Mother-daughter discussions to touch important topic: sex
October 25, 2016
For parents, one of the most important discussions they can have with their children is about sex.
But it can also be one of the most difficult conversations for a parent, and one few are eager to initiate. Some, in fact, avoid the subject altogether.
The People's Health Clinic and Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU), however, are hoping to make it a little easier for parents to begin. The groups are partnering to hold a series of discussions for girls aged 9 to 18 and their mothers called Linking Lives: Mothers and Daughters Teen Sexuality Series.
The free discussions, which will be offered in both English and Spanish, are scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 27, Nov. 9 and Nov. 19 and will explore topics such as body development, consent, contraception and sexually transmitted infections. Each event is set to run from 6 to 8 p.m. at Ecker Hill Middle School, and mothers and daughters are encouraged to attend all three. Child care and dinner will be provided.
Beth Armstrong, executive director of the People's Health Clinic, said she knows from raising her own children how vital it is for parents to discuss sex with their children. And the more open parents are, the easier it becomes.
"We always knew that, the more you talk about it and if you start early, you never have to broach the conversation because it's part of the fabric of the family," she said. "That's what we're trying to do with this series — make it the fabric of the family. Instead of it being something they do behind your back, there's an open conversation about it."
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The participants will initially be broken up into groups, with the girls (divided by age) and the mothers meeting separately. Then, the mothers and daughters will join into a large group to talk about the issues together.
"The daughters can be talking about their issues and their things, and the mothers can be talking about theirs," Armstrong said. "Then, they bring them together to discuss it. There's this freedom to speak about issues, then they come together and can actually have a conversation about it."
Annabel Sheinberg, education director for PPAU, said younger girls will learn about topics such as puberty, body development, boundaries and body image.
"We realize that, for a lot of (young girls), this is sort of anticipatory, something to think about that's coming," she said. "But some of them are already starting to experience some of these issues. We find it's relevant and engaging."
The older girls will learn about healthy relationships and communication, prevention of sexually transmitted infections and preventing unwanted pregnancy. Discussions for the mothers will focus on strategies to talk to their daughters about sex and how to monitor and supervise their children's behavior.
Sheinberg said mothers will leave the discussions armed with tools that could make real differences in their daughters' lives.
"We know that parents are very influential when it comes to talking with their kids about sex and sexuality," she said. "For some parents, it's not something they're used to doing or are comfortable doing. But we want to convince them they are the very influential educators for their children."
Armstrong said the People's Health Clinic has been making a big push to get the word out about the event to the underserved community, adding that people who can't attend one of the discussions should still come to the others. She is hopeful mothers and daughters throughout the community understand the opportunity the series presents.
"By talking about sex, you're not going to encourage (teens) to do it more," she said. "By talking about it, you're giving them guidance and power because knowledge is power."
For more information on the discussion series, visit the People's Health Clinic's Facebook page at facebook.com/peopleshealthclinic.
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