Help Me Teach My Kid About Consent

Hi Yana,

I have a seven-year-old son and I want to start teaching him about consent. Do you have any resources and tools for me as a parent to help him learn about consent as a kid?

— Proactive Parent

Dear PP,

The brilliant Dutch sex education curriculum starts what they call “sexuality education” early and often for their students. Children as young as five years old start talking about respecting their own and others’ bodies and making choices that feel good to them in this model — essential building blocks to the gender-and-sexuality-inclusive, medically accurate, and consent-focused sex education they receive in their public schools as middle and high school students.

And they do so with impressive outcomes: Research done at our very own UMass Amherst in 2011 found that among 12- to 25-year-olds in the Netherlands, most say they “wanted” and had “fun” during their first sexual experiences. By comparison, a 2004 national survey done by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy reported that 66 percent of sexually active American teens surveyed said they wished that they had waited longer to have sex for the first time.

Teaching consent early on in your child’s life matters and can happen in small, everyday ways. Conversations about consent don’t even need to be tied explicitly to sex, though they can be, to make a positive impact on the consent practices used in their future sexual interactions.

Teach your child to ask other people, especially his peers, questions such as “Is it okay if …?” before he touches them or their things. Set an example with your own actions by asking people these same questions, especially in his presence.

Tell your child that he’s the only person who owns his body and help him set his own physical boundaries. Require other children and adults in his life to ask permission before hugging, kissing, picking up or otherwise touching him. (Yes — even family members.)

When your child makes a statement that he doesn’t like a particular physical touch — for example, when people tousle his hair— teach him what he can say to assert that boundary. For example, he might tell someone: “It’s okay if you hug me, but please don’t touch my hair.”…continue reading…


Is It Okay to Quit Sex?

I’m a relatively young woman who enjoyed an active, above-average sex life for my entire adult life, even after the birth of my first two children. However, I found that after my last son was born, my desire for sex suddenly vanished to the degree that I can say that I could be completely happy — and even possibly happier — if I never had another sexual encounter with a partner or even alone.

This obviously poses an issue in my marriage. I know that you aren’t a doctor or anything, but I was just hoping to get your thoughts on the issue, as someone who has been involved in open sexual dialogue.

I recently wrote some tips to a new mother whose sex life was floundering in the column “New Mom Needs to Get Some.” My advice focused on finding ways to incorporate sex more creatively into their new routines as parents and to take part in non-sexual activities together to foster a more sexually charged atmosphere between them.

For you, however, MMAS, it sounds like parenting isn’t necessarily getting in the way of your sex life but that you’ve come to realize that sexual activity is no longer a priority, or possibly even a desire, for you.

I want to throw the term “asexuality” out there for you to either pick up and try on for size or to just leave on the floor if it doesn’t fit you. Asexuality is an identifier used to describe oneself as a person who does not experience sexual attraction and/or has a low or absent interest in sexual activity, considered by some as its own sexual orientation.

The research around asexuality is new, but many sex bloggers have been recently speaking to the asexual experience to bring attention to the idea that not everyone wants to have sex — gasp! To say that our culture is sexually charged would be an understatement — sex is used to sell us everything from sandals to soap. We spend truckloads of cash trying to cum and assume that we’re broken when we can’t, and obsess over how long it’s been since we’ve gotten laid. But what happens when we just don’t want to?

It’s possible, MMAS, that you just don’t want to have sex. And that’s your choice. If what you say is your truth — that you feel happier without sex — then follow your bliss. If you feel like there are underlying traumas or triggers that are preventing you from enjoying sex, then that’s something you might consider addressing with a sex-positive counselor.

The challenge here is that your sexuality and sex life are tied to another’s — your spouse’s...continue reading…


New Mom Needs to Get Some

Recently I listened to Dan Savage talk on the podcast “The Longest Shortest Time” about sex and parenting. The question of how to keep a sex life alive and also co-sleep with your baby came up. He basically said, “Just don’t co-sleep.” Super unhelpful. So, I’m looking to my number one sex columnist for help!

Here’s the Q: I’m a newish mom of a nine-month-old baby. My partner and I have decided to continue to co-sleep with our daughter until we’re ready for a transition. How can we keep our sex life alive when our bedroom is now a family zone? What advice do you have for new parents during the first year of parenthood? I feel like I’m finally getting my sex drive back and despite having a baby in my bed I’d like to get it on.

I’ve never had a baby myself and don’t know much about them. My boyfriend and I co-sleep with our dog and our cat. They are quick to give us our privacy when we want to get busy. Therefore, I don’t have many opinions about whether you should or shouldn’t co-sleep with your baby. But I certainly don’t think you need to structure your parenting styles around the ease of your sex life.

Co-sleeping with baby certainly isn’t the only obstacle sex has ever needed to overcome; stressful jobs, long distance relationships, and physical injuries all disrupt the sex lives we’re used to having with our mates. But the best sex lives are adaptable, adventurous, and creative. And the sex you and your partner now need to explore is just more of those things.

Here are my suggestions on what to do when you need a new routine…continue reading…


The V-Spot: The Sex Talk


The V-Spot: The Sex Talk

My dad gave me The Sex Talk one night during my freshman year in high school. We were driving home in his car. As he did his best to stammer through the basics of STD transmission and cautionary tales of unwanted pregnancies, I kept one hand on the truck’s door-handle, debating the pros and cons of an attempted tuck-and-roll. Time turned to molasses, and when I had finally latched onto the sweet salvation that we were only a mile from the house, he pulled the truck over so that we could get through everything The Sex Talk required.

I had already been having sex for months before that conversation happened, had already learned terms like “69” from my older cousins and “that the dude puts it inside the woman” from my first-grade best friend.

Despite the lateness and embarrassment, The Sex Talk with my father taught me that my dad cared about my physical and emotional well-being and that he was there for me during this confusing, exploratory time in my life.

This week, I chatted with fellow local sex educator Brooke Norton, an expert at helping parents talk to their kids about the birds and the bees.…continue reading…


My 12-year old is watching porn. Now what?

I’ve enjoyed hearing you speak on the sexpert panels at the Platinum Pony. Your name popped into my head today after learning my 12-year-old son has begun to dip his toes into the world of online porn. I knew it was going to happen. I just hoped it wouldn’t be so soon.

I’m planning to have a talk with him. His dad and I aren’t together and he doesn’t seem to think that this warrants a conversation. I do. Porn has its place, but not so much in the early stages of development in one’s erotic profile. I want to be that mom who has the ability to make talking about sex easier and even normal if possible. You mentioned that you teach sex education workshops for teens. Do you teach or have resources to offer parents of tweens?

Do I teach workshops, you ask? You bet your bottom orgasm I do! I teach workshops on everything I write about: G-spots, prostates, vibrators, lube, kink, polyamory, etc. Like my writing, my sex education style is normalizing, light-hearted, and pleasure-positive….continue reading…


Sweet (Sex-Positive) Sixteen

My eldest daughter is now 16. I’ve had to cover the sex talk basics as her mother (we’re divorced) is FAR more conservative (and shall we say repressed) than I. How do I, as a father, steer my daughter towards a more sex-positive outlook when it’s clear she isn’t getting the same feedback when she’s with her mother? Is there ever a time/approach where it’s appropriate to get her a vibrator? Do you just enlist a female friend for such duty?

Now wouldn’t it be nice if I could just tell parents that their teenagers will happily sit down for sex talks with them, fully absorb all of the information given, and then apply it rightly to their impending sexual explorations? (Because that’s what we did as teens, right?)

Unfortunately, the second something comes from a parent (even if you’re a cool, sex-positive parent and even if it’s an awesome vibrator) it’s just not that cool anymore. (Do kids even say “cool” anymore?) Continued…