Our earliest memory of how we began learning about our sexual self will often open a part to our history that is seldom thought of or talked about, but will tell us mountains of information about our sexuality. How you began exploring your body, what others told you, what you heard, and how it all made you feel, laid the foundation for what you experience today in your sensual and sexual life.
In parent education I often begin my classes with this simple question: how did you learn about sexuality? Interestingly, if we don’t first discuss and describe what Sexuality IS, parents often jump immediately to their puberty education (or lack thereof) or their first dabbleings with another, in what I call ‘shared sexual experience’. Shared experiences usually don’t start happening until after the age of 4 or 5, so what of all those years in between? We often skip the whole beginning of our sexuality education, the part where our parents handed down knowledge, ideas, values and emotions about our bodies, about what is private or not, what is okay to do, when, and where. We learned what is okay to touch, talk about, ask about, or name from very early on.
Sexuality and sexual health education is around us all the time. Children are aware of this special aspect of life from very early on, whether it is talked about in your home or not. Whether you use scientific terminology for sexual parts, or allow your children to explore their bodies, or yours, or not, children are keenly aware and are learning how to be sexual, how to be human, from you and the world around them, all the time.
Sound like a TON of pressure? It is. But like all complex topics wrapped tightly by family, religious and/or societal values, sexuality is a precarious place of learning and teaching that gains a lot from unwrapping and examining. Exploring how you learned about sexuality, about your body and what bodies can and can’t do is a powerful exercise. Especially, the exercise of examining what you did with that information to create how you feel and what you believe today, will bring a lot of insight in to who you are, how you feel and express your sexuality, and what you are handing down to your children in their every day lives.
Our feelings, thoughts, values and emotions are often a delicate and sensitive spot but underneath the layers there is strength, clarity, and an ability to share what you want to share with your children, leaving the rest to fade with time. I invite you to explore your past and think deeply about how you want to go about one of the most important jobs you have as a parent: being the primary and most important sex educator in your child’s life.
It has already started and the journey is yours.