Q&A with David Kesterton of the FPA about talking to kids about sex and relationships - ANSWERS BACK

(30 Posts)
RebeccaMumsnet England (MNHQ) Mon 23-May-11 10:14:20

We're joined this week by David Kesterton, parenting expert and project manager of the Speakeasy programme at the FPA - Family Planning Association, who's going to be answering questions on talking to your children and your teenagers about sex and relationships.

Speakeasy is an award-winning project designed by FPA to help parents and carers face those difficult conversations and awkward questions from children about sex and relationships with confidence, knowledge and new found skills. Speakeasy courses are held all over the country at schools, community and health centres.

David is project manager for the Speakeasy programme at FPA and has spoken extensively about the important of the role of parents in sex and relationships education.

If you have any questions about how, why and when you should talk to your children about sex, please post by the end of Friday 27 May and we'll be linking to his answers the following week.

everyspring Mon 23-May-11 16:49:25

I'm a bit hmm about the name.
"A speakeasy is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition (1920–1933, longer in some states). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States."
from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speakeasy

VenetiaLanyon Mon 23-May-11 18:04:16

Hi David.

What is the ideal age to first discuss the topic of sex and relationships with your children? Is it better to instigate the discussion even if they have shown no interest in the subject, or wait until you've had an appropriate question from the child?

Thanks smile

Tee2072 Mon 23-May-11 18:23:48

I was also wondering about the name, due to it's prohibition connection.

I do understand that the point is to make it easy to speak to your kids, but the name may need a rethink!

Sorry, no questions on the topic.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Tue 24-May-11 12:30:07

Hi David,
I have 2 boys, aged 5 and 7 and they both know generally how babies are made. (haven't gone into the more medicalised options)
We are a very open family.
Having read on here so many stories of men treating women as objects to be manhandled at will, could you help with guidance on how to help them grow up into respectful men.

For some reason - some men don't feel that there is an issue with commenting, jeering, touching girls/women. there must be a way of helping a new generation of boys to grow up with a different attitude. And also helping girls grow up knowing that unwanted groping, is sexual assault and they don't have to put up with it.

stretch Tue 24-May-11 14:16:12

Hi, I have a 9 year old DD and over the last couple of months have been talking about sex/relationships.
I am fairly open with her and try not to cringe (!) but last night we were discusing gay/lesbian relationships and she asked how men have sex and were do they put it!
Now, I am not really embarassed, and I have been enjoying our 'chats' actually, but HOW do I explain this?

DH thinks we shouldn't be explaining anal sex yet and actually I agree.

Can I add that I am not homophobic in any way, we discussed lesbian sex (not in great detail though), but I am unsure how to approach this.

TIA

LittleBlueBoat Tue 24-May-11 16:36:10

I have a 2 year old and i'm pg with my second child.

I have been thinking how to tell my son about the baby and what he needs to know.

Is it possible to tell a child too much?

How do you explain to a 2yo where the baby is and how it gets into the world?

I am very open about sex and i have no problem discussing it but i'm struglying with what is age approrate. I would perfer my son to learn from me and not children in school but would it be wrong to explain babies to a 2 yo?

Or would it be better if he know from a young age from me and then open up the topic when he has questions later on?

Also how do i teach my son respect for women/girls?

5inthebed Tue 24-May-11 17:59:38

I did a Speakeasy course in 2005 and it was great!

zippy539 Tue 24-May-11 21:22:28

Er, think it's a bit daft to get hung up on the name 'speakeasy' . Seems verrrry nit-picky to me - and nothing at all to do with the matter in hand. How about less showing off about historical knowledge ( about an era means nothing to our kids) and more attention to talking openly about sex (a subject much more relevant to them).
No questions - just had to comment.

Simic Wed 25-May-11 11:23:20

How can parents work against peer-group pressure on teenagers to get into a sexual relationship as early as possible? How can parents help teenagers realise that there is the option of waiting with sex - and support the teenagers to make their own choice?

cokefloat Wed 25-May-11 11:28:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Thandeka Wed 25-May-11 16:59:30

In case you can't wait til Friday Stretch- my advice would be not to get hung up on specifics re. sexual activity and sexual orientation. There is only one sexual activity that is exclusively for lesbians (tribadism!)- every single other activity can be done by partners of same or opposite sex. Not all gay men have anal sex (in fact it has been cited around a third, and around 10% of straight couples have regular anal sex which means proportionally more straight people are having anal sex! ;) Not suggesting you tell your daughter those stats ;) but would suggest pointing out that sexual activity can involve doing a wide range of things that you and your partner are comfortable with and these activities don't matter if you are gay or straight.
Hope that helps.
(I work in sex and relationships education and do a lot of LGBT/tackling homophobia work). <<sits on hands not to get stuck in and start answering all the other questions as erm I'm not David Kesterton!>>

nowyounglady Wed 25-May-11 17:11:21

Hi, my daughter is 11 and starting secondary school in September. She is the youngest of two but is around 4 years behind in terms of speech and language, cognitive development, but physically right on time. She has a statement.
She understands about sex and relationships, and I think I do the right thing in answering questions when they come up, but I worry about people taking advantage of her when she gets older.
Currently she plays with children about 2 or 3 years younger than her but she is very compliant and wants to please everyone (except me of course). Is there anything I can do now to build up her resilience for the future?

innocentuntil Wed 25-May-11 17:41:05

About a year ago I found my 12 year old was engaging what can only be described as role-play sex on the internet. It is clear to me that abusers have bypassed legal restrictions by luring children into writing stories and then turning them into sexual encounters. They do this subtly and slowly and it happens on what might be described as educational websites. We now have open passwords and keep a much closer eye on what is happening but she has never had a chance to discuss this with anyone. I think she has been sexually abused but the authorities think that because it's not 'engaging' in a sexual act there is nothing they can do - we are not talking pictures or actions, it's just happened with words. Even CEOP looked into it. But now the damage is done and she has lost her innocence. I wonder what you think about this? What can she do to restore her faith in adults? Is there anything I can do? How does this affect children in general?

stretch Wed 25-May-11 20:25:58

Thanks, Thandeka!

You're right, there is no need to tell her all details.
I think next time we chat, I'll just tell her that gay men don't have intercourse, just touch and kiss each other, does that sound about right? She can learn otherwise when she's older.

(I had to look up tribadism, never heard of it before!) grin

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Staircase Thu 26-May-11 19:18:34

My 8 year old step daughter recently came home after school telling me that she has learned all about sex from older girls in the playground. She said she was too embarrassed to talk about it with her mum and dad, who are in turn too embarrassed to talk to her about it, so I had a frank conversation with them both to find out what they were happy for me to discuss with her, and the conversation I had with SD was comfortable and good humored. We are all keen that she not grow up uncomfortable or embarrassed about sex, indeed, to approach it as a fun adult activity to set upon when she is ready to do so.

However, there is one question that I can't keep a straight face to, let alone come up with a sensible answer to, and it is this: What's the most disgusting part?

Wurzelrubbish Thu 26-May-11 20:30:26

As christian parents, we have always told our 6yr old DD that babies are a gift from God, and that God gives babies to couples to look after. We are very inclusive, and tell her that sometimes a Mum and Dad aren't married, or it could be two Dads etc.

She has never asked how babies get into tummies (we have 2 younger DS so she has seen me pregnant and also waved me off to hospital to give birth) or how they get out etc, my question is should I wait for her to ask, or talk to her a bit more about it now?

I don't want her to be ridiculed in the playground for lack of knowledge.

Thandeka Thu 26-May-11 20:41:33

Swallowedafly oooh thanks for that now there iis officially no sexual activity exclusive to a particular sexual orientation! smile (my sex dictionary needs updating ;)

casperthefriendlyghost Thu 26-May-11 22:12:04

Another one here to find out if we broach the subject ourselves or wait for questions to arise. My eldest DS is 6, has seen me pregnant with his 2 siblings and despite the 2 homebirths, has not asked ANY questions, which I'm really stunned about...

Also, do you have any book recommendations? I'm pretty sure he's going to want to 'see things' and I feel this will help enforce his understanding. I myself spent years believing that sperm jumped across the bed blush and want to avoid this sort of misunderstanding at all cost!!

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WhereamI Fri 27-May-11 07:45:45

Prompted by a recent, somewhat shocked discovery that the history on a work laptop listed 'kissing willies', (turns out that our 10yr old dd was trying to further knowledge picked up from the playground), I went through the search myself to see what she would have accessed. Talktalk offered a warning, then a choice of 'view non-adult content' or 'view adult content'. I clicked on the non-adult box, and up came a list of sites..one of which, having further clicked on this, showed a graphic photograph of a woman giving a man oral sex. Was surprised this was labelled 'non-adult' content! Anyway, given the relatively free access kids seem to have to pornography from other children's mobile phones, I was wondering what your position is on the whole age/pornography issue is.

prettybird Fri 27-May-11 16:39:51

Have to say I am impressed with Glasgow City Council's Sexual Health and Relationships Education programme which is finally being rolled out to ds' (who is 10) school. He's not completed it yet (done 2 out of the 4 sessions) but I have seen the overall outline and am extremely happy with the way it emphasises relationships and respect, while not sticking its head in the sand about the fact that "sex" is all around us. If anything, it gives the kids more tools with which to challenge the over-sexualisation of society (eg getting them to realise the way that certain music videos objectify women's bodies)

As parents, we only get "homework" in the latter 2 sessions where there are optional work sheets for the children to use to discuss what they have covered with us.

How do you address the fact that some parents will pull their kids out of any "sex" education in schools - so leaving those children vulnerable to understanding both how to protect themselves from exploitation and (in some cases) scaremongering amongst the other kids wierd "facts" about sexual behaviour.

The way our head teacher has done it is that any parent who wants to withdraw their child has to put in writing their reasons for doing so and also to say how they intend to cover the topic in the absence of allowing the school to do so. This has been because certain parents have been scare mongering about what the programme covers - claiming, for example, that "7 years old will be taught how to have sex" - so the HT has made available the full teaching pack and parents can come into the school, look at it, and then say specifically what they don't like. By putting the onus onto the parents to find out for themselves what is being covered, she has managed to minimise the number of "refusers".

In addition, she is requiring kids that are being withdrawn to be picked up by the parents and taken off the school premises for the duration of the class (an hour) and then brought back afterwards. This is becasue the school has no spare classrooms in which to put kids that have been withdrawn (even the staff room is being used during these classes to cope with the couple of composite classes which have to be spilt to teach these sessions to enusre that they are age appropriate)

She has had one parent make an appointment to see her, tell her that she was a good Muslim........





...... and that she saw nothing wrong with the programme. Made her day after a tough week smile

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