Boobies and bums, boobies and bums, boobies and bums. Those words fly around my house so often that I don’t even flinch when I hear them anymore. My house is home to a 6.5 year-old boy, so boobies and bums are the funny words du jour amongst him and his little friends - ones that elicit giggles, snickers, and whispers.
Ontario has released a new sex education curriculum that has parents divided. When it comes to parents concerns and fears of the program, I understand fully, however, I definitely want my children to take part in the new curriculum and I am so glad it has been implemented.
My kids are exposed to so much more sexuality than I ever was at their age. It is a part of their life on a daily basis even if I feel they are too young. I want my son to hear the facts, not tales from his fellow 6 year-old buddies. I want my daughter to learn what's real instead of forming her own opinions in her young little mind based on how she sees women portrayed on television or movies. It shocks me a little that parents are up in arms over teaching their kids about their bodies but it's become perfectly normal to see pop princesses writhing around half-naked in music videos or shooting whipped cream out of their cone bras in a candy filled dreamland. I would think that would be a far more confusing image for my 4 year-old daughter than learning that she has a vagina and not a hoo ha.
My kids should be comfortable using correct terminology for body parts and I fully admit that I have been guilty of using incorrect names. The more they hear the terminology the more comfortable they will be and eventually the word penis or the word vagina will no longer start a cacophony of giggles. Could this possibly help protect them just a little? Maybe if they are perfectly comfortable talking about their body parts and what they do, if someone tries to touch them inappropriately it won't be as difficult for them to come talk to me about it.
We already have conversations about consent in our family and I am happy that the school will just be reinforcing what we already talk about at home. Consent is about so much more than just sex. It's about learning to respect other people's boundaries and if they learn how to respect those boundaries now then that hopefully that will translate when they become sexually active. When Ms. J is giving me too many kisses and I ask her to stop but she continues, we talk about why she needs to respect that I don’t want to be kissed right now. When we are wrestling and Ms. J gets hurt and needs a break but Mr. T. is very excited and isn’t ready to stop playing, we all take a moment and talk about why we have to give her space even though we aren't ready to stop playing.
Learning that our family isn’t the only type of family out there isn't a bad thing. They will come across families that are single parent homes, families where one parent is black and the other is white, and families where there are two mummies or two daddies- this is just reality, not something that I feel that they need to be sheltered from.
Gone are the days when someone steals their Dad's Playboy and brings it to school. Now kids are able to view disturbing unrealistic images of sexual acts right on their smartphones. Instead of being pressured to look at the centrefold in a dirty magazine, kids are being pressured to send naked pictures of themselves. Sexting is happening, people! It's a real issue that kids - yes, kids - are facing. Remember being 15? Remember how you thought you had it all figured out and nothing could break you? Teenagers still feel that way and they should learn about the things that could break them BEFORE it happens. I don’t want my kids to make a life changing mistake because they aren’t fully aware of the dangers involved, because I am too uncomfortable to talk to them about it. This is a part of their world now. It’s something they need to learn about.
Do I think that learning about sex is going to make them more inclined to go out there and do it? Not at all. In fact I think it's the opposite. We are giving them the knowledge to make the right decisions. The world is spinning so fast and I don’t want them to face it unarmed and unprepared.
Ok I’m going to be honest here. What I want is to have an open dialogue with my children about anything and everything. I want them to know they can come to me with whatever is on their minds.
The thing is, that doesn’t come natural to me. I'm not great at these uncomfortable talks with anyone let alone my kids. I am working on that but I could use some help. This is where the sex ed curriculum can help me as a parent.
If sex is being talked about on the playground and in the hallways of the school then why shouldn't we make it a part of the classroom? Sex ed itself isn't new but like it or not things have changed. The old method of starting at 12 and teaching about periods and where babies come from just isn't cutting it. Is it perfect no? Is it better than it was? Damn right! Maybe parent classes should be added to the program. Bring us in and teach us how to talk to our kids about these things.
I'm looking at this as a joint effort. They will get some education at school and they will get some education at home. If they feel uncomfortable talking to me about it then I am happy to know they will learn something more than just urban legend and what they see on some XXX site. My hope is that what my kids learn from us here at home plus what they learn in sex education at school will be enough to arm them. It will be enough to combat some of the disturbing and confusing sexual messages they receive on a daily basis. I hope it gives them a comfort level to come home and talk to me or their dad when they feel confused or have questions.
It seems as though they are starting slowly. A gradual introduction and if done correctly, it can be the beginning of a strong and healthy relationship our kids have with own their bodies and what those bodies can do.