Kerry Lifeline

Sex Education and Parents

Sex Education and Parents

For parents, the whole area of ‘sex education’ can feel like a minefield. How do you bring it up? What do you bring up? What do they need to know? How much do they need to know? Considering that most parents’ own experience of sex education may have been either sparse or non-existent, the whole area can be a bit over-whelming.

Quite often we approach the area of ‘sex education’ as something to get done (and over with!!). Have you ever asked your friends ‘Did you give him the talk yet?’ Have you ever breathed a sigh of relief when you have received a note from the school asking for your permission for your child to attend an RSE (Relationships and Sexuality Education) talk! If only it were that simple. We now know that RSE needs to encompass so much more than just biology and facts. This is vital as our young people are bombarded with messages from media – TV, movies and social media. In fact we now know that for many young people the internet has become the ‘default sex educator’.

Our approach to RSE therefore needs to counteract and challenge these influences. Our experience at SouthWest Counselling in delivering workshops in secondary schools is of having to correct misunderstandings and re-educate young people. Often we hear that young people would like parents to be able to talk to them about relationships and sex however our experience is that many parents baulk at the idea of it ..’Oh God that is embarrassing’ they say or ‘sure they don’t have a clue’. This is why the ideal scenario is for schools and parents to work together to support and educate our children.

So where does the parent begin – remember don’t let the phrase ‘you don’t have a clue’ put you off. First of all – have faith in your ability to influence your child. You are doing it already. Sex education is happening continuously in the home where your messages and values are absorbed by your children. They learn through our relationships where respect and empathy are valued, through touch and behaviour, and through messages spoken and unspoken.

Suggestion for the week: Take time to link with your teenager and look for ‘teachable’ moments. So for example take time to watch a TV programme with them. Maybe you could make a comment on something you are seeing – the story lines in Home and Away should give you a lot of cues – e.g saying ‘I’m not sure that was a respectful or healthy way to deal with a relationship problem’.

From our work with young people, it appears more and more young people are viewing pornography at an earlier age. The average age globally that a young person first views pornography on the internet is 11 years – ‘but here in County Kerry that can’t be the case. can it? We will discuss this in more detail next week and how to address the topic of pornography with young people

South West Counselling Centre will run workshops in the Autumn on “Sex Education – What parents can do”
SouthWest Counselling Centre Killarney provides affordable professional counselling to children, adolescents adults and couples – both at its Killarney Centre (Lewis Road) and at Kenmare Family Centre. Kerry LifeLine provides FREE counselling and support to anyone feeling suicidal or bereaved through suicide. To make an appointment call 064 6636416.
SouthWest Counselling Centre is a not-for-profit organization. All funds raised through fundraising go directly to service provision.