Sex and #RelationshipEd: A Mum’s Perspective
By Lauren Gasser, 20 February 2015
Kate Nicolle, a OnePlusOne Trainer who works with frontline practitioners to improve relationship support, shares her experience of teaching two teenage sons about healthy sex and relationships.
Navigating the unpredictable seas of your relationship with your child is one thing, helping them to learn about relationships with other people is another thing altogether. You suddenly become acutely aware of your own relationship hang ups. All the things you know you do badly in your relationships, all the times you have stormed off in a huff or pretended there was nothing wrong, when clearly there was. You realise that maybe you’re not always the grown up you thought you were. Now you are charged with helping your child to learn the art of successful relationships….gulp!
Even more nail biting than that is the obligatory chat about the birds and the bees, which you always knew you would have to do. But now you have to guide them through the dos and don’ts of relationships on social media. Lots of parents didn’t grow up with this social curve ball, but we now have to somehow guide our children through what is a vast canyon of emotional sweaty moments. Frankly it’s nothing less than terrifying. We don’t just have to worry about our children talking the oldest looking boy they know into buying them a magazine off the top shelf, we have to worry about how we go about talking to them appropriately about the use of pornography and what ‘grooming’ is.
When I was young, grooming meant brushing a horse clean!
The world of relationships has changed so much for young people. You can report your relationship status for all to see on Facebook, you can send pictures of your bits and bobs in an instant (eek!) and you can be unceremoniously dumped by text message. This is all new to many parents and we are learning on the job about how to support the young people we are bringing up, to guide them towards having healthy relationships and sex lives.
Whilst it’s easy to feel like the world has taken a turn for the worse, I do see a sparkle on the horizon. My kids are so much more aware than I ever was as a child. I didn’t even know you could be gay! My kids think that’s no different a thing about you than the colour of your hair and I love that. They know what child abuse is, they know what STDs are, they know not to expect every girl they ever date to have boobs that stay up when they take their bra off! None of this was ever part of our relationship knowledge and it should have been.
I love that I can talk to my children freely about the things that would have made me want to vomit with shame when I was growing up.
I truly believe that one of the best gifts we can give the next generation is the space to speak freely, to ask questions about relationships and sex. Knowing that it’s ok to be inquisitive, but when not to take risks, is a life skill we can teach them. They need it more than ever in the on-line world we are all still learning to live in. I don’t ever want to scare my children and I want to embrace how open minded they are. Relationships are what make the world a more fun place to live in… most of the time.
If you would like further support in helping young people navigate their way through the world of sex and relationships, visit LoveSmart, the site that answers all the tough questions young adults have about intimacy, consent, jealousy, confidence and much more.