Recently I wrote about the topic of Respectful Relationships (see below), featured in Michael Grose's Parenting ideas. Want more ideas to help you raise confident kids and resilient young people? Subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter, Michael Grose's Parenting ideas FREE weekly email parenting guide at parentingideas.com.au
What Can Parent's Do To Promote Respectful Relationships?
Mid-late Primary and early secondary age is a critical time for our children’s development and learning skills around friendships, partnerships and relationships. The popular culture and online world they are immersed in is providing them with inaccurate and adverse messages and images about what respectful human relationships look like.
Media, advertising, fashion, music, and popular culture are infiltrated with pornography concepts and gender inequality. Themes of power of another person, sexualisation of young women and men, aggression, violence and force in intimate encounters is so mainstream now it is seen as legitimate amongst many males, as well as females, in our society.
Young impressionable people soak up this popular culture, and many have 24-hour access to it. Unfortunately this exposure coincides with their approach to and journey through, puberty.
It is important for parents to acknowledge childhood sexuality. Every human is a sexual being; this begins at birth and continues throughout their lifetime. Adolescents begin their transformation into adulthood with their sexuality changing from simple awareness of gender, body parts, conception, birth and pregnancy into experiencing some of the following normal adolescent development:
Tool kit young people need for respectful relationships and intimate partnerships:
An adequate vocabulary and communication skills
Good decision making strategies
Understanding of human sexual function and pleasure – for example: brain and skin are the two most important body parts, not just genital focus
Knowledge of how to prevent pregnancy and be free of STIs and how to take responsibility for this.
A constructed view of self – their identity, sexuality, self-belief, self esteem, a view of “who am I?”
What can parents do?
Parents/carers and teachers may feel powerless against these prominent influences, when in fact, there is a lot we can do to facilitate a culture of respectful relationships, for our young people. We need to provide them with alternative versions of relationships and sexuality.
We can start with:
Tips for parents:
After 24 years experience as a Sexual Health Nurse, 15 years as an Educator and literally 10s of thousands of conversations about Sex and Sexuality - I hope I can help you with information & support to encourage essential conversations about all aspects of Human Sexuality.