346: How to Tackle “The Talk” // Rowena Thomas

It can be so intimidating to have “the talk” with our kids! But it’s also so important. This past month, we’ve been talking all about nurturing our romantic relationships and learning skills for navigating conflicts, building emotionally mature connections, and communicating about vulnerable topics such as intimacy, sex, and desire. So, this week’s episode is, in a way, a continuation of that same theme. How much more equipped will our children be for their future romantic relationships if we start talking to them now, in age-appropriate ways, about their bodies, their relationships, and their impact on other people? 

Our guest today, Rowena Thomas, is passionate about parents becoming their children’s most important sexual health educators. She shares that she started her period when she was very young, and her parents hadn’t previously talked with her about puberty, so she had no idea what was happening. Conversations about puberty, sexuality, and everything in between can be extremely intimidating for parents. It feels awkward, and we worry we’re sharing too little, too much, or that we’re going to get it all wrong. Stories like Rowena’s help me remember how vital it is that we give our kids the information they need to navigate growing up. And thankfully, there are people like Rowena in the world to help us with “the talk,” which actually ends up being a bunch of conversations!

Rowena is the facilitator and owner of Amazing Me, an organization which delivers sexuality programs in primary schools in Australia for children, parents, caregivers, and teachers. She has been married to her incredible husband for 34 years, and they have three adult children. Rowena and her husband also run a charity in India where they educate approximately 600 children and run community projects. I loved the insightful ideas Rowena shares in this interview about how to be a sex educator for my kids, and I know you’re going to find it valuable as well. 

 

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3 Takeaways to Help You Tackle “The Talk”:

 

    1. Start conversations around sexual health when a child is very young and keep conversations going. Remember, sex is not just about intercourse. Start by teaching your child the accurate names of their body parts. Talk to them about bodily autonomy, so they know they are the boss of their bodies. Also, remember, sexual health is not just about our physical bodies. It’s also about relationships, friendship, consent, and boundaries. You can start small with these conversations. Remember, it’s never too early or too late. If you feel awkward, just tell your child how you’re feeling and push through your resistance. As Rowena reminded us in the interview, “We are protecting our kids when we educate our kids.”
    2. Challenge your mindsets and stereotypes around sexual health. Let’s be sure to focus on the beauty of sexuality and communicate with our children that it can be a source of great joy when in a healthy, committed relationship. We can also celebrate puberty, instead of talking about it in super negative tones. It can be a time of growth, confidence, and independence! The way we introduce these topics will set a tone for our children’s experiences with them. 
    3. Be an askable parent about any topic. It can be easy to freeze when our children ask something that seems more mature than we thought they were ready for. However, it’s important that we stay calm and open when they come to us with questions. As Rowena pointed out, our reaction will either keep the door open for future questions or it will slam the door shut. We really don’t want our kids going elsewhere to find answers to their questions about sexual health, so we might as well push through our discomfort and show up for them. You can always answer questions through the lens of your values, but be honest, positive, and as shame-free as possible. 

 

>>>Are these tips from Rowena helpful? What did you learn about tackling “the talk”? Would you add anything? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Mentioned in the Episode:

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