By Nadine Smet-Weiss
Starting the Conversations. . .
Take a deep breath. Let it out. Take another deep breath. Starting the conversations is a little like that, one breath at a time. You can do this, I know you can. And you can’t really mess it up. What’s that I hear? Is that your brain already kicking into protest gear? Your child isn’t old enough. You don’t want them to think you are giving them permission. Aren’t they teaching that in school these days? They already know everything, they know more than I do!
At Berks Teens Matter, we say, “It’s never too early, and never to late, to start the conversations.” And we are serious about that whole statement. You can begin at birth, continue throughout life, and whatever you do – make sure there is an “s” on the end of that word “conversations.” That’s the beauty of it. It’s conversations – not “the talk.” You don’t have to know all the answers, you don’t have to cram all the information into one brief and condensed period of time, and you don’t even have to do all the talking. In fact, you get to ask questions too!
I understand it might feel a little bit easier to check sexual health off the list because it is ‘taught in school,’ but truth is that health class is expected to cover a lot of topics in very little time. Sexual health is one small piece of that. Another truth, that may surprise you, is that your youth really want to hear from you about this. It may seem like it isn’t so, but survey after survey tells us otherwise. And a final truth, for now, in the words of experienced Sex Educator, Al Vernacchio, “. . . your kids know more about sex than you think they do. But your kids don’t know as much about sex as they think they do.”