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In Print.

Below are some suggested books to help you discuss sexuality issues with your children.

All about Sex: A family Resource on Sex and Sexuality.

Our comprehensive resource will help families establish positive sexual values and encourage responsible sexual behaviors. Includes a glossary and an extensive resource section and reading list. Contact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., 810 Seventh Avenue, New York NY 10019. Tel: (800) 669-1056.

The Facts of Life: A Guide for Teens and Their Families.

This popular booklet offers parents of pre-teens and teens all the information they’ll need to discuss sex and sexuality in a comfortable and accurate way. In addition to basic information, this booklet provides explanations of boys' and girls' sexual feelings and anatomical growth, reproductive systems, masturbation, menstruation, sexual orientation, pregnancy, birth control, and STIs. Also includes information about relationships:  when they’re good for you, when they’re not, and how to handle a breakup. Contact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., 810 Seventh Avenue, New York NY 10019. Tel: (800) 669-1056.

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

Available in most bookstores, this book walks parents through a wide range of typical talks with kids, while at the same time encourages them to listen fully to what their children are saying. Contact: Avon Books, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019. Tel: (800) 669-1056.

Human Sexuality: What Children Should Know and When They Should Know It.

This pamphlet takes the mystery out of “What to say?” It aides parents to ensure that children receive sexuality education information this is complete and age-appropriate. Our helpful guide looks at the information needs of children, including toddlers, grade schoolchildren, younger adolescents, and older teens, and explains what children at each stage need to know about human sexuality and their own sexual development. Contact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., 810 Seventh Avenue, New York NY 10019. Tel: (800) 669-1056.

Talking About Sex: A Guide for Families.

This video and companion kit for families with children ages 10 to 14 contains factual information and discussion guides about such topics as anatomy, puberty, contraception, teen pregnancy, STIs, and HIV/AIDS. Cost: $29.95 (plus shipping and handling). Contact: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc., 810 Seventh Avenue, New York NY 10019. Tel: (800) 669-1056.

Becoming an Askable Parent.

This guide instructs parents on what children are experiencing at different ages (from birth to 16) to help them answer questions that both they and their children might have. It also presents typical situations in which parents find themselves as their children become curious about sex. Contact: American Social Health Association, P.O. Box 13827, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3827. Tel: (800) 783-9877. Web: www.ashastd.org.

First Comes Love: All About The Birds And The Bees - And Alligators, Possums, And People Too, by Jennifer Parmelee.

Available at most bookstores, "First Comes Love is a charming book for young children about love, sexuality, and relationships, and a wonderful introduction for parents to begin talking with their children about sexuality. The delightful rhymes and illustrations normalize the subject and create a comfortable context for parents and young children to begin this all-important conversation.” –Michael McGee, Vice Present of Education, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Contact Workman Publishing, 708 Broadway, New York, NY10003. Tel: (800) 722-7202 ext.7593.

It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, and Sex & Sexual Health, by Robie H. Harris.

 Available at most bookstores, this wonderfully illustrated book provides accurate, unbiased answers to nearly every conceivable question, from contraception and puberty, to birth control and AIDS. It’s Perfectly Normal offers young people the real information they need to know now more than ever to make responsible decisions and to stay healthy. Contact: Candlewick Press, 2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140.

Now What Do I Do? How to Give your Pre-Teen Your Messages. This booklet helps parents of 10 to 12 year-old children communicate about teen pregnancy, contraception, self-esteem, media influences, unwanted sexual attention, and homosexuality. A sister publication, Oh No! What Do I Do Now? (Also available in Spanish), helps parents communicate their values about sexuality to their children. Contact: Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, 130 West 42nd Street, Suite 350, New York, NY 10036-7802. Tel: (212) 819-9770. Web: www.siecus.org.

Talking With Your Child About Sex, by Mary S. Calderone and James W. Ramey. 

Available in most bookstores, Talking With Your Child About Sex offers answers to questions children of different ages ask about sex. Contact: Ballantine Books, 201 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022.

The What’s Happening To My Body? Book For Girls, by Lynda Madaras.

Available at most bookstores, this book is a growing-up guide for parents and daughters. It allows parents to help a young girl handle her transition to womanhood. She also offers The What’s Happening To my Body? Book For Boys. It is a newly revised edition to that includes information on AIDS, STIs, and birth control appropriate for this age. Contact: Newmarket Press, New York, 18 East 48th Street, New York, NY 10017. Tel: (212) 832-3575.

Tips for Talks.

Be clear about your values. Before you begin speaking with your child, think about your values. What do you believe about teens having sex; what does your faith community believe? You need to be clear about how you feel so you can convey your values to your child.

Talk about facts versus beliefs.

Facts may sometimes contradict your own values. Its okay to discuss the factual information about something and also convey to your child your values about this. Always give an honest and direct answer to your child's question. Letting your child know that people have different views, values, and opinions about something is always a positive thing. 

Don't worry if you don't have all the answers.

I don't know is a perfectly acceptable answer to a child's question. Responding with lets find out together is a way to promote a discussion.

Do not assume that because your child is asking questions, she/he is engaging in sexual activity.

Children are naturally curious. They may have questions because they have heard or seen something that is confusing to them. Sexual images are everywhere: on TV, on billboards, in magazines, and on the Internet. Its a good sign that they are asking you. It means they trust you.

Practice what you preach.

It can be confusing for young people to hear one thing about sexuality and then see an adult act in a way that does not support this. Acting on your values and being a good role model are powerful messages for your child.

But don't preach.

A conversation is a two-way dialogue. Don't talk AT your child. Talk WITH your child. Some of the best information about what is going on with your child's life comes from keeping quiet and listening.

Encourage a sense of pride.

All children deserved to be loved and wanted. Let them know you are interested in them as people. You want to know what they think and how they feel.

Keep the conversation going.

Talking with your child about sexuality is an ongoing process. It is not a single event. It is important to start the conversation early and to let your child know that you are always willing to talk with them. Questions and topics regarding sexuality will change and mature with age.

Keep your sense of humor!

Letting your child know that sexuality is a natural, normal part of life is a powerful message. As you become your child's primary sexuality educator, don't be surprised when your child asks you a question about sex in the line at the grocery store!

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