In this blog post, we’re going to look at why raising a kid who follows all of the sexual rules, guidelines, and dos and don’ts that you set for them doesn’t guarantee that they’ll grow up to be sexually healthy.
When it comes to raising sexually healthy children, it’s easy to assume that if I just give my kids the right guidelines/rules/expectations to follow, they’ll easily be able to make the right sexual decisions, avoiding all the messy stuff, so they can live a healthy life.
For example, If I can just teach my kid to follow these sexual rules, they’ll be good:
- Don’t watch pornography
- Don’t date until you’re 16
- Don’t have casual sexual experiences
- Don’t mix drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activity
- And always ask for consent
Then they’ll be good….right?
Raising sexual rule followers doesn’t equal raising sexually healthy children
As I’m sure you’ve guessed, raising sexually healthy children isn’t quite as simple as raising a diligent rule follower. Because here’s the thing, even if my kid follows all the rules I set for them, that does not mean they are sexually healthy. For example…
- Just becuase my kid doesn’t watch pornography, it doesn’t mean that they know how to critically analyze sex and relationships they see in the mainstream media.
- Just because my kid doesn’t date until they’re 16, it doesn’t mean they are developing vital interpersonal communication and relationship skills.
- Just because my child doesn’t engage in casual sexual experiences, it doesn’t mean they know how to engage in enriching sexual experiences.
- Just because my child doesn’t drink alcohol and engage in sexual experiences, it doesn’t mean they know to how to wisely choose a sexual partner.
- Just because my child knows how to ask for consent, it doesn’t mean they know how to confidently grant or deny consent or how to truly engage in consensual experiences.
Because here’s the thing, teaching kids how to follow sexual rules based on the values, needs, wants, and boundaries that I want for them, doesn’t actually help them build the confidence, knowledge, and skills needed to take ownership of their sexual health.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these are bad or wrong sexual rules to live by or to wish upon your child. Instead, I’m saying that by just putting these rules on your kid, you won’t actually empower them to become a critical thinker or thoughtful decision maker. Rather, as they go through life, they won’t be experiencing joy/pleasure/positivity by engaging in experiences that deeply connect to their values/needs/wants/boundaries and the emotions they experience will come from whether or not they are following (or rebelling against) a sexual rule you set for them.
Do you want to raise a rule follower or a critical thinker?
With this in mind, let me ask you, when it comes to raising a sexually healthy child, are you hoping to raise a kid who is an excellent rule follower or are you more in the business of raising a child who can think critically and make empowered decisions?
As you can guess, for me it’s not even a question. I want my children to be critical thinkers who can make decisions for themselves that enrich their lives! Now, of course there’s a time and place for following rules (i.e. wearing your seatbelt and not texting and driving). But when it comes to sexual health, because it is such a deeply personal experience and integral part of life, I want my kids to have the knowledge, confidence, and skills to make enriching decisions!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not recommending that we can’t set very specific and intentional sexual guidelines for our kids. I absolutely believe our kids need age-appropriate boundaries set for them. But we need to be thoughtful in explaining the sexual value supporting the guideline (Click here to read/watch last week’s post all about sexual values!). And then giving our children a decision making framework to follow.
Get free access to a simple and impactful decision making framework!
If raising a critical thinker and thoughtful decision maker is what you want for you kids, I have a tool just for you (think of it as a parent cheat sheet)! It’s a super simple decision making framework. This is the same framework I use with my sex ed students and that I feature in the Reimagining The Talk course.
This three-word framework will make it so easy to talk to your kids about making sexually healthy decisions (or really just healthy decisions in general). Fill out the form below to have it sent to your inbox!
Get free access to the decision making framework.
Well that’s all for now. Stay tuned for my next blog post, all about what we can do as parents to raise thoughtful decision-makers!