By David F. Rooney
If you’re a parent with pre-teen children you know it’s only a matter of time before your boy or girl starts wondering about things like sexuality.
Are you going to wait for them to ask you about that sensitive subject? Or are you going to preempt them and raise this issue yourself? Or, perhaps, are you going to cringe and hope someone else will talk about it?
If you haven’t figured out how to deal with that kind of scenario you should probably attend the Opt Clinic’s free Askable Adult Workshop at Begbie View Elementary School on Monday, April 27. Led by Kristen Gilbert, education director for BC’s Options for Sexual Health organization, this three-hour workshop, which starts at 7 pm, will help you determine when and how to talk about all kinds of difficult subjects like:
- Emotions and feelings;
- Family values;
- Intimacy and relationships;
- Gender and sexual identity; and
- Sexual health.
These are all subjects that make many parents twitch in part because “not a lot of us have practical experience” talking about them, she said in an interview on Thursday, April 23.
“Most people don’t know where to start,” said Gilbert who has been teaching for Opt since 2006.
Once a volunteer birth control counsellor in Opt’s Vancouver clinic, she began working at the provincial office when she graduated from Opt’s pilot Sexual Health Educator Certification program. Based in Vancouver, she spends most of her time teaching in BC schools, alternative programs, community settings, and with youth in custody.
One thing she has learned in all that time is that sexuality is one of the few areas many people would prefer their children to be ignorant about for as long as possible. And that’s the wrong approach.
While a certain amount of sex education is provided at school, children are absolutely better off learning about sexuality from their parents.
What constitutes sexuality?
Here’s what Opt’s website has to say about it:
“Sexuality is not just about SEX, although people often define sexuality in terms of genitals, what we do with them, and who we do it with.
“Sexuality begins before birth and is a lifelong learning process until we die.
“Sexuality involves and is shaped by many things, including:
- values and beliefs;
- physical attributes;
- sexual characteristics; and
- societal expectations.
- the total of who you are, what you believe, what you feel, and how you respond;
- the way in which you have been acculturated, socialized, and sexualized;
- the sum of all your relationships and intimate encounters;
- expressed in the way you speak, smile, stand, sit, dress, dance, laugh, cry; and…
“Sexuality is all this, including the way religion, morals, friends, age, body concepts, life goals and self-esteem shape your sexual self.”
Complex stuff. If you’re wondering how to talk about these subjects with your boy or girl you’ll want to attend this dynamic workshop.
The Revelstoke Opt Clinic’s Askable Adult Workshop starts at 7 pm at Begbie View Elementary School on Monday, April 27.
Click here for more information about this program.