Book review: 30 Days of Sex Talks
I recently listened to a podcast reviewing an organization called Educate Empower Kids and their new book series called 30 Days of Sex Talks: Empowering your child with knowledge of sexual intimacy. On their website, educateempowerkids.org, they explain that their mission “is to encourage youth to develop a healthy sexuality through education, empowerment, communication, and love” and that the main goal of their books is to establish “a pattern of healthy conversation for the future.”
There are 3 volumes with topics appropriate for different age groups: Volume 1 is for ages 3-7, Volume 2 for ages 8-11, and Volume 3 is for ages 12 and up. As a mother to 2 young children, and having been exposed to some of the crippling dangers of pornography and our hypersexualized culture, I immediately wanted to learn more. Sex wasn’t a topic discussed much in my home growing up so I had no pattern to follow. And now exposure to inappropriate sexual content at a young age, though often accidental, is inevitable, and as a result I had been terrified about not knowing how to approach such an important topic with my children. I often talked with my husband and friends about being nervous and sought advice on how to begin. I bought the first volume of 30 Days of Sex Talks and the book has been an answer to my fears and a huge resource for our home. Because of this I wanted to highlight what I see as the best features of this amazing and powerful resource.
The books encourage constant dialogue with your children
As quoted above, the book’s (and organization’s) purpose is to start establishing open dialogue with our children on a continual basis. Due to the nature of our world we can no longer have a one-time conversation with our children about “the birds and the bees” and then think our work is done. We need to have ongoing conversations about what is appropriate and how to identify and react to things that are not appropriate. The book helps parents practice for these serious conversations and facilitates a safe space for children to approach you. The introduction of the book also stresses that parents must become the early source of correct information about sex, love, and healthy relationships for our children. Unreliable sources, like friends and media, will undoubtedly be a strong influence, but if we start the conversation first and maintain open dialogue, they will come to us with questions because these conversations will be a normal part of your relationship.
Since my daugher is only 3 I wasn’t sure if she would fully understand all of the concepts, but I wanted to start introducing the topics. Topic number 7 discusses privacy—what the word means, what we do in private, and what types of places are private. The next topic builds on that by discussing clothing and how we use clothing to respect and protect our own bodies. My daughter participated very little in the conversations, and as a result I assumed that maybe she didn’t fully understand what we had taught. So a few days later while she was getting dressed I brought up the topic and again explained that we should only be naked around parents and doctors during a checkup. Then she looked at me and said, “But Sophie helped me go to the bathroom the other day.” It took me a few seconds to process what she was saying and then I was shocked to realize that she had completely understood what I was talking about and that I need to explain further that babysitters (in this case, her aunt) would occasionally see her naked when helping her go to the bathroom or bathing. I explained the exceptions and then reminded her what to do if something ever makes her feel uncomfortable.
Big topics are broken into bite-sized pieces
Part of the reason I was overwhelmed with teaching about sex and intimacy was because it seemed like such a big topic and I didn’t know how to begin teaching at an age-appropriate level. But 30 Days of Sex Talks includes simple, concrete topics such as public vs. private, what romantic love is, our amazing bodies, what instincts are and how they keep us safe, and what to do when you feel uncomfortable. There are 30 topics in each book and they suggest that only one topic should be discussed at a time. Each lesson is very brief and provides simple sentences that help explain the topic, suggests thought provoking questions and conversation starters, and also includes activities. The book also includes a glossary at the end to help define terms and gives a code to download topic cards that you can place around your house. The small lessons are perfect for discussing one piece of intimacy at a time.
The lessons can be done in any order or speed based on your child’s age and functioning.
Even though the title is 30 Days of Sex Talks, it doesn’t mean that it has to be done in 30 consecutive days. The topics are designed to build on each other,
but I’ve found that they can be taught in any order and that you may spend more than one day on a topic if you feel that serves the needs of your child. Also, since my daughter is only 3, we will revisit the topics over and over again, adjusting to her age and level of understanding.
Each lesson is easy to tailor to your own family culture and values
The bullet points and suggested dialogues in each lesson are very brief, making it easy to tailor the discussion to your own home environment, rules, and child. It gives enough information to introduce the topic and encourage discussion, but it does not dictate exactly what should be discussed in each interaction. As a family, we have been incorporating the topics into some of our weekly family nights and have been happily surprised at how easy it is to tailor it to our beliefs.
Effective Communication is a great supporting skill to use with 30 Days of Sex Talks and can be used to discuss any topic with your child.