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SEX & RELATIONSHIPS
Making sure your child seeks out healthy, respectful relationships from childhood on

The facts

  • The average age of “sexual debut” (what a term!) in the UK is 16 to 17, but bear in mind that virginity is a social construct – the idea of “popping your cherry” is a thing of the past. People often define first-time sex along sliding scale of sexual experience
     

  • Children whose parents talked to them about sex at a young age do not have sex earlier – but they do have safer sex, a North Carolina State University study shows

 

  • Almost 4 in 10 young people have started seeing someone they met first online, according to Brook’s Digital Romance report. Read it to come to terms with how your child might be moving fluidly between technology and face-to-face in their romantic relationships. It’s not all bad…

We agree with ScaryMommy that it’s never too early to start talking to your children about sex (in simple terms, with spiralling levels of detail as they get older). 

To give your kid a shot at being a good engineer, when would you start teaching them to count?

What is age appropriate? Be led by your child’s level of interest. Add detail if they ask – and if they don’t, be on the alert for any of these Sex Ed Rescue teachable moments as they come up.

HealthyChildren.org has a helpful list of questions to expect at each age

Educate yourself. You want to be a myth breaker, not a myth maker, even if that means saying “I don’t know – let’s find out” now and again.

 

With you child, consult Brook or The Mix together for straight facts, Amaze for video content and Scarleteen for “real-world” advice

Our children want a close bond with us, including less punishment and threat and more everyday talks about relationships, says Brook’s Digital Romance report.

 

They want to hear from us about the positives, not just the negatives, of sexual relationships. So try talking…

Be aware that you need to communicate your family’s values around sex to your child. It’s important to let them know what sexual behaviours and attitudes you feel are OK (and not OK) so that they can be informed, feel positive and make good decisions, advises Cath Hakanson of Sex Ed Rescue

“We’ve been taught that the hymen is some kind of freshness seal on the vaginal canal… [but] for most women, there’s nothing to break. The hymen expands and contracts. The hymen is not a predictor of virginity”

5 Patriarchal Myths I Bet You Believe – Anya Manes (Talking About Sex)

“Never ‘If you ever…’ The only productive ‘if you ever’ statement I can think of around sex and teens is something like: ‘If X ever happens, I hope that you’ll come to me, knowing and trusting I will [do my best] to be supportive’”

 Top Ten List of Resolutions for Parents – Heather Corinna (Scarleteen / Rewire News)

Young people describe their parents as influential relationship role models: 75% of young men, for example, cited their parents’ relationship as one they admire in FASTN’s Love, Lust and Loneliness report.

 

This means they need to observe healthy behaviour from you!

Our favourite of these illuminating Top Ten Resolutions for Parents Talking to Teens About Sex (it’s an oldy but a goody) is about giving kids a sense of bodily autonomy and healthy boundaries: 

 

Practise what you preach by allowing your children privacy and respecting their boundaries. It’s a vital part of consent…

Parents are often afraid that if they share details of their own adolescent sexual experience that somehow it will translate into a permission slip to go have sex. Quite honestly, kids aren’t seeking your permission. You’re not opening the door; you’re guiding them through their innate sexual curiosity

Keep your eyes on the prize – young people who know their values, who believe themselves worthy of love, who feel good about their bodies, who see pleasure as a means to build intimacy and connection with another

 

– sexuality educator Al Vernacchio, from his book For Goodness Sex

More help with #Sex&Relationships
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SEX-ED SCHOOL | Watch & learn
Fill the gaps in your 9- to 12-year-old’s education with this reassuring Canadian series set in a normal-feeling classroom. BBC’s The Big Talk is good but aimed at teachers. The Aussie series Get The Facts is for slightly older kids…  Go to Sex Ed School >
BISH | For teens plus Sex For Parents guide

Justin Hancock’s Bish – a comprehensive sex and love guide for teengagers aged 14+ – also has a Sex For Parents guide to help you talk to your children. See also Meg-John and Justin, aimed at a slightly older crowd  Go to Bish: Sex For Parents >

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SIX MINUTE SEX ED | Podcast for parents & kids

We recommend listening to American Kim Cavill’s podcast together with a teenager as a jumping-off point. Episodes include “Let’s talk about nudes” and “What’s an HIV test like?”  Go to Six Minute Sex Ed >

BBC | Mimi On A Mission: Sex Ed

YouTuber Mimi Missfit takes seven British teens to the Netherlands to learn about sex & relationships from the best. A great watch for parents and their kids – preferably together, so you can make the most of the talking points  Go to Mimi On a Mission >

SEX ED RESCUE | Tips on talking openly at home

Comprehensive advice on why it’s important to talk with kids about sex, relationships, bodies, LGBT issues, porn etc, plus resources. We are fans of the free Back To Basics course – 5 emails with excellent tips on how to talk openly  Go to Sex Ed Rescue >

Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.

 

If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional

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