"As a parent, you have the primary responsibility for promoting healthy knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and skills – whether they’re about sex or relationships or eating or exercise."
I was an incredibly rebellious teenager, who acted out through sex, drugs, alcohol, skipping school, and generally hanging “with the wrong crowd.” I put that saying into quotations, because my parents told me that a million times, if they told me once. Then, they were just my friends. People just like me, with issues and unhappiness and general teenaged angst, and my parents just couldn't understand. Well, now I am a parent, and I do understand, and I want my kids to have the knowledge to make the right choices, when they enter that confusing time known as the teen years.
My girls are currently 5, 3, and almost 2. All of them know what their vagina is called, and the older two know that boys have a penis. I have taught my children the proper names for the private area for several reasons: 1. I do not want them to be embarrassed about their bodies. I want them to love and accept themselves as they are, and to not be embarrassed by the human body in its various forms, as they come across them through art, media, and personal experience. 2. If my children were to come home and refer to their vagina as something other than a vagina (i.e., cupcake, cherry pie, some other cutesy name), I would know to be alerted about who they came into contact with, and to ask them where they may have heard the new term. In following this line of thinking, I hope to keep an open path of communication with my girls. 3. It is my responsibility to teach my children about sexual health and education.
One thing I have learned from having children is that they all go through a phase of exploration. All of my girls have touched themselves intimately. I hesitate to use the word masturbate, at some point their development. This is completely normal and natural, as they discover what feels good to them. They have no concept of sex and no sexualized thoughts; it just feels good. Rather than shaming my children for touching themselves, I encourage my girls to do so only when they are in their own room, with privacy. I believe that a part of being a strong, independent woman is the knowledge, acceptance, and embracing of one’s sexuality.
I have just begun the process of educating my children about their bodies and their sexuality, in all its forms, with no end in sight. This is my responsibility as a parent, a responsibility that I believe is vitally important for our youth.