Tag Archives: sex ed

Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

Every Friday I point you to some recommended reading around the blogosphere:

1. In light of my upcoming move, I was eerily fascinated by this recent interview in Salon about the psychology of hoarding.

2. I’m always in awe of people who make bold, creative moves with their careers, especially writers. So I loved learning about Henriette Lazardis Powers’ new innovation: a literary magazine that’s performed out loud called The Drum. Brilliant!

3. And while we’re on the subject of writers, you will laugh out loud at Nicola Morgan’s brilliant recounting of what it’s like when your taxi driver asks you what you do for a living.

4. On a more serious note, this true story by my colleague Sarah Wildman over at Politics Daily of what it’s like to have a baby without health insurance will – as my father used to say – “curl your hair.”

5. I’m no stranger to that most odious of rodents: the rat. So I was delighted when a friend sent me this story by Michelle Ephraim in Errant Parent about what it’s like when a rat invades your car – and your visions of motherhood.

6. If you’ve ever had to have “that talk” with your son or daughter, you’ll relate to this essay by Sierra Black on the New York Times Motherlode blog aptly titled Naked Barbies.

7. Finally, a lovely meditation by Philip Graham on why we all read. (Hat tip: Writer Abroad.)

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Parenting: Discovering How Your Kids See You

As someone who writes personal essays and blogs, I frequently use my family for material. I’ve written about my husband’s obsession with gadgetry, my son’s first exposure to sex ed and my daughter’s penchant for cross-dressing.

So I guess it was inevitable that sooner or later, the tables would be turned and I’d be the subject of something they wrote. Needless to say, this experience caught me off guard.

At the school my children attend in London, the head teacher solicits “half-term” projects from kids who want to do extra work. The kids write a report, she reads it and they get a certificate at assembly. It’s all good.

Each of my kids has jumped onboard enthusiastically with these assignments. My 8-year-old son has covered topics ranging from Tamerlane (his favorite Khan, as in Ghengis) … Team U.S.A. at the 2008 Olympics … and some of the more obscure “Star Wars” characters. (Plo Koon, anyone?)

My 5-year-old daughter’s reports have been a bit simpler: a reworking of the Cinderella narrative or a series of drawings with self-explanatory captions like “Pirate Louis Is a Pirate.”

Until now. A few days ago, my daughter declared that she’d like to do her half-term project on — wait for it — me. She asked me to download a few photographs from Picasa and then began to work in earnest.

Read the rest of this story at the New York Times Motherlode blog

Image: Writing Lesson by radioflyer007 via flickr under a Creative Commons License.

I Sexed You: When to Teach Your Kids The Birds and the Bees

I got an email from a friend a few months back. She was concerned because while her two kids were watching TV one afternoon, her 8 year-old son came in and informed her that the science program he was watching on TV was inappropriate for his 5 year-old sister. “It’s all about how snails reproduce, Mommy…”

My friend gulped. Reproduction? He knows about reproduction?

She instantly fired off an email to me and another friend asking us what to do. Because we all have kids the same age, we often share stories and swap advice on parenting. The other friend wrote back immediately: “I’m in total denial. Not touching any of this right now. Just hope the 11 year-old down the street can teach him something useful.”

My response came off as marginally more enlightened. I told her about a book called It’s So Amazing which a friend had recommended that seemed to provide the right mix of touchy-feelyness with actual information. But then I confessed that while I’d been meaning to order this book on Amazon myself for several months, I’d never quite gotten around to it. Speaking of denial…

Why is it so hard for adults to talk openly with their kids about sex? I have a friend here in London with three daughters. When she and her husband decided that it was time to “have a little chat,” her husband basically said, “Well, they’re all girls. Over to you, hon!” and left the room. After a painstakingly dull explanation of what goes where and how it all happens, her eldest daughter said “Ew! Gross! You did that with Daddy?” At which point my friend exclaimed, “Only three times!” and ran out of the room herself.

Many experts advise that the sooner you have these chats with your kids, the better. In my case, I wasn’t quite sure when to proceed. On the one hand, my 8 year-old son is still pretty naive. He calls nipples “nibbles” and uses sex as a verb, as in: “I sexed you!” But when he came home from school one day and revealed that his classmates had deputized him to look up “sexual intercourse”  in the dictionary and explain it to them, my husband and I decided that it was time to take matters into our own hands.

It’s So Amazing says that the content is appropriate for kids ages “seven plus,” so we went ahead and bought the book. And then we decided that a three hour airplane ride provided the perfect unadulterated (no pun intended) opportunity to introduce our son to the birds and the bees, with Dad sitting right there next to him.

My son devoured the book. He read every word, pored over every diagram and – according to my husband – understood it all pretty well.

At the end of the flight, I asked him if he had any questions because “You know, it’s important to ask questions about these things. And Daddy and I are always here to answer them.”

His only question: “When can I get the book for the nine year-olds?”

Oh dear.


Speaking of parenting, there’s a new book out called Parentonomics which applies lessons from economics to the art of parenting. Perhaps I’ll find further inspiration there…

Image: Birds and Bees by ap via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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