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Talking To Your Kids About Sex
How to Talk To Your Kids About Sex

The Sex Talk can be a good experience for both parents and children. Dina Alexander shares tips, myths, and how-to's.

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Talking To Your Kids About Sex

Wondering how to have the sex talk with your kids? Here are a few ideas to help you be a safe place for your kids to turn for sex education.

Dina Alexander, founder and CEO of Educate and Empower Kids shares what YOU need to know as you prepare to have the sex talk with your kids. Topics include sex, pornography, and body image.

This episode is Part One of Anne’s interview with Dina Alexander.
Part One: The “Sex Talk”: What YOU Need to Know (this episode)
Part Two: Learn How to Teach Your Kids Healthy Sexuality

The Sex Talk: What Every Parent Needs to Know

“I want every parent to know: You can do this. You’ve got this. You don’t have to be an expert. And you don’t have to be in the field. You don’t have to have a training in sex education to cover things that they’re learning about on the playground, whether that’s anal sex or oral sex or masturbation or pornography or addiction, social media. All those things are just so interrelated with the Sex Talks and anybody can do it with just a little bit of study and a lot of caring for their child. You can do this.”

Dina Alexander, Educate and Empower Kids

What Resources Can Help You Have The Sex Talk With Your Kids?

Dina offers incredible insights and empowering encouragement in this episode. Are you eager to have healthy, open discussions with your kids? Here’s how Educate and Empower Kids can help you with the sex talk:

Wherever you are on your journey to teaching your children about healthy sexuality, remember that it’s never too early or too late.

At BTR, we understand how sensitive and difficult this topic can be for mothers. Remember to offer yourself compassion and support as you navigate this aspect of parenting. Attend a BTR.ORG Group Session today.

Anne (00:01): Dina Alexander is the founder and CEO of Educate and Empower Kids. It’s an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education, including education about the dangers of online pornography.

She’s the creator of Noah’s New Phone, a story about using technology for good, Petra’s Power to see a media literacy adventure, How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs.

She received a master’s degree in recreational therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelor’s from Brigham Young University. She tries to be a great mom and loves spending time with her family and she lives in New Mexico. Welcome, Dina.

Other Resources to Help Educate Your Kids About Healthy Sex

Anne (02:15): So Dina and I have known each other a very long time. We’re personal friends. We know each other in real life and over the years she has sent me all the books that Educate Empower Kids has produced, and my children love them. My daughter is always pulling them out. I think she likes nonfiction better than fiction, so she’s always like, I want to read Wade’s Story.

Dina Alexander (02:38): She wants to figure out life, not just fantasy, right? I’m glad your kids like them.

Anne (02:48): Please go out and get Dina’s books. My kids like them so much that I’m kind of sick of them. Isn’t that good?

Dina Alexander (02:55): Yes. We all have that as moms, you get this book, you love it, and then after the 10th time you’re like, oh my gosh.

Anne (03:02): That’s how good they are. I’m like, do we really have to read this body image book again every night for four months? Can we just read Little Red Riding Hood or something? And she’s like, no, we need to learn about positive body image. And she’s seven years old.

30 Days of Sex Talks for Kids

Dina Alexander (03:16): She’ll never regret it though. As an adult, she will be able to say to her friends that still all hate their bodies, wait, didn’t your mom talk to you about this? And then be sad for her friends whose moms did not teach them to care for their bodies and love them as they should.

Anne (03:29): Yes. So they’re that good. They’re that good that even when I’m sick of them, my kids still want to read them. So that I think is the biggest endorsement that there is.

Dina Alexander (03:38): That’s hilarious. I love it. Love it. Thank you friend.

Anne (03:42): So Educate and Empower Kids just came out with a new edition of 30 Days of Sex Talks. It has the same topics, but it’s more in depth. Can you talk about the feedback that you received between the first and second edition and why you decided a second edition was important?

You Are The Best Source of Sex Education for Your Kids

Dina Alexander (03:55): The first edition came out 2015. We did a couple of updates over the years, just fixing some of the language, but we find that parents are just still very intimidated by these topics, and so we gave a little more information. Some of it is a little bit more of helping them understand that they are the best source of information.

None of us have to be experts, but that you as the parent love your kids more than anybody else. And so part of it is helping parents realize you can have these conversations, but also just giving a little more background and giving a little more information, even though they are a little bit fuller, let’s say each layout has more information.

That doesn’t mean you have to cover every single piece because I think that’s the great part of our books. You’re going to see some of it where you’re going to go, okay, I’ve covered a couple of those. Oh, but there’s five more pieces that I can add if I would like to just really prepare and empower my child with knowledge.

Helping Parents Overcome Fear of The Sex Talk

Anne (04:54): So talk about the feedback that you get from parents. My situation’s a little different. I do this for a living, right? So we’re talking about it all the time at my house, so my kids are really familiar with it. Say they can talk about masturbation, they ask me questions. Things are very open around here. What’s a typical parent when it comes to how do they talk to their kids about sex?

Dina Alexander (05:13): I would say you’re not typical, but parents are getting there. When we first started this, so people are just terrified and I thought it was like a Christian problem because I’m a Christian and it’s not. My atheist friends, agnostic friends, Muslim friends, Jewish friends, everybody scared to talk about some aspect of sex.

Moms AND Dads Can Have The Sex Talk With Kids

So that was kind of the first eyeopener for us in creating these. We have come a long ways. We started writing these books about 10 years ago, came out in 2015, and even just in that short amount of time, parents in some ways, their eyes are more open to understanding, oh my gosh, my kids are being bombarded by so many messages.

So we have made progress, but I would say a lot of parents, they want to leave this topic to dad and just this topic for mom. Whereas I believe that mom or dad, you can talk about any of these topics appropriately as you build that relationship, as you continue that connection with your kids that it doesn’t matter how intimidating a topic is or just because other parents aren’t talking about it, that we can’t address these.

Parents: The First & Best Source For The Sex Talk

(06:22): It’s really important that we be that first best source. And I think just again with your background, your research, my background, my research, yes, we have spent a lot more time talking and sharing that knowledge with our kids, but that’s why it’s 30 days and 30 topics.

These are big topics, but that we’ve broken it down into tiny pieces because I want every parent to know, you can do this. You’ve got this. You don’t have to be an expert. And you don’t have to be in the field.

You don’t have to have a training in sex education to cover things that they’re learning about on the playground, whether that’s anal sex or oral sex or masturbation or pornography or addiction, social media. All those things are just so interrelated with the sex talks and anybody can do it with just a little bit of study and a lot of caring for their child. You can do this.

If you don’t say anything, they won’t notice” Isn’t a Thing When it Comes to Sex Education

Anne (07:20): Can you talk about the reasons why talking about sex is intimidating to parents? I mean, I’m guessing one of them is maybe if you don’t say anything, maybe they won’t notice.

Right? The classic if you’re changing your clothes and you don’t want someone to see you, let’s say you’re at the beach, you’re changing of your wet swimsuit into regular clothes, and you can do this without anybody seeing you, but you’re not going to yell, don’t look over here, don’t look because the second you say, don’t look, what does everybody do? Everybody turns their head.

And so I think some parents have that same kind of idea that we don’t want to bring attention to this. We don’t want to be like, don’t look, and then everyone will look and then they might get the wrong information.

So there’s that, and then there’s just parents who are just felt uncomfortable in general talking about it, maybe because they don’t talk about it with their friends or their spouse or other people. So can you talk about the different barriers to feeling comfortable that parents might have?

The Generational Guilt & Shame of Talking to Your Kids About Sex

Dina Alexander (09:32): Because all of us have something when you look at say, the 30 Topics we have, or when you think about, okay, what are the things I need to cover in a sex talk? All of us have something that we’re think, oh, yeah, I can talk about that. But we also all have something that we’re like, oh, I don’t want to talk about that.

Often I would say it’s because a lot of us have had either some kind of sexual abuse in our life, some kind of trauma, something deeply embarrassing and or our parents were very uncomfortable.

Maybe they told us nothing, or maybe they were a lot of parents that thought it was healthy to not just talk about sex, but to add a little dose of shame in there. And so that’s really common in that our parents’ generation thought that that was part of the healthy sex talks, just a little bit of guilt.

More Myths About “The Sex Talk”

(10:18): Let me just throw in a little bit of why would I buy the Popsicle if you’re given the whole ice cream truck away for free kind of attitude. And some of us had that. We don’t want to put that on our kids, but we’re not sure how to avoid it because maybe that’s just in our brain.

So there’s those types of backgrounds that people feel uncomfortable, whether it’s about one thing, whether it’s about five things, but also a lot of parents are just afraid, like you said, that they’re going to create an inappropriate curiosity.

We have a lot of parents who think, oh, if I start talking about this, then they’re going to look it all up. Or heaven forbid, if my child knows how pleasurable and amazing sex is, they’re going to go out and start having sex tomorrow. And these are just kind of silly.

Curiosity is a Good Thing

(11:03): Just because our daughters know they have a clitoris and know how lovely and wonderful that part of our body is, it doesn’t mean they’re immediately going to go out next week, find a boyfriend and get laid. And so we have to think about what do I want for my child? I know that I want my kids to have a great sex life when they’re adult.

They’re mentally, physically ready, and so I’m going to teach them the positives of sex. I’m going to teach them how amazing and wonderful. I’m also going to teach them that curiosity is a good thing. That’s how we have survived as humans for thousands of years. We have to be curious.

Now, I’m also going to teach my kids though that there is an appropriate way to use that curiosity and that there are the right places and that mom that I have the answers for them.

Giving Children Correct Information About Sex Will Help Them Make Healthy Decisions

(11:53): I’m also going to let them know that there are a lot of very unhealthy messages that are incorrect, that are harmful online, and that a lot of times their friends, however, well-meaning and lovely, their friends often will have incorrect information.

So I’m not just going to say curiosity is good and leave it at that. I’m going to explain the world around them. I want to give them a good picture of what the world is so that they can make good decisions. So that’s knowing their bodies, understanding how their bodies work, understanding how the opposite gender works, et cetera, so that they can make those good healthy decisions.

Pornography is Not A Healthy Conversation About Sex

Anne (12:32): Around here we talk about how being educated about sex is important, but how pornography is not sex education. It will harm your sex life. It will harm your spouse. And it is abusive to the people in it and it’s abusive to you.

And if you are a child and you are exposed to pornography, you are a victim of sexual abuse, you have been sexually abused by the pornography and that it’s going to be confusing because there might be something interesting about it. Your body might respond to it.

That doesn’t mean that you’re bad, but it also doesn’t mean the thing is good at the same time talking about you don’t really want to be sexually aroused by violence against women. That’s just not going to be good for you in general. So if you are a little bit because the person is or something that you need to consider, this is really bad.

Practical Examples for Talking About Sex

(13:30): I’m not bad. Not the victim who’s being exploited and the porn is bad, but just the situation where my natural instincts are being literally used against me to harm me is such a dangerous situation that I don’t want to touch this with a 10 foot pole.

I mean, my kids, they’re terrified of drugs, and I don’t mean terrified. Terrified in general walking around. What I mean is if someone offered them drugs, they are going to be like, are you kidding me? Never. I’m not doing drugs. That is such a bad idea. And they feel the same way about pornography. Even if they see a hint of it, they’re like, that is not good. I’m not doing that. It’s so dangerous. I don’t even want to touch it with a 10 foot pole.

Then there’s also issues of just interacting. My son’s 14 now and then I have a son who’s 11 and interacting with girls, going swimming with their friends and a situation where they are going to be interacting with women who have bodies.

Why does that woman have a stomach?

(14:32): There’s an amusement park right by our house, and it has a water park there. And so we go there frequently because it’s literally 10 minutes away from my house. So we go there, and one time my oldest son said, Mom, I just feel uncomfortable here because these women are wearing bikinis and I feel a little uncomfortable.

And I said, well, did you know that they’re not wearing it for you? And he’s like, huh. I said, why does that woman have a stomach? He was like, he just kind of looked at me and I said, well, what would happen if she didn’t have a stomach?

(15:05): Her stomach is showing, but so is yours, right? So let’s talk about this. Why does she have a stomach? Is it for you to stare at? And then he was like, it’s so that she can eat.

And I’m like, and why does she have legs? Are her legs for you to stare at? Are they for you or are they for her? And so now my son is like, oh yeah, her legs are not for me. Her stomach’s not for me. She wasn’t created for me. She’s not doing this stuff for me. She’s just doing her own thing. And I can respect her and give her space and look her in the eyes and treat her like a person.

We Need Our Sons to View Women as People

This is a human being in front of me. Just because she’s wearing a swimsuit at the waterpark does not invalidate her as a human being who I need to take seriously, who I need to listen to and respect. And I just think stuff like that is so much more important than like, oh, okay, well if you see a woman in a swimsuit, I bounce and don’t look at her in the face.

And I’m like, what? You’re teaching your kids not to treat other people with respect, which is the opposite of what we want to do. We need our sons to view women as people.

Talking about Sex is Natural & Normal

Dina Alexander (16:21): And it’s just very unrealistic anywhere to think that you’re going to have people stay covered up all the time. I love that you are teaching that with your son because yeah, I understand how you might be uncomfortable. We’re human. We’re going to look at people’s bodies – that’s natural and normal. They’re curious. They want to see, oh, do all boobs look alike?

Again, that’s natural for a lot of kids. So I want to validate. But I also love that you’re teaching because a person is dressed a certain way, whether they’re head to toe covered because of a religious reason, or maybe it is because they’re at a water park, that they are still human and that they’re still deserving of our attention and our concern and our kindness. And like you said, looking him in the eye and focusing on them as a human being.

Healthy Sex is About Mutuality and Love

(17:12): And that is such a great way to combat the effects of pornography because all of our kids are going to see pornography as much as we protect them and train them and listen and learn. They are going to be exposed as adults, as kids, wherever. And we want them to still be able to see humans as people and not as something for me to devour, not as something for me to get off on. It’s just great education and it’s not something to be done once. And so I love that you had that conversation with your son.

Anne (17:47): We’re going to pause the conversation. Dina and I will continue our conversation next week, so stay tuned.

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