Times have changed. When I was a child, there were very few resources on how to talk to children about sex, much less how to raise sexually healthy kids. Today, there are good resources on the market to help parents work with children. I won’t even try to list them.
The fact that we have more resources is progress. Even with the best sex education resources for schools, families, and religious organizations, we still face issues of protecting our children from sexual abuse and human trafficking. Families today have many resources to help, and the reality is that there are also more ways for children to be sexually harmed than ever before. We can thank the Internet for both.
They are based on sensory experiences in the child’s life. Sights, smells, emotional experiences, and stimuli that get connected to sexual arousal will impact a child’s template. The Rachman study in 1966 involved exposing men to nude women wearing nothing but boots. These men would then become aroused sexually simply by seeing a pair of boots. Children exposed to loud arguments and violence who then self-stimulate for comfort may later become aroused by being verbally abused by a partner. Or a man raised in a 3rd world country who regularly sees a lady urinate may become sexually stimulated by this image, perhaps leading to a golden shower fetish. Or a man, who experienced his first erection watching ladies smoke may be aroused and develop a smoking fetish.
With massive amounts of sexual stimulation in our culture, it’s no wonder that parents feel overwhelmed and desperate in facing these challenges.
Clearly, as noted, the items listed are how NOT to raise sexually healthy kids.
So many of the resources on developing sexual health in children involve teaching them boundaries in relationships, finding ways to protect them from abuse and online predators, and being able to talk to kids about sex. The struggle I find that most parents experience is that they never had good sex education and are struggling to overcome their own internal barriers to sexual health. Perhaps it’s dealing with past sexual trauma in your own life, or a problematic sexual behavior, or negative messages about human sexuality. Focusing on intimacy development becomes hard if you have an intimacy disorder. In 2004, I conducted surveys in problematic sexual behavior groups for men. One question was about past traumas. The number one answer was “I was never taught about sex.” A pattern I’ve noticed in 25 years of working with people with problematic sexual behaviors was that they had no healthy sex education or discussions about sexuality with their parents.
I encourage people to take advantages of the resources at www.sash.net for help with raising sexually healthy kids, as well as, other struggles. Seek out a therapist who specializes in sexual health issues. The therapeutic process can be helpful in addressing your own anxiety in parenting.
Richard Blankenship, LPC, NCC, CPCS, CBTS, CSRRS is the clinical and administrative director for the Capstone Center for Counseling, DBT & Relational Trauma and the Capstone Center for Sexual Recovery & Transformation; a program for male addicts, female addicts, spouses/partners of sex addicts, couples in recovery, and services for children & adolescents. Richard is one of the founders of the Association for Partners of Sex Addicts Trauma Specialists (APSATS) where he served for over 4 years. Richard is a frequent guest on Atlanta area radio & television programs dealing with sexual addiction, spouses/families of addicts, and domestic violence. He is the author of the LIFE Guide for Young Men, and a Journey Through Secrets. He is the co-author of Spouses of Sex Addicts: Hope for the Journey (book & workbook) and the LIFE Guide for Couples. Richard holds two master’s degrees; an M.Ed. from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and an M.A. From Harding University Graduate School. Richard is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) with the state of Georgia, a nationally certified counselor (NCC) with the National Board of Certified Counselors, a certified clinical hypnotherapist (CCH), a certified clinical sexual & relational recovery specialist (CSRRS), and a certified clinical betrayal trauma specialist (CBTS) through the Addo recovery network. Richard is also a certified professional counselor supervisor (CPCS) through the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia. He is married with two children and has worked with churches and counseling centers for over 25 years.