As someone who writes about women's health and sexuality for a living, I hold myself to certain standards where it comes to my daughter's education. So I teach Em the names of all of her body parts. I try to avoid passing along feelings of body shame. And in an attempt to teach her about consent and agency, I don't force her to kiss or hug anyone she does not want to kiss or hug.
She'll be just two in about a month, so I don't know how much benefit she gets from any of this.
But I do know that the unhealthy messages of a culture that continuously fails its women have a way seeping in, softly and insidiously, almost by osmosis.
And so I soldier on.
Happily, teaching Em the location of her vulva has been a cakewalk. But as she approaches 2, I know things will get much more complicated much more quickly. I'm going to have to teach her about things like gender and privacy. I'm going to have to teach her that Mommy likes to poop with the door closed for a reason, and that culturally established gender norms are not something with which she should concern herself.
But I know that throwing a few board books her way and hoping she gets the picture isn't going to be enough. (I know this because that was a main component of my first attempt at potty training my daughter.)
If I expect her to grow up as a knowledgeable young woman with a healthy sense of her own sexuality, I'm going to have to learn how to talk the talk... at her level.
No. If I expect her to grow up as a knowledgeable young woman with a healthy sense of her own sexuality, I'm going to have to learn how to talk the talk... at her level.
Which is why I'm now simultaneously reading three different books on how to teach your children about sexuality from birth on, all of which I'm finding indispensable:
And then there's my favorite, Deborah M. Roffman's "Sex & Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex." I'm a huge fan of Roffman's friendly, open, and easygoing tone, bolstered by her own stories of missteps in the parenting trenches. Beyond this, she does a brilliant job of showing readers how to approach difficult topics with their children... no matter their cultural or religious background, or their belief system.