How Much Should I Share To My Kids About My Sex Life?

Cathy: When you’re talking to your kids about sex, how much do you share about your personal life?

Jen: That is a great question. I think that is a very….a question that’s up to each parent to figure out but some of the basic guidelines I think a lot of parents like to do is show what having good boundaries is by modeling that.

Cathy: Yup.

Jen: So they can say things like “I’m so glad you asked that question about what Mommy and Ma do in bed together and there’s some things that we like to just keep it on private. What I can tell you though is that we love each other a lot and we like to show that in ways that are private for us.” And so as kid’s age you can kind of decide what you want to share and what you don’t want to share. Some families are very open, right? They will just share all the things or they even have policies of nakedness in their home and that’s fine. Other families are more….close then decide they want to keep some things more private. So it’s kind of a personal values question.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Also probably depends on the context of the question.

Cathy: Yeah and the and the maturity of the child because each child’s a little different

Jen: Absolutely

Cathy: And you run into that a lot. You teach at schools all over this is JD Jen Devine from

Jen: Closer

Cathy: Sorry. I mingled it once. I’d open up here and I’m Cathy Vartuli from and it would like I’ve I know as my… a little kid I was very precocious and I wanted to know things and one of my sister’s was just didn’t want to know. So I think it’s partly like it’s not necessarily it’s partly age-related but it’s also like how ready are they for knowing these things?

Jen: Absolutely and kids usually parents say “I don’t want to give too much information.” That’s one of their fears but kids actually have their own boundary setting mechanisms

Cathy: Yeah

Jen: and some kids are going to be very curious and the key is to answer the question that the kid is asking and be one as short and simple as you possibly can and then stop there even though you might know you know somebody asks a question about periods you might know like a stupid amount of information about uterus is and fallopian tubes and ovulation and yada…..yada. No, they just want to know the basics. Answer the basics

Cathy: They will ask if they want….if they have more

Jen: Yeah, they’ll ask if they want more. So the kid will usually set boundaries too. They have automatic shutoff valves like

Cathy: Like two and you out

Jen: And they’ll just be like teen…teenagers just talk to the head you know younger kids will just wander off and start doing something else

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: If they’re not interested anymore.

Cathy: Yeah. Well I think it’s also important like when you said what is the child actually asking what did they need to know? It’s about them. Not about do I need to vent? If you need to vent or share your stories go find a therapist or a friend or

Jen: Absolutely and you know parse out the differences between fact-based questions and values-based questions

Cathy: Oh, yeah.

Jen: too. So a lot of times kids are also asking for definitions especially when they’re little.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: They’ve heard words or they don’t know what words mean or slang and so separating out like “oh the facts are masturbation. That’s a great word. I’m glad you’re asking.” So always be positive like affirm the question and then let them know what the facts are “oh that’s a behavior that often involves touching genitals usually in a private place that feels really nice and people do it on purpose to make the bodies feel nice.”

Cathy: I wish

Jen: Right?

Cathy: someone had told me that. I remember having so much shame because I was running in my room and you know hoping no one would catch me.

Jen: Right yet knowing it was the coolest thing you’d just discover.

Cathy: It’s like so fun but so

Jen: Right

Cathy: like don’t make any noise and be like really quiet discreet.

Jen: Right and also then there’s the values part about it which is you can language things in really positive ways which is the antidote to a really sex phobic in erotically bit culture

Cathy: The shame it’s everywhere.

Jen: Right? So you can say positive things. You can say “it’s a really wonderful thing. Our family thinks it’s a great thing that you can find pleasure in your own wonderful body and make sure you find a place where you won’t be interrupted.”

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Right? So you’ll have some privacy to do it. Great.

Cathy: And maybe let them know it’s okay to make noise when you when you masturbate.

Jen: Yeah. And if you have a private place where you can do that what would be private places? In helping a kid be really clear with that needs too.

Cathy: The shower, the yeah

Jen: Yeah. The room.

Cathy: [Inaudible 00:03:59]

Jen: Yeah. There’s something else I wanted to say but I can’t remember it.

Cathy: Well, if…if it comes back, we’ll do it in another video.

Jen: Oh, values and fact-based stuff.

Cathy: Oh, yeah.

Jen: Right. So you can also share your values about stuff. Right? So facts are this and our family has these values.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Right? And that’s going to be big in terms of the range of what’s out in the community. Right?

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Some people are very sex positive and some people also have values that are maybe have some rules about behaviors and things and so you want to be able to honor that in your family by giving the kids the values you have.

Cathy: Well, I think that’s really huge because a lot of I know the way I was raised it was we were presented things as facts that were beliefs and

Jen: Right.

Cathy: and our cult and our customs and then when I went out in the real world it was a huge shock to my system

Jen: Right.

Cathy: because I thought everybody did it our ways and I wish people have been able to say “this is how we do it. Other people

Jen: Right.

Cathy: do this” and I wouldn’t have been quite so naive or….or like totally overwhelmed with information.

Jen: Right, right and I think people default to shame and fear and sex negativity rather than to pleasure and honoring bodies

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: and isn’t it neat that we get to have this like experience of being in a body?

Cathy: Well, that’s why I value so much what you do and

Jen: Yeah.

Cathy: if you’re watching this, you rock because there’s a lot of shame and fear around this and just watching a video and starting to open up to find different ways to communicate about it and share ideas in a way that doesn’t create shame, that’s such a benefit you can give to yourself and to your children.

Jen: Yeah, especially I mean I think that I mean my one of my jobs as an educator working with children especially in puberty is hoping that they get the sense that they…..they are valuable, they are their bodies are neat and a source of information

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: and possible pleasure, they are to be honored and have their boundaries respected in every single way especially with body autonomy especially for women or people who are gender variant or people with disabilities who often are more often

Cathy: Marginalized.

Jen: experiencing abuse for marginalization.

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: Right and I want all kids to be like “wow, my body’s cool and

Cathy: They are. They’re amazing.

Jen: adults respect that.”

Cathy: Yeah.

Jen: And I get to grow up to be a healthy sexual adult and you know I always hope that adults think “oh, yeah that’s our job. We’re supposed to help our children become these healthy sexual adults not these shame filled you know.”

Cathy: Well, sad there’s so many adults struggle with it too.

Jen: Right.

Cathy: They don’t know how they don’t even know how to talk to their partner about stuff much as

Jen: Right.

Cathy: their child so. So again, thank you for being here. We’d love to hear what you think. Leave comments below and check out our other videos.

Jen: You’re so good. I’m like