Consent and Responsibility
Greetings Maybeck Parents,
It was a lively discussion last night at the MPA Talk about Consent and Sexuality--thanks to those that were able to attend! Some parents that were not able to be there asked that I provide materials. Here are tips for parents for promoting the development of healthy romantic relationships, and here are tips for parents for preventing sexual harassment and misogyny. You will find my presentation slides attached, as well.
One attendee last night asked what advice a student might give to a parent wanting to talk to their teen about sex. So I asked! Below are thoughts from a cross-section of about thirty students, from all grade levels. I'm always impressed with their wisdom and directness.
Question: What advice do you have for your parents about how how best to approach conversations with you about sex and consent?
Don't try to just quickly go through it because it is awkward. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable we will be.
Don't be judgmental. Don't be intrusive. Don't force your kid to follow strict rules that you've set; it's not your life.
Ask honest questions. Feel comfortable talking to me about it, because I'm okay talking about it with you.
Focus on safety and awareness about sex. Don't ask specifically about your child's experience, but bring up general warnings.
Start off asking questions about how I feel about consent and sex. And ask at a time that I'm relaxed and calm. Keep in mind that times have changed and that the 1980's isn't the same as 2018:).
Be free of judgment, it will only be awkward if you make it awkward, and approach the topic in the car so I can't walk away! Also, don't make it seem like the biggest deal in the world.
Let me know to stay safe and that I can call or talk to them whenever I'd hope that they first instigate the conversation with me.
Don't shame me for having sex; instead, promote that I am healthy and safe about it.
Bring up the conversation in a way that doesn't make your child uncomfortable. Don't be judgmental.
Don't talk to me like I'm a toddler, and be lighthearted and not too serious about it.
Don't be intimidating and be open to having a two way dialogue.
BE CHILL ABOUT IT!
Don't assume things. Ask questions instead of talking the whole time about what you think we should do.
Be open. Don't be judgmental or base your responses on your own past experiences. Also, for strict parents, the more you tell your kids they can't be in a relationship or have sex, the more they will want to do it! If you encourage it as a natural thing, your kids will probably want to open up to you! Keep an open mind.
Don't bug me about sex and consent. That is the school's job.
Keep it casual.
Keep it quick; I know this stuff because I am a decent human.
Don't get graphic. Give me a book or something. Be realistic.
Ask us if we know what it means and how we feel about it, and talk to us in an adult, equal, non-condescending way.
If you're going to, don't do it over text, phone, or when my friends are over. Or just don't! I would rather avoid awkward conversations.
Don't overanalyze everything:).
There you have it! Straight from your teens' mouths. As you can see, there is no one way to approach the topic, but you all are important players in your teens' lives when it comes to decision making in all arenas, including romantic relationships. Please feel free to reach out if you'd like to discuss thoughts or questions you have on the topic.
Liz Welton, LCSW
(510) 841-8489 ext. 209