Teen Sexuality

What Every Parent of a Boy Needs to Know There’s no denying that raising kids is the hardest job out there. It can be especially challenging to raise boys as we navigate certain challenges that we haven’t really talked about as a society. That’s why we chatted with Investigative Journalist, Emma Brown, author of To Raise A Boy about what it means to be a boy and a parent of a boy circa 2021. By Julyanna Trickey What prompted your idea to write To Raise A Boy? I was home with my six-week-old son when the first Harvey Weinstein story broke. As I was nursing my son, I was scrolling through all of those stories and the flood of stories that came out after about men mistreating women. I asked myself how can I raise my son to be different? This question set me on a journey to talk with people from different parts of the country. I talked to hundreds of researchers, coaches, teachers, parents, and boys and men themselves. And what I learned was unexpected. From start to finish, was there anything that changed your original hypothesis about raising boys? Starting this journey, I thought that life’s a lot harder for girls growing up because of all the messages being aimed at girls about girlhood and being a woman. But what I learned was that this was an overly simplistic view and things are pretty tough for boys, too. They face a ton of messages about who they’re supposed to be, which can be really difficult for them to navigate. I was really astonished at the amount of shame boys feel when they try to break out of what we have traditionally told them about how to be a boy. I was also shocked to learn that this produces not-so-great outcomes for men and their mental health. In my book, I quoted a scholar who studies the gender of adolescents aged 10-14 all over the world and his work showed that boys in that age group face more neglect, physical violence, and sexual abuse by adults than girls do, which was so shocking to me.  It upended the way I thought about how boys and girls live through the world. The most profound shift for me was coming to feel huge empathy for what boys deal with and a huge desire for when it comes to my son and other boys to do better by

How to Talk to our Girls about Sex and Pleasure   By Amy MacLachlan “Pleasure is not synonymous with sex,” says Melissa Pintor Carnagey, author of Sex Positive Talks to Have with Kids. “Pleasure is with us our entire lives. It’s a birthright. And it’s through pleasure that we come to know ourselves and the world around us.” Carnagey is the founder of Sex Positive Families, an organization devoted to teaching parents and young people how to talk about sex. Having raised three children, including a daughter who is now 21, she is seeing the positive effects of openly and intentionally teaching her kids to be proud of their bodies, to trust their intuition and that sex is a good and pleasurable thing. “When we talk about pleasure, we’re actually talking about how girls can keep themselves safe,” says Carnagey, who is also a social worker, having spent 15 years in the area of HIV and sexual health. “Teaching children about consent from a very young age and talking about how pleasure is a force in all aspects of our lives, actually prepares them for when they do have sex.” There are all too many alarming stats and stories about things like girls and body image; pressures around giving oral sex and texting naked photos; and consent and safety issues. According to Carnagey, talking openly about pleasure teaches girls to get to know their bodies and to be comfortable with what they can do. It also empowers them to voice their needs and desires — something girls often aren’t allowed to acknowledge. On the flip side, it teaches girls about personal boundaries, and to know when things don’t feel good. “By erasing pleasure from sex ed, we’re failing to prepare our young people for safer, more satisfying experiences,” she says. Teaching girls about pleasure isn’t just about sex, then. It’s about laying the groundwork for healthy relationships, with others and with themselves. But where do we start? Isn’t it awkward? What should parents say? First, relax. Second, be encouraged that honest conversations about this sort of stuff are a great opportunity to connect and build a trusting relationship with your daughter. Third, keep reading. There are ideas and tips (and lots of reasons why!) to talk to your tweens and teens about pleasure and sex. Start with self-reflection Sara Dimerman is a psychologist working with children and teens and believes that when parents struggle with talking about sex, some self-reflection might be

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch "13 Reasons Why" With Your Teen Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why has gained an incredible amount of popularity and criticism ever since its debut in 2017. The show tackles difficult issues like sexual assault, suicide, gun violence and bullying. Because of the explicit content of the show, parents have remained wary about their children watching it. However, Gary Direnfeld, counselor for over 35 years, says parents should not only let their teens watch the show but they should watch it with them. Here’s why. YOU CAN DECODE WHAT’S HAPPENING: The first reason to watch it together would be to help your teen decode some of what is happening on screen. “Sometimes watching intense, graphic scenes can be traumatic for people and it can overwhelm them,” says Direnfeld. “Having a parent there to help interpret what is going on, to provide support and emotional safety, can help the child integrate the experience without it being traumatic.” YOU CAN ASK HOW IT AFFECTS THEM: Talking to your child about how the show makes them feel is another good reason to watch it together. “Asking about the kind of impact that it has on your child is important because they could be going through something similar and it would be unhealthy for them to go through it alone,” says Direnfeld. “The thing that 13 Reasons Why teaches us is that children are exposed to explicit and extreme material on the Internet and we want to help them cope with that stream of material before they are actually exposed to it.” YOU CAN ASK WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH: Watching the show together can be a catalyst to discovering what your teen is going through. Some teens suffer from anxiety or depression or have gone through traumatic experiences and may feel shame and embarrassment, but having a parent to talk to offers them a way to figure those experiences out. They can learn how to manage and respond. YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES AT SCHOOL: Watching the show together gives parents a chance to ask their teen about their experiences at school, while also being able to instill their own morals and values, says Direnfeld. “Regardless of how a drama is critiqued, the explicit content is still there, and it exposes our children to behaviour that can be frightening and overwhelming,” he says. “From my perspective, it is what