybody needs the same basic information, right? We all need they all need the same information and then the places where it kind of diverges is around misogyny and sexual assault, sexual assault and, you know, locker room talk and the way guys still talk of About women as an objectification, and I’m using big grown up words, right? But boys are encouraged to look at women as objects. That’s what porn does, we’re still valued for how we look and how we move in the world, they’re still, you know, there’s that whole culture of she asked for it and all of that. So talking with boys really, really openly about consent, making sure they really understand that their partner and it doesn’t matter what gender their partner is, they need to say, oh, have a wholehearted Yes. And making sure that the people you know, if your child is straight, that they understand that they are equally responsible for birth control, like they need to make sure their partner gets it, they need to be on board with it, they need to know what it all is. And then and then I believe that family should make condoms available, regardless of your child’s sex. So being really clear about this awful culture around how women are perceived, and men, how men are supposed to behave right around women, so and helping them talk about their emotions, and making sure they understand that, you know, healthy relationships are about connection and sharing feelings and that kind of thing. So it’s complicated on that side, right. And then let’s go over here, to the girls side, right? All that right there experiencing that they experienced it from the time they’re a little girls. So talking with them about how important it is to, you know, feel confident about who they are as a sexual person to trust their judge their trust their intuition, if somebody’s feeling pushy, or pressure eat, and they want us they need to ask for help with that. You know, one of the things that lots of kids do is they share nudes. And so talking about how that can be a huge problem, because even though somebody says they won’t share it, they will share it. People are predators and that way, I think really helping girls understand that they are fully worthy. And and you know, we’ve talked about clothing, right? Right. And, you know, they’re most of us don’t want to see a 12 year old and booty shorts and a crop top. And also, we’re policing what she’s wearing. So there are these spaces where you need to talk with, you know, talk with girls about, you know, people make decisions about you, based on what you’re wearing, the crappy people over here, they’re gonna make decisions about you based on what you’re wearing, whether they make it consciously or unconsciously. So having conversations about that, again, birth control, making sure that they know what periods are before they have them. Right. Understand why somebody would let a person with the uterus not know about periods before they show up. But it happens all the time. Still. That may be one of the good things modern day, right? That’s not happening so often. So really, at the end of the day, it’s lots of communication about what consent looks like, what does a healthy relationship look like? Because after you get all the nuts and bolts out of the way, yeah, you still need to revisit those. But by the time they’re in those solid, teenage years, it’s all about relationship. Right? I like this person, do they like me? How do I look? It’s all that internal stuff. So helping them to understand a that’s normal and be you know, how to feel be healthy within that?
Absolutely. So much of what you’re talking about. Amy, from a parent’s perspective has everything to do with having confidence, and in some cases, courage, to broach the topic to make it age appropriate, etc, etc. How much does a parent’s own relationship with sex education and how they perceive the subject matter? impact how they decide to talk to their child about it?
Well, the less you had, the harder it is, right? So if you grew up in a really conservative culture, it’s a lot harder to be open, because all the messages in those communities about sexuality in general, it’s very hidden, very negative. You know, it’s, it’s only preserved for marriage or certain circumstances. So that makes it harder. I think about it in layers, like like, some folks have a really big player to get to the top right, they got to go through a bunch of stuff to get the top for and it could be because of their sexual abuse history or, you know, whatever happened for them, that just makes it so much harder. And some folks are lucky, they have less to go through, but it always takes some kind of courage for most people. So I am a very big fan of baby homework. So just baby steps, like tiny little things you can do that will help you lean in and feel better and feel more comfortable. And some of it is sort of silly. Like I said, like what are your hopes? Right? What are your hopes or how did you learn like just having a How did you learn conversation? For some people and the messages is just liberating. They get it out of them. And then with the messaging, it’s like, Oh, my God, I don’t believe that and that hurt me. I I don’t want my child to have that information. So I’m going to do the opposite. And, you know, what we know, or what I believe is that every child needs at least one trustworthy adult to try to try. And you know, I think in parenting, we think we should know what we’re doing. I don’t know if you noticed. It’s not really a thing
doesn’t always happen. And
so it’s okay to say, I don’t know what I’m doing. But you need this information, I don’t want you to feel like I did. Right? During this time of life. And what were when I started, you know, these romantic relationships,
you bring a really interesting lens to this topic, because you’re a mother yourself, you educate adults, I wonder if you could paint a picture for us on, you know, what, what you’re hearing from parents, when you meet them. And as you tried to educate them on how to find the words and to have that confidence that we talked about, to have a conversation about sex with their kids, what are trends that you’re seeing?
Well, I mean, not to toot my own horn, but I have over the years that I’ve been doing this, I have people come to me and say you, you made this made this possible for me. Like I have amazing conversations with my kids, I saw you in kindergarten, you came to our elementary school you taught at our preschool, and my child just came to me and said that they’re ready to have sex. And we were able to talk about it. And I felt comfortable that this was going to be okay, move for them. So, you know, I think that knowledge is empowering. And so I’ve been able to provide information in a very down to earth and simple way like this is not complicated. I mean, it’s really complicated, but it’s also not complicated. So I think that just seemed just help taking some of the pressure off in some ways and giving permission, right, we didn’t have permission to talk about like, our parents didn’t talk with us, they didn’t have the same kind of permission. So having somebody say, you can do this, it is okay to do this. Excuse me, you also probably should do this because it is health and safety. For your child. That’s our main job, nothing else. They don’t need smartphones, they need to be healthy and safe, right? They need whole wheat bread. So I think I’m just giving the permission, having the resources and just the encouragement, and also taking the mystery out of it. Like we made this huge thing. And, you know, it’s serious business, but it doesn’t have to be a whole lot of it is hilarious. Like, think of all the slang for private body parts the kid friendly slang, it’s funny, right? You know, like, like, be light hearted. Don’t be it’s if you’re all serious business about it, they’re gonna be like, get the hell away from me. You’re a weirdo, right? And maybe casual. That’s the other thing that we didn’t really talk about. But one of my colleagues says it’s two, it’s 200 to two minutes or 2002 minute conversations, right? Just keep it short and sweet. Keep it a little lively. Sometimes they’re going to be longer, but it’s not a you know, you don’t sit down on Wednesday and say, Okay, it’s hump day. It’s dinnertime, we’re gonna have a sex talk, right? That is? No, that’s a no. I mean, you can say that and be funny, right? And say something, a little thing to tell you. And that’s fine. But none of this like what we’re doing right now. Don’t do that to your child, because they will run for the hills.
So can you give us an example, Amy of perhaps the most common mistake that parents make around this topic? And what you suggest to address it? Yeah,
I would say the most common mistake is thinking that, Oh, they don’t need to know. Oh, they don’t need to know they’re too young are letting the like your fear, projecting it on your kid and be like, Oh, I’ll find a better time. And there’s really never a good time. So like buying into your discomfort rather than pushing through. So you know, I would say that just give it a shot and see what happens. Give it a try and start low stakes, right? Just say hey, do a tampons are, I mean, right? To your son, right? Like that might be feel high stakes to you, but find someplace where you can enter in. Um, and then the other thing too, is just going on too long. Right and just blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, just shut up. Right? Just like watch your child’s body language. If they’re twitching and pulling away from you. As you start, then you need to stop talking because you can always pick it up later. You can always pick it up later, but we tend to ramble out of anxiety and also wanting to get it over with which there’s no getting it over with it is is a consistent conversation.
Would you suggest that a parent finding out what their child is learning about sex in school is helpful or a hindrance.
So from their peer Just from the curriculum and the other, yeah, either one, right. So from their peers, it’s really helpful. And that’s pretty easy, because you can just say, so what’s going on with your friends, when it comes to this, and maybe they’ll talk, maybe they won’t. But when it comes to sex education at school, you should know what they’re teaching. I live in Washington state where we have really good sexuality education, it’s it is comprehensive, which means it starts in kindergarten and goes all the way through. So a lot of misinformation about comprehensive sexuality education, they are not teaching kindergarteners about intercourse, they’re teaching them about friendships and bodies and boundaries. And they go and they build up to all the other business. So you should definitely know what’s been taught. And you should, even if you, I believe that even if you’re disagree with what’s being taught, it’s all facts and evidence based information. It is it is vetted, it is current, it is good news for your kids, you should let them attend it. And then you’re going to be talking about your values, the school has to be pretty neutral, right? I mean, nobody’s neutral about sex, there’s just no way but that you come in with your values, and you say, hey, you know what, in our family, we believe that it’s important to wait until you’re in a loving, committed relationship, or however that looks for you. And the converse is true. If you live in an area where you have terrible or no sex ed, or it’s abstinence based, which does not work, then your child should attend that as well, because it’ll be good fodder for undoing some myths, myths and giving them the right information. So and the thing to remember about sex education at school is that there are so many kids who are not going to get this. And kids who don’t, you can look at the states where we’ve got really good sexuality, health education, those kids have lower teen pregnancy, HIV STI rates, and you go to a state like Mississippi, which may be the highest teen pregnancy STI and HIV rates, you look at that. And that tells you something. So you know, I think kids have a human right to have this information. It is a human right. And, you know, if you don’t want your child to get that information, that’s fine. But they have a human right to know it. So don’t you know, for other families who aren’t capable, they need this. They need this. Sorry, soapbox.
No, absolutely. Let me ask you, we started by talking about all the noise out there, and all the external forces playing a role in in this conversation that, you know, a parent can’t control? What would you suggest that a parent do to counter that? If anything? Is it just what you had suggested? And that is to start early? And, you know, be consistent about the messaging? Or is there something else that needs to be done?
It’s that so get started as soon as you can. And some people think, oh, no, my child’s 15 have blown it, you have not blown it. You just need to get in there, they’re not going to like it. Do you care? No, get them books, talk with them, and get it get the conversation started. And the nice thing about talking to somebody who’s 13 and older is you don’t need to you don’t need to screen edit anything, you can just talk about all of it. And that is what’s really protective is when you’re talking about it and the influence of all the stuff they’re seeing and hearing about when you’re telling them explicitly that hey, you know, I know your friends, were looking at porn, and maybe you’ve seen it, you just need to understand that that is just not real sex. Nobody looks like that makes those noises says those things. You know, nobody’s body is like that it’s not real, and just debunking it and talking about it openly. That’s what’s going to help reduce that noise. And then asking them, What do you think about this? What have you heard? What are your friends saying? So you can get some? Get some information? And then, you know, always giving your opinion, right? No, this isn’t healthy. And here’s why. We that worries me because XYZ. And then the other way to do this is when you’re watching shows with your kids, and you know, something comes up and you’re like, Oh, I love the way he blah, blah, blah, or you know, later on, you’re like, hey, when we were watching Never have I ever remember that scene. Where does that happened? I didn’t that that was not okay, because of this. Right? And so using the world around you is also another way to kind of help with that chatter in that noise.
What would you say Amy concerns you most about this topic as it’s dealt with by parents in 2022? That maybe you weren’t concerned about before? What concerns you most?
Oh, that’s the porn. It’s porn. I mean, 25 years ago, I didn’t have to talk about it. Every time I teach or speak, I have to talk about it. And that concerns me. Parents, not just and also like, there’s no excuse anymore. I mean, certainly some parents, of course, their lives, their circumstances, whatever. They’re not capable of this. But most parents are fully capable of this. I’m not the only game in town. There are tons and tons of resources but I would say, you know, right now really taking online safety seriously, because, you know, it’s not just porn. For me, it’s all about the porn. But it’s other stuff too, right? And so really just taking taking that seriously, I mean, make you put yourself in your 10 year old self and you Google sex and then you see, if you have not seen porn, you should look at it, and then pretend you’re 10 and do what you’re gonna do with that. Right? It is not good. I look at it twice a year. I looked at it recently, and I’m still seeing it. So I think just taking that really seriously. And then I’m really, I would say, that’s kind of the main thing, and then understanding that what counteracts that is having sex, giving your kids resources and having conversations about healthy sexuality. It’s really hard. I mean, I’m really I’m really bummed about it. And I do want to be clear that not every kid rabbit holes with it, but when teenagers say that one of their primary sources of sex education is porn, that’s worrisome. That’s not okay. It’s not okay. Because it’s not sex ed. It’s, it’s entertainment, of the worst variety.
Along those same lines, what gives you hope and makes you optimistic about this topic being addressed by parents in the age of information that we live in, that you alluded to, at the beginning of this conversation, the greater awareness pieces out there. So what makes you optimistic about it?
So what makes me optimistic is about around gender and sexual orientation and how much more open kids are about it. And they’re going to lead the charge. Like they’re dragging parents into the world of you know, there’s more than being straight and cisgender. Right. And it’s a real challenge for lots of parents to understand this. But for me, that’s showing this expansiveness sort of overall sexuality and being able to see it in a more positive light, opening lines of communication. And just, I mean, it’s just one element of somebody’s of sexuality, but it’s one of the ones that’s been the most challenging for folks, for so many reasons. I don’t need to go into them. But that gives me a ton of hope. Kids are really okay, for the most part with somebody’s sexual orientation or gender. Like they’re like, Alright, whatever. But I do live in Liberal enclave, Seattle, but it’s happening all over. And that’s the other piece too. There’s so much support for kids now that is healthy. They can get good healthy resources. So, you know, in that respect, I really think that’s good. And then for parents, there’s a heightened awareness. Like, you know, I’m Milo’s 21, I started this when I was when he was five. And how old was I? Somebody do the math. I’m 55. Right? The parenting has changed. The younger parents are more open, they’re more on it. So there’s a lot of hope there too. And there’s, it’s not all gloom and doom. And there’s a solution to the yucky stuff, which is opening your mouth and having conversations and trusting that it’s going to be okay. And if they’re going to be it’s going to be better for them. It’s going to be better for them to have for you to be uncomfortable and have the conversations.
Amy Lang sexual health educator, author of sex talks with tweens. Thank you so much for your time and your insight today. Thank you. My pleasure.
As a sexual health educator, Lang, who is also a mother of one, says moving from a “prevention to a preparation” approach to discussing the topic, can potentially be game-changing for both parent and child.
And, she says, now more than ever, the ‘birds and bees’ there is a greater sense of urgency.
“What I think has changed the most is good news —- kids have more information than they ever have had,” she says. “Bad news — a whole lot of it is, frankly, from porn. And it’s misinformation.”
Lang says the most common mistake parents make is thinking their child does not need to know about sex, yet —- that they are too young.
She suggests the conversations start early and continue often.
“The ideal time to start these conversations about reproduction, because that’s really the easiest way for us to jump in, is when they’re about five when they’re starting kindergarten,” says Lang, author of several books. Her latest, published in 2022 is called, Sex Talks with Tweens: What to Say and How to Say It.
The book provides strategies and ideas around words parents can use to feel confident about broaching and discussing sex with their child.
“Just practice, just say the words,” advises Lang. “My new book is all scripts. There are some tips but it’s the words. You’re only going to get better if you do it and I promise no one’s gonna die, no one’s going to throw up. You might feel uncomfortable, your kids might feel uncomfortable but if you just say you know I’m uncomfortable no one talked to me, you need to know this stuff —- here we go.”
During her interview with Where Parents Talk, Amy Lang also discusses:
- What parents can do to feel more comfortable discussing sex with their kids
- The best age and stage to discuss sexual health with kids and why
- How to work with a child’s natural curiosity to discuss sexual health
- Approaches to discussing sex with girls versus boys
- How a parent can better align their own learning about sex education to teaching it
- Most common pitfalls
How to Talk about Sex with your Teen: Advice from an Erotic Expert
Understanding Consent with Dr. Scott Ronis, Clinical Psychologist