When we don’t teach kids about their bodies…
I understand that this is scary for parents
Why Your Child Needs Your Support
Our current sex education nationwide has not prepared our young people for college. Students arrive on campus where the dominant culture revolves around alcohol, sexual exploration, and a desire for acceptance and validation. They enter this culture ill-prepared to navigate it in a healthy way.
The current response on your child’s campus has likely been an increase in the education and focus on consent, which is very important. But that is only half of the picture. What is lacking on campuses in the US is education that teaches about all of the moments after consent. In the words of one student who attended one of my workshops at Middlebury College, “How can we be talking about consent when we don’t even know what sex IS? When we don’t know what we are consenting to? Why has no one ever taught me about my body before?”
Students report that their primary source of sex education, beyond the basic anatomy lessons of middle school, is mainstream pornography. Our young people are watching the objectifying and unrealistic scenes in porn and believing that this is what sex should be. This is what they are bringing into their bedrooms and trying to emulate. You know that sex is not pornography, that it is different, but they don’t. Gone are the days of simply “feeling our way in the dark” sexually, in which we were left to our human faculties of exploration and curiosity to help us navigate.
The unrealistic imaging from the media has become an unimaginable burden and demand on the sexual culture on campus, leaving students with the wrong idea about what they are supposed to do and look like in bed. When things don’t turn out as depicted, they wonder what is wrong with THEM. This is a devastating and painful internal reality for our young people.
Without a space to talk about their experiences and get in touch with their bodies, they are engaging in sexual encounters that are uncomfortable at best and traumatic at worst. They walk around campus, go to class, interact with their friends, all the while “wondering what is wrong with ME?”
My workshops and teachings offer students the chance to change this culture. As a parent, this may sound scary to you. You may be wondering, “Will my child engage in more rampant and promiscuous sexual behavior?” or “Will my child feel pressure to have MORE sex?”
What is special about my approach is that it empowers students to be more discerning in their sexual experiences and opens a learning space in which they feel safe in their questions and supported in the inherent vulnerability of sex. Most of us have never been a part of a comprehensive sex education that didn’t create more pressure, confusion or discomfort. One of the first things that I will acknowledge to your child is that there is nothing they are supposed to know about sex, and that they don’t have to pretend to be, act or feel like what they see in the media or in pornography. In naming those two simple things, it is remarkable to see so much shame and nervousness dissolve instantly.
Interwoven throughout all my work is a focus on connecting students with their bodies, rather than social expectation. In teaching them about their bodies, emotions, intuition and communication, your child will learn to differentiate between what they want and what they don’t want. They have the power to dispel social pressure and to truly listen to what they desire.
Students who are currently not sexually active will be more empowered in their decision to not engage in sex. Students who are sexually active will feel more agency in their sexuality and thus become more discerning. I do not encourage promiscuity or abstinence; rather I urge students to look inside themselves for the answer to the question, “What do I truly want?” Once they are able to answer this question, they have the power to choose what their sexual experience will look like. The result of this is a powerful shift towards discernment, agency, and empowerment.
This is as much risk management as it is empowerment for our young people. Students in college are in desperate need of this empowerment.
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