Be an Askable Adult!

Friday, September 25, 2015
I decided not to blog last week. The topic on my mind at that time was not mine to share. Ownership for that topic belonged to a young woman whom I’ve loved all her life. She was confused about a significant aspect of her sexual health. She was not yet diagnosed, in discomfort, and often in tears. If she hadn’t been comfortable enough to tell her mom about the situation, none of it would have been brought to my attention.

And that’s what I’ve decided to blog about now: healthy communication, especially between adults and children. It is how we learn to communicate in all our relationships. It is foundational to sexual health.

I know of girls who got their first periods and were afraid they were bleeding to death because no one had prepared them for this natural next step. I’ve heard of boys who carry shame about their erections because no one has told them how common it is to wake with ‘morning wood’. Imagine the fear and shame of trans youth whenever they have to choose between two public bathrooms, neither of which feels quite right. Nor quite safe.

Kids need to feel safe. And they need adults they can trust.

The new curriculum refers to this at many different grade levels. In grade two, learning about inappropriate touch, kids are encouraged to tell an adult they trust. This suggestion is made again in grade four when they talk about bullying. In grade six, they are told it’s natural to have questions. They might want to ask about wet dreams or vaginal lubrication, for example.

Kids know who to ask. These people identify themselves, just by the way they treat kids. If you want to be the trusted adult in a kid’s life, you have to earn it. You have to show them you won’t freak out when they have something difficult to share. That you’ll support them, even when you’re uncertain of what to say.

Be an ally. Be an askable adult.

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