Talk Early, and Often, to Children about Sex

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), March 6, 2002 | Go to article overview

Talk Early, and Often, to Children about Sex


Byline: REBECCA NOLAN The Register-Guard

Psychologist and sexuality educator Dr. Sol Gordon has a mantra, and it is this:

When a child asks a question about sex, the first thing a parent should say is, "That's a good question."

Too many parents get hysterical, said Gordon, professor emeritus at Syracuse University and author of several books about love and sexuality for both children and adults.

"They say, `Where did you get that question?' or `Just wait until you're married,' ' he told a group of about 150 parents gathered at South Eugene High School on Tuesday night.

A hostile or dismissive reaction can give sex a dangerous appeal and may also prevent children from approaching parents in the future with other difficult issues, Gordon said.

"If your children can't ask you about sex, they won't ask you about anything else," he said.

The topic of Gordon's discussion was "How to be an `Askable' Adult," a term he invented about 20 years ago.

An "askable" parent does not react angrily to a child's inquiries, nor does he humiliate or criticize the child. Instead, "askable" parents encourage openness with their children and show that nothing will ever be worse for telling an adult about it, Gordon said.

He warned procrastinating parents to approach the subject of sex while children are young, preferably before the sixth birthday. By the time they become teen-agers, he said, children are no longer as receptive to parental influences.

But parents come up with all kinds of excuses for avoiding the topic, he said.

They fear telling a child too much, or worry that a young child won't understand fully.

Gordon recommended using a book with pictures to start the conversation. …

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