Ask Dr. Mary

Sex in the News: And other tough questions

For weeks, my children have been talking about the sex scandals surrounding the President. How should I respond when sex is in the news?

The first rule of talking about sex is to let your child raise the issue. On the other hand, when sex makes headline news you have an invitation to open the discussion.

Determine what is appropriate to discuss, and remember the commandment to "put the best construction on everything." Rather than repeating gossip, help your child understand what he needs to know.

Before you talk with your child, decide what you're comfortable sharing. Otherwise, you can blunder into a situation and then say, "Whoops, I don't know how I'm going to say this."

Then, decide what is appropriate to share with your child. Here are some guidelines:

  1. Younger kids see life as right and wrong and need to hear simple, clear guidelines about God's gift of sex.
  2. Older kids see things differently. As the mother of older teens, I've been shocked at terms that have crept into our dinner-table discussions. Teens tend to latch on to whatever is juicy or somewhat gross. If possible, avoid over-reacting. Let your teen talk it out.

Then, if children use street language, you might say, "Well, that's really not an appropriate word; it's called this (and use the proper terminology)."

Regardless of your child's age, establish yourself as an askable parent: "If you hear anything else, let me know, and we'll talk about it."

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May 25

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