Start the conversationS!
Nadine J. Smet-Weiss
I’ve been out and about here in my city for a few years now, sporting my Berks Teens Matter t-shirt and encouraging parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to ‘start the conversationS’ with the children and young people in their lives. Maybe that’s a little too vague? Make you wonder what conversationS I’m talking about? Well, maybe “conversationS” isn’t the best word. Traditionally it was never really a conversation in most families anyway. It was more like a talk, if it happened at all. The adult(s) talked, the kids listened, no question and answer session included.
So exactly what are these conversationS Berks Teens Matter is promoting in the community? I’ll be blunt. The conversationS we are encouraging parents (and other trusted adults) to have with their children are conversationS about sex. And “sex” is a lot bigger than a three-letter-word here, that’s why we are serious about adding the “S.” I mean, let’s be honest, the conversationS are happening everywhere all the time, and if you are not contributing your voice the children you love and care about are forced to fill in the blank with what they see and hear in the world around them. Imagine, for a day, that you are in your early teens. Look around with your eyes wide open. Listen, really listen. Pay attention to what you see and hear. How many media-sexed-messages bombard you? Or have you lost count already? Each of those messages is an opportunity to open the conversationS. There is a lot to talk about with each other: trust, consent, sexual orientation, gender identity, respect, communication, healthy relationships and so much more! Ask the young people in your life what they are hearing, think about your own values and share your views with each other.
If you are not sure about where or when or how to begin, you might want to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or join us in reading “for goodness sex” by Al Vernacchio (available in some local libraries and as an e-book if that helps). You can even do all three! “for goodness sex” takes a whole life sex-positive approach to sexuality education and it is our “Let’s Talk Month Read” for 2019. We are hoping lots of people will read “for goodness sex” in the coming weeks and join us in the community conversationS we plan to host during “Let’s Talk Month” (also known as October).
There are a lot of things going on. I get it, you’re busy, and starting the conversationS about sex might not always rank high on your priority list. But this is really about how we value our youth, how we care about them and want them to care for themselves and each other. Doesn’t that deserve top priority?