October Is “Let’s Talk Month”: Communicating with Your Children About Sexuality

The following is a guest post by Planned Parenthood Arizona’s Director of Education Vicki Hadd-Wissler, M.A.

“How do you know when you are in love?” “Where do babies come from?” “What is erectile dysfunction?” If you are a parent, or an important adult in the life of a child, chances are you have heard questions like these from a child in your life at one time or another. The last question was one I received from my son several years ago, right after he saw a TV commercial for Cialis. How we respond to these questions, especially if we are open, honest, and reassuring, goes a long way in creating a sexually health adult.

This month, we’ll conduct three parent workshops in Phoenix and Tucson to empower adults with age-appropriate strategies for discussing sexuality with the children in their lives.

October is “Let’s Talk Month,” a national event organized by Planned Parenthood and more than 50 other organizations to promote family communication about sexuality. Let’s Talk Month gives Planned Parenthood Arizona a chance to spotlight what we support all year long: parents in their role as the primary sexuality educator of their children. There is an abundance of research that reinforces the positive role parents (and other important adults in the life of a child) play in influencing their youth’s sexual decision making. The more parents can “normalize” conversations about sexuality and sexual health, making sure that their kids know that they can ask questions and that their parents want to be an honest resource for their questions, the more likely their kids will seek them out for information.

Many parents may have grown up in households where sexuality was not discussed, or limited only to the “big talk” about sex. Silence about sex speaks volumes — that sex is not a natural, normal, healthy part of being human, and our home is not a place to talk about this topic. As hard as it may be to start the conversation, “teachable” moments happen every day, like the Cialis commercial did for me, and provide a chance for parents not only to clarify misinformation, but to share their values about sex and relationships. Listening to what your child has to say is as important as talking with them. Their reality, especially as teens, can look very different from yours. Every phase of a child’s growth will present different situations and different questions. Chill out! Be open and let talking about sex be a part of your lifelong relationship with your child.

Here are a few positive messages about sexuality to convey to your child, no matter what the age.

Sexually healthy people receive messages that help them to …

  • appreciate one’s own body.
  • interact with people in respectful ways regardless of gender.
  • express love and intimacy in appropriate ways.
  • avoid exploitative relationships.
  • recognize their own values and show respect for people with different values.
  • recognize what is personally “right” and act on these values.
  • take responsibility for and understand the consequences of their own behavior.
  • enjoy sexual feelings without necessarily acting on them.
  • communicate effectively with family, friends, and partners.

In recognition of Let’s Talk Month, Planned Parenthood Arizona is hosting three workshops — two in the Phoenix metro area and one in Tucson.

We may call them “parent” workshops, but being a parent is not a requirement for attendance! Our Being an “Askable” Parent and Parents as Sexuality Educators workshops are open to anyone, regardless of the age of their children. We’ll be discussing strategies for age-appropriate ways to communicate about sexuality with your children, whether the kids in your life are toddlers or teenagers. Our Parent and Teen Workshop, as the name suggests, is meant for parents and their teens 13 and older. We will be offering these three unique workshops at three different locations.

Being An “Askable” Parent — The focus of this workshop is helping parents to identify messages they received about sexuality growing up and identify their personal goals for their children around the issues of sexuality

Parent and Teen Night — This highly interactive workshop provides parents and teens with an opportunity to learn more about sexuality issues that goes beyond factual information and helps facilitate future conversations.

Parents as Sexuality Educators — With this workshop, parents become familiar with sexual development across the lifespan and examine their own values and attitudes related to their role as the primary sexuality educator of their children.

To reserve your spot, email Education@PPAZ.org or contact Gaby Zaravia at 602-263-4238.

To find out more about these and other Planned Parenthood Arizona parent workshops, go to www.ppaz.org and click on the Education and Training drop-down menu. And to learn more about communication between parents and teens on the subject of sexuality, look at the results of a national survey conducted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Family Circle magazine.


Parents as Sexuality Educators
October 16, 2012
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sanger Administrative Office — Large Conference Room


Parent and Teen Night (This event is being sponsored by GateWay Early College High School)
October 18, 2012
6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
GateWay Early College High School
108 N. 40th Street
Phoenix, Arizona
Room MA 2305

Being An “Askable” Parent
October 24, 2012
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
PPAZ — Phoenix Administrative Office
Boardroom 1 & 2