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Sex Talk(s): How to Have Them and Overcome the Awkward // with Sarah Sproule
Episode 3931st May 2022 • Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them • Carmelita Tiu
00:00:00 00:26:45

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Ok, who of us hasn’t cringed a little bit, thinking about "having the talk" with your kids?  Why does this awkwardness exist, and can we make it less awkward for our kids, so there’s a healthier dialogue about sex and bodies and relationships?

 

In Episode 39, Sarah Sproule unpacks all of this with host Carmelita Tiu, sharing what parents can do to create an open atmosphere, build healthy attitudes towards sex and their bodies, and empower their daughters with tools to craft healthy relationships.

Some highlights:

  • Where the awkwardness around sex-related topics comes from
  • When and how to start talking about sex
  • Why it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it
  • A script for have an open conversation with older kids about sex, when you haven’t had one before
  • The importance of living the way healthy feels

Guest Bio:

When Sarah was 11 she was afraid she was only growing one breast and didn’t know who to turn to for help. 

Now as mother of three teens, with two decades experience as a therapist and a masters in sexuality studies, Sarah uses her skills as an occupational therapist and sex educator to ensure every parent and caring adult knows how to nurture deeper connection with their growing kid(s). 

Because no child should ever feel alone and unable to reach out for help with their body, their boundaries or their knowledge about sexuality. 

… and yes Sarah eventually grew two breasts roughly the same size.

To learn more about Sarah Sproule:

Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them

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For more doses of information and inspiration:

Transcripts

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Hi, everyone.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I'm Carmelita too.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And welcome to know them.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Be them, raise them a show to help busy, mindful growth oriented moms stay

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

informed and inspired as they navigate their daughter's tween and teen years.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Tune in each week to hear from experts, authors, moms who've been there and

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

here a curated selection of articles read with the author's permission.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Of course, with most episodes running 20 to 25 minutes or less.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

If you like what you hear or you find something helpful in the

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

podcast, hit subscribe or follow, tell a friend and leave a review

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

on apple podcasts or Spotify.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I would so appreciate that.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Okay.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Who of us has not cringed a little bit thinking about sex talks with your kids.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I have been pretty open with my girls, trying to talk about sex as things

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

come up and answer their questions in an age appropriate and casual way.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

But even with a fair amount of practice talking about sex

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

still kind of feels weird.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I still hesitate and feel a bit cringy as the kids say, hearing sex related words,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

come out of my mouth when talking to them.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

It made me wonder why does this awkwardness exist?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And can we make it less awkward for our kids?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So we have a healthier dialogue about sex and bodies and

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

relationships going forward.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

My guest today, Sarah.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Sarah Sproul unpacks, all of this.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

When Sarah was 11.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

She was afraid.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

She was only growing one breast and didn't know who to turn to for help.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Now as a mother of three teens with two decades experience as a therapist

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

and a master's in sexuality studies.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Sarah uses her skills as an occupational therapist.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Pissed and sex educator.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

To ensure every parent and caring adult.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

He knows how to nurture deeper connection.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

With our growing kids.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Because no child should ever feel alone and unable to reach out for help.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

With their body, their boundaries, or their knowledge about sexuality.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And yes, Sarah eventually grew two breasts, roughly the same size.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Here's our conversation.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Welcome, Sarah.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I am so excited to have you here with us.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

When I heard about your area of expertise, it kind of sent chills through my spine

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

because I have absolutely been there and I've had conversations with other moms

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

and parents about this particular topic.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I'm so glad you're here to share with us today.

Sarah Sproule:

It's an honor to be invited.

Sarah Sproule:

So thank you so much.

Sarah Sproule:

I'm excited for the work you do here on your podcast.

Sarah Sproule:

CA it's great.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Thank you.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Well, jumping right in, I love this idea of you helping

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

parents overcome the awkward.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I saw that phrase pop up in your website and your bio.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And it just resonates so much with me.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I think a question I'd like to start with is where does this awkward come from?

Sarah Sproule:

So my work is to support families, to have

Sarah Sproule:

conversations about sensitive things.

Sarah Sproule:

And when I say sensitive things, it's a euphemism or it's, it's the

Sarah Sproule:

way the parents, I work with talk about topics related to sex bodies,

Sarah Sproule:

puberty, babies, consent, the darkness around sexuality when it

Sarah Sproule:

goes wrong, all those sorts of things.

Sarah Sproule:

And, oftentimes parents will, come with stories of, memories they have

Sarah Sproule:

about growing up when either nothing very much was said about puberty.

Sarah Sproule:

For example, that's just take one example.

Sarah Sproule:

And instead they were given a book where they could learn about periods or, um,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Oh, my gosh, raising my hand here.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Yes.

Sarah Sproule:

or erections or whatever it was.

Sarah Sproule:

Okay.

Sarah Sproule:

So that's, that's one story or.

Sarah Sproule:

There was just very little conversations at home.

Sarah Sproule:

Or maybe a parent said something like, I, you know, you can ask me anything.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

And they were left thinking, well, I don't really feel like that.

Sarah Sproule:

You're saying that, um, I have a story when I was 11.

Sarah Sproule:

My mom came in to talk to me about periods and I was so.

Sarah Sproule:

Sort of horrified at the idea and so embarrassed and awkward about it, that

Sarah Sproule:

I sort of yelled at her get out of my room, get out of my room, get it, just get

Sarah Sproule:

out, get it, you know, until she got out and I sort of shut the door forcefully.

Sarah Sproule:

And I was like, oh, I th that was just so awkward.

Sarah Sproule:

So when we're talking about that awkwardness, it's.

Sarah Sproule:

Not only is it maybe coming from our child who, when they're at a

Sarah Sproule:

particular age, they just feel this sense of they need their privacy.

Sarah Sproule:

They don't want to talk about embarrassing things related to their body.

Sarah Sproule:

And it can also be from our side too, that we haven't had

Sarah Sproule:

an experience of open natural conversations about sensitive things.

Sarah Sproule:

And when I say that, when I say we haven't had an experience of it, first of all,

Sarah Sproule:

that means it hasn't been modeled to us.

Sarah Sproule:

But the other thing is our nervous system or our body has not had proof

Sarah Sproule:

that talking about these sort of conversations is a natural, normal

Sarah Sproule:

everyday part of being human.

Sarah Sproule:

So the opposite of that is in fact, the case we've had evidence that these

Sarah Sproule:

sort of conversations are actually things that you don't talk about.

Sarah Sproule:

You're only read about in books, people sort of allude to them, or if they're

Sarah Sproule:

talked about at school and everyone giggles and sort of titters, and

Sarah Sproule:

maybe you get out of class and someone shows you something embarrassing.

Sarah Sproule:

You know, on a piece it my day it was a piece of paper

Sarah Sproule:

nowadays, it would be a phone.

Sarah Sproule:

So it's not just our absence of modeling, natural open conversations,

Sarah Sproule:

but it's the presence of awkwardness being modeled to too.

Sarah Sproule:

So we're taught almost to associate that feeling with these topics.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

as you mentioned that, I also think there's

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

media messaging that reinforces awkwardness between parents and kids.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So I know I've seen any number of movies.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Maybe the parent is reluctant to talk about it or they're passing

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

off who has to be the one to have this difficult conversation.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And, uh, as if it's a burden And, a chore and something that you're

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

inevitably going to mess up or fail and, and that's a bad thing.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So yeah, those are really interesting insights around the source of that.

Sarah Sproule:

You know, I think about that, that's a lovely sort of awareness

Sarah Sproule:

that you've just brought there to how the media models this part of parenting to us.

Sarah Sproule:

And I sort of think about like what other part of parenting is modeled in that way.

Sarah Sproule:

Like giving our kids the experience of eating of wide variety of vegetables.

Sarah Sproule:

There's no parent discussion about who's going to give the vegetables, right?

Sarah Sproule:

There's very little parent discussion about, should we do swimming

Sarah Sproule:

lessons because it's sort of almost universally accepted that there

Sarah Sproule:

are things that children need from caring adults that protect them and

Sarah Sproule:

support them in their growing up.

Sarah Sproule:

But this thing that we're talking about here, natural open conversations

Sarah Sproule:

about sensitive things related to sex.

Sarah Sproule:

It's got that like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Sarah Sproule:

I sort of thought

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Earmuffs.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Yeah.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Can't hear you.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So as parents, do you have suggestions on how we can shake those feelings

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

or processed them instead of feeling overwhelmed by them or letting that

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

control how we approach a situation?

Sarah Sproule:

yes.

Sarah Sproule:

So the, the first thing to do is to give yourself permission to feel them

Sarah Sproule:

because anytime we have a strong emotion, I mean, this is just not in parenting.

Sarah Sproule:

This is in sort of every aspect of being human.

Sarah Sproule:

When we have a strong emotion or a strong belief that we should able to.

Sarah Sproule:

Doing something.

Sarah Sproule:

And yet we can't do it.

Sarah Sproule:

If we are sort of pushing ourselves, pushing, pushing, pushing, it is counter

Sarah Sproule:

productive and that's especially true when it comes to conversations about

Sarah Sproule:

sensitive things, because, um, what we're doing, if we, if we're modeling to our

Sarah Sproule:

child that even though this doesn't feel good, I'm going to push through and try

Sarah Sproule:

and have this conversation with you.

Sarah Sproule:

not modeling consent.

Sarah Sproule:

So already in conversations about sensitive things, the way we treat

Sarah Sproule:

ourselves, as we attempt to get clear about the fact that, you know, what

Sarah Sproule:

we're trying to do something new than what we had in our past, that

Sarah Sproule:

modeling is teaching in our family.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Right?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Oh my gosh.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

That just gave me, uh, an aha moment, it's not enough to say

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

the words, it's how you say them too, and how you show up for that.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I think on some level.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Having the conversation in my mind felt like the box was being checked.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

But that's a really, really good point, if I'm reluctant, if I'm doing it

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

in a way that makes it seem as if I don't want to be doing it, uh, Yeah.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I never thought about that tie into consent And what that can imply.

Sarah Sproule:

and, you know, I'm thinking about what we're talking about

Sarah Sproule:

here and realizing that that could be an additional burden, like, um, someone could

Sarah Sproule:

be listening to this going, oh, hang on.

Sarah Sproule:

You mean, I can't just say that, um, this is the way babies are made that there

Sarah Sproule:

are sperms and there are eggs and a penis comes together with the, with the vagina

Sarah Sproule:

and the sperm is delivered in the egg.

Sarah Sproule:

And you mean, I don't just say that?

Sarah Sproule:

Um, and the answer is no, because first of all, there are lots of

Sarah Sproule:

ways that babies are created.

Sarah Sproule:

Second of all, there are lots of reasons why people have sex that are

Sarah Sproule:

not related to making you humans.

Sarah Sproule:

And, the third part of it is that the emotion and the

Sarah Sproule:

experience of it is important.

Sarah Sproule:

And so when we acknowledge and we accept that we have awkwardness around

Sarah Sproule:

this topic, what it shows us is that the world is a weird place when it

Sarah Sproule:

comes to talking about bodies and when it comes to talking about genitals.

Sarah Sproule:

Right?

Sarah Sproule:

So, um, one of the ways to make it easier is actually to start

Sarah Sproule:

earlier in our kid's life.

Sarah Sproule:

If that is possible.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Is there a right time to bring it up, because

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I know that at schools, oftentimes it's introduced through health or sex

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

education, maybe around 10 years old.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

What are your thoughts?

Sarah Sproule:

So all the work I do is about building

Sarah Sproule:

deeper connections in families.

Sarah Sproule:

Okay.

Sarah Sproule:

So, that's the glasses on which I look through everything.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Um,

Sarah Sproule:

um, when I think about conversations particularly about sex,

Sarah Sproule:

now, we're talking about what sex is I think about, well, what is going to be

Sarah Sproule:

the most connecting thing, a family.

Sarah Sproule:

Can do when it comes to this topic.

Sarah Sproule:

And the most connecting thing is to have that conversation.

Sarah Sproule:

And when I say that competition, I mean, it's a series of conversations,

Sarah Sproule:

everything we're talking about here.

Sarah Sproule:

There is so much richness and depth to it and detail, um, that

Sarah Sproule:

it's almost like the way we teach table manners to young children.

Sarah Sproule:

Like we don't just sit down one day and teach table manners over years, we start.

Sarah Sproule:

You know, teach them how to use a spoon and reminding them that they sit at the

Sarah Sproule:

table, they don't run around and that, um, we don't throw food on the floor and

Sarah Sproule:

we remind and we remind and we repeat and repeat and they get a bit older and then

Sarah Sproule:

we add something in, we add something in.

Sarah Sproule:

So that's the same thing for conversations about all sorts of

Sarah Sproule:

weird and wacky sensitive things.

Sarah Sproule:

Um, so while health class might do it at 10, 11, sometime around then

Sarah Sproule:

my recommendation is to be actively talking about bodies and using accurate

Sarah Sproule:

names for genitals, from a very young age, we are creating the foundation of

Sarah Sproule:

much more comfortable conversations.

Sarah Sproule:

can talk about, you know, that your body is your own and you

Sarah Sproule:

get to decide what happens to it.

Sarah Sproule:

And your body can tell you.

Sarah Sproule:

You know, you, don't something doesn't feel right.

Sarah Sproule:

And then you go up to the next level and then you can start talking about spans in

Sarah Sproule:

eggs from sort of four and around the age of six or seven, you can talk about, well,

Sarah Sproule:

how the sperms and eggs get together.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

And so, and when we have this ongoing led conversation, cause that's what

Sarah Sproule:

it is layering over time, a bit like.

Sarah Sproule:

a pastry you know, how you layer it out and he gets a beautiful, fluffy croissant.

Sarah Sproule:

That's what we're doing.

Sarah Sproule:

We're trying to make the beautiful, fluffy croissant of sensitive conversations.

Sarah Sproule:

And so that when they get to health class or biology or whatever it

Sarah Sproule:

is, the information is not new.

Sarah Sproule:

And their nervous system does not get signals of.

Sarah Sproule:

I haven't heard this before.

Sarah Sproule:

Everyone's laughing.

Sarah Sproule:

What's going on instead they're sitting in their class going, oh yeah, I know.

Sarah Sproule:

Well, this, um, why are people giggling?

Sarah Sproule:

This is just normal everyday sort of information that our

Sarah Sproule:

family, we talk about it.

Sarah Sproule:

And I suppose.

Sarah Sproule:

The other reason why we start early is because it sends a signal to our child

Sarah Sproule:

that even if other people don't talk about these things in our family, we do,

Sarah Sproule:

we are a family that talks to each other.

Sarah Sproule:

We are a family that will do things that, um, say things and talk

Sarah Sproule:

about things and answer questions.

Sarah Sproule:

Even if other people, um, say, oh, no, you don't need to know that if our child

Sarah Sproule:

is asking questions, We answered them.

Sarah Sproule:

If a child isn't asking questions, then we'll bring up the topic

Sarah Sproule:

because we know it's so important.

Sarah Sproule:

So the earlier the better and, um, early and often is the mantra in sexuality,

Sarah Sproule:

education speak early talk often.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Now, if we have older kids say there's a listener that has

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

a 16 and a 14 year old, is it too late?

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

What would you suggest for them?

Sarah Sproule:

It's never too late.

Sarah Sproule:

One of the stories I tell about this is, I work in Ireland, so it's a

Sarah Sproule:

little island off the coast of Europe.

Sarah Sproule:

Um, and we had a referendum a few years ago that was talking about,

Sarah Sproule:

who was allowed to be married under the law in our country.

Sarah Sproule:

And because that referendum was happening, what it meant was that

Sarah Sproule:

families all over our country were having conversations about things

Sarah Sproule:

they had never talked about before.

Sarah Sproule:

I, and when I say families, you might think that means families

Sarah Sproule:

of 16 year olds and 12 year olds.

Sarah Sproule:

And that was happening, but actually families, um, older parents who are

Sarah Sproule:

in their seventies and eighties who were having conversations with grown

Sarah Sproule:

adults in their fifties, who they had never been able to be open to.

Sarah Sproule:

The fact that the reality of what their life was like, what the gender

Sarah Sproule:

of their partner, for example, and in those moments, we were hearing

Sarah Sproule:

stories about these families who that the love and the acceptance

Sarah Sproule:

that were starting to flow because a conversation was happening around sexual

Sarah Sproule:

orientation that was open and willing.

Sarah Sproule:

People were willing to listen to each other's reality.

Sarah Sproule:

connection that grew from those conversations was quite extraordinary.

Sarah Sproule:

And the lesson of that is it isn't, it doesn't matter how old our children are.

Sarah Sproule:

It doesn't matter how old we are.

Sarah Sproule:

There is still an opportunity to use conversations about sensitive things

Sarah Sproule:

in a way to show acceptance and love and support for our children.

Sarah Sproule:

No matter who they are and who they grow up to love.

Sarah Sproule:

So when it comes to a 16 year old and a 14 year old, if we have not

Sarah Sproule:

ever had an open conversation about something to do with sex with them,

Sarah Sproule:

then we can start off with taking the responsibility on ourselves because

Sarah Sproule:

we are the adult in this relationship.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

And so we could start a conversation.

Sarah Sproule:

Somebody like, I need to apologize.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Um,

Sarah Sproule:

And, you know, I don't know.

Sarah Sproule:

I have teens, I've got an 18 year old, a 16 year old and a 14 year old.

Sarah Sproule:

And I need to apologize to you.

Sarah Sproule:

Oftentimes I'll go.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

Okay.

Sarah Sproule:

Like, cause, cause they're like, what's going on?

Sarah Sproule:

This is, she's not blaming me for something.

Sarah Sproule:

There's something that's gone wrong and she's apologizing.

Sarah Sproule:

What's the deal there.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

I need to apologize to you.

Sarah Sproule:

And then we can follow along.

Sarah Sproule:

I have just realized that there was a whole pot of talking openly

Sarah Sproule:

to you, but I didn't know about, or that I felt awkward about.

Sarah Sproule:

And I didn't do.

Sarah Sproule:

And I'm really sorry

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Um,

Sarah Sproule:

that means you may not feel supported or you might not

Sarah Sproule:

really feel able to come to me with worries or concerns or questions.

Sarah Sproule:

And, um, I know that now, but I didn't know that then.

Sarah Sproule:

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host: Oh, that is so good.

Sarah Sproule:

I just, I don't mean to cut you off, but I just have to say that is so good.

Sarah Sproule:

Thank you for that script , uh, I can see myself having to use that at some

Sarah Sproule:

point where I've forgotten to bring something up and those words And those

Sarah Sproule:

sentences, and that idea of starting out with taking responsibility.

Sarah Sproule:

it also models so much.

Sarah Sproule:

It models.

Sarah Sproule:

what I was going to say.

Sarah Sproule:

Yes.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

So continue.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I cut you off.

Sarah Sproule:

no, no, because it's beautiful.

Sarah Sproule:

I love this conversation.

Sarah Sproule:

I think you're right there about modeling because wouldn't, most of us want our

Sarah Sproule:

young person to grow up into an adult who can take responsibility for their part in

Sarah Sproule:

complex conflicts or situations, you know?

Sarah Sproule:

I definitely want that for my children.

Sarah Sproule:

In fact, I know that, um, in my relationship, The bedrock of its

Sarah Sproule:

success and its progress has been both of our ability to claim responsibility

Sarah Sproule:

for our part of whatever is going on.

Sarah Sproule:

And so parenting gives us the opportunity to model that as well.

Sarah Sproule:

And I think with older children, particularly, um,

Sarah Sproule:

we need to understand that.

Sarah Sproule:

We need to get their buy-in for when things change.

Sarah Sproule:

So if we're changing the habit in our family, like we haven't talked

Sarah Sproule:

about things related to sex and bodies and consent and all that.

Sarah Sproule:

And now we realize we need to, um, we can't just say so on your parents

Sarah Sproule:

or here's what's going to happen because that's not consensually.

Sarah Sproule:

Like it's more about, um, could we sit down.

Sarah Sproule:

And maybe have a meeting to try and work out a way that this, we could

Sarah Sproule:

do this in the best way for you.

Sarah Sproule:

And in a way that I feel like you've got everything you need,

Sarah Sproule:

right?

Sarah Sproule:

So it's those two needs are held with equal respect.

Sarah Sproule:

Our young persons need to feel comfortable, and our parenting needs

Sarah Sproule:

to feel sure that our young person has the information that is going to keep

Sarah Sproule:

them safe and give them skills to, to have healthy and happy relationships.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

That seems like such an important thing that

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

it's not just the what, but the how.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Hmm.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Love it.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Now I, you know, learning about sex and kind of layering on these topics

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as teens have more agency to be on their own they may find themselves in

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situations where parents aren't around to protect them and say, is sexual assault

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something that is, is that an added layer to that sex discussion in a way?

Sarah Sproule:

Yeah, well, actually that can be woven through a conversation.

Sarah Sproule:

So that's not something that we wait and talk about when our

Sarah Sproule:

teens have got more independence.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

Um, so go back to the table, manners analogy.

Sarah Sproule:

We don't wait for our young person's first invitation to someone else's

Sarah Sproule:

house for dinner to sit down and teach them all the things.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

So we're talking about how, when we go out, , Well, we are quiet and

Sarah Sproule:

we talk with our inside voice and we use a knife and fork together

Sarah Sproule:

and all those sorts of things.

Sarah Sproule:

So we're leading up to that point where they will be in a situation

Sarah Sproule:

where we're not there and they need to rely on their skills.

Sarah Sproule:

So in the same way, when it comes to this conversation and you're talking about

Sarah Sproule:

abuse prevention and, um, in my world, I would describe that as learning consent

Sarah Sproule:

skills, that we are creating situations at home where our kids and our young people,

Sarah Sproule:

um, experience what it feels like to have their voice respected, for example.

Sarah Sproule:

So we're setting up situations where they are offered choices for things

Sarah Sproule:

around our home, rather than the dynamic of you do what you're told.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

Because if we have particular.

Sarah Sproule:

Daughters or, um, quietly spoken, gentle kids, the importance of modeling to

Sarah Sproule:

them, what respectful listening and acknowledgement of their opinion and their

Sarah Sproule:

needs feels like that's a body sensation.

Sarah Sproule:

You know, hearing ourself treated with respect in our home.

Sarah Sproule:

And so when they're going out then , their body, once they know what it

Sarah Sproule:

feels like to be respected, that they've got a radar for when it doesn't

Sarah Sproule:

like, um, I heard a 16 year old was telling her mom a few months

Sarah Sproule:

ago that she was talking to.

Sarah Sproule:

It was a boyfriend actually.

Sarah Sproule:

And she came home to a mum and said, like, he doesn't listen.

Sarah Sproule:

doesn't listen.

Sarah Sproule:

Like he's not listening to what I'm saying is just going

Sarah Sproule:

off and doing something else.

Sarah Sproule:

And the only reason that she knew that is because she understands

Sarah Sproule:

what it feels like to be heard.

Sarah Sproule:

Right.

Sarah Sproule:

So there's that opportunity to judge against what healthy and

Sarah Sproule:

good and respectful feels like.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Yeah.

Sarah Sproule:

Well, there are lots of other abuse prevention sort of strategies

Sarah Sproule:

where I come from in my work is how can we live what healthy feels like.

Sarah Sproule:

And as we live, what healthy feels like, and we're offering our young

Sarah Sproule:

person a chance to sort of shape how they get information, then they're

Sarah Sproule:

understanding what healthy feels like.

Sarah Sproule:

And they're getting information both in a way that feels good.

Sarah Sproule:

And, um, and that way, then everything comes together and we're

Sarah Sproule:

doing the best, the best we can.

Sarah Sproule:

The reason I say that is because it doesn't matter and this will be a little

Sarah Sproule:

bit dark, but I think it's important to say it doesn't matter how many

Sarah Sproule:

conversations we have and how careful we are and how upskilled out young prison is.

Sarah Sproule:

There is still an element of chance, horrible chance, you know?

Sarah Sproule:

And so as adults.

Sarah Sproule:

Skills can we put in place in ourselves to be there, even when things go, go

Sarah Sproule:

badly wrong and so that we can stay calm and really be there for our young

Sarah Sproule:

person, because at the end of the day, we're their parent, whether or not they.

Sarah Sproule:

Do something to someone else inadvertently or just because they

Sarah Sproule:

didn't know, or they are done to in some way by someone else's, um, by

Sarah Sproule:

someone else's young person, you know?

Sarah Sproule:

So it's all about setting ourselves up to be there, no matter what.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Yes.

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Being able to accommodate those moments as well, living in a, way that makes

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it okay for them to come to you with also the not so great things and

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the confusing moments, et cetera.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Um, you've covered so much.

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I feel so much smarter after a short time talking with you.

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I'd love to know if you have any affirmations or maybe phrases of

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encouragement that you'd like to leave the listeners with as we tackle

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difficult and hard conversations.

Sarah Sproule:

The thing that is really helps the people in my world that I

Sarah Sproule:

work with, but actually personally has made such a difference has been

Sarah Sproule:

the practice of self compassion.

Sarah Sproule:

And, um, there are three simple self-compassion phrases that apply so

Sarah Sproule:

much to parenting, but specifically to conversations about sensitive

Sarah Sproule:

things and they are, um, this is hard.

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Um,

Sarah Sproule:

Anyone would find this hard and, you are not on your own.

Sarah Sproule:

So if it's possible, Sort of step into the, yeah, this is complicated.

Sarah Sproule:

You're not on your own that it's complicated and in the

Sarah Sproule:

moment when you acknowledge it's complicated, give yourself a bit

Sarah Sproule:

of a hug and say, you know what?

Sarah Sproule:

It's okay.

Sarah Sproule:

This is just like any other part of parenting.

Sarah Sproule:

It's hard.

Sarah Sproule:

Um, that's the thing, rather than running away from the complexity

Sarah Sproule:

of the moment turning and face, it has like a balm to my soul.

Sarah Sproule:

And so, um, I offer that.

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I loved this conversation with Sarah and I'm

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stunned by how much I learned and how many nuances there are to this topic.

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Here were my top takeaways.

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Number one.

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I actively talk about sex, genitals and bodies from an early age, if possible, to.

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Create a foundation for more comfortable conversations that way

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when your child gets to health class or their peers start talking about it.

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The information isn't new and they don't feel awkward as it's been normalized.

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Also, it sends a signal that your family talks to each other, and it's

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safe to ask and answer questions.

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Even if other families don't operate that way.

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Number two.

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Give yourself permission to feel awkward.

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It's okay to feel that way.

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If we model to our kids, that conversations about

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sensitive topics are a burden.

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Like you don't want to do it, but you're going to push through and try

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to have this conversation anyway.

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That's not muddling consent.

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It's not enough to say the words.

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It's how you say them too.

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Number three, it's never too late to start having an open conversation

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about sex with your kids.

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There's always an opportunity to use conversations about sensitive things.

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In a way that shows acceptance and love and support for our children.

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Number four it's on you to claim responsibility for not

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talking about things sooner.

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Here's a sample script for late comers to the open conversation game.

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I need to apologize to you.

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I just realized that there are a lot of things I didn't know about or that

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I felt awkward about, and I didn't do.

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Do.

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And I'm really sorry.

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Because that means you might not feel supported or able to come to me

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with worries, concerns or questions.

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I know that.

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Now, but I didn't know it then.

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Number five.

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If you are introducing a topic for the first time when your child is

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older, get buy-in for this change.

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Try to work out a way that makes sense for both of you where they can

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feel comfortable and you can share with them the information they.

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I need.

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Number six, create situations at home where your child's voice is respected.

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So they know that sensation and will be able to recognize situations

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when they don't have that.

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Live what healthy feels like.

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And number seven.

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Treat yourself with compassion.

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Remember, anyone would find this hard.

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You are not on your own and give yourself a little hug and tell yourself.

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It's okay.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

To learn more about Sarah Sproul.

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Visit Sarah sproul.com.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

That's S a R a H S P R O U L e.com.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And follow at.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I am Sarah Sproul on Instagram.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

You can check out her podcast too.

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It's called sitting in a car.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Where she discusses sexuality relationships and consent for

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

parents of teens and little kids.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

You can find sitting at a car on all the major platforms.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

And she also offers a 15 minute training on how to talk to really young kids

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

about what sex is for making a baby.

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At Sarah sproul.com/bio.

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These links are in the show notes as well.

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So feel free to head there to get them.

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A huge.

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Thanks for listening.

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I am honored and humbled to share a portion of your day with you.

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If you found something helpful or insightful, remember to

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subscribe or follow, tell a friend and leave that review.

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Again, so grateful for you and here's to strong women.

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May we know them, may we be them?

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