Dear Alice,

I would like to know how I could obtain a copy of the videos you have for youth, especially Sex: A Guide For the Young. I am trying to put something together for my boys (especially the thirteen-year-old) that will promote critical thinking, better choices, information they might not be aware of, and in an environment that will be least uncomfortable for both of us. Thanks so much.

Dear Reader,

It's great that you're taking the initiative and investigating videos to use to educate your kids about sexuality. After all, parents are the primary sexuality educators of their children. Communicating with your kids about sexuality is an ongoing process; using videos is one way to begin or continue the dialogue.

Sexuality movies that are current and frank are hard to find, but here are a few to preview and consider. You may be able to find other films online, at your local public library, or by asking your child's health care provider for recommendations. Information is provided for each resource if you would like to order a copy or check it out yourself.

Sex: A Guide for the Young
This 18-minute animated video for older adolescents discusses the issues that young people deal with before their first sexual experience. Topics include masturbation, orgasm, contraception, and sexual orientation, as well as common feelings, such as embarrassment and the idea of learning to be sexual. It's not perfect — it has some cultural biases, misinformation, and value judgments — but it's lively and humorous. The video can be ordered from The Media Guild at 514.844.3636.

Talking About Sex: A Guide for Families
This 30-minute video for youth ages 10 to 14 presents engaging animated vignettes of parents and kids discussing feelings, questions, and concerns about sexuality. Topics include puberty, sexual intercourse, masturbation, sexual orientation, sexual abuse, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and contraception. It also includes a parent's guide and an activity book for kids. The kit can be ordered from Planned Parenthood Federation of America at 800.829.PPFA (-7732).

Various websites online
There are multiple credible and adolescent-accessible resources on the web — this means right at your fingertips! You and your children can check out (either alone or together) web sites such as Go Ask Alice!, Scarleteen, and It's your (sex) life, a public education campaign of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

Previewing the video or website before you decide to share it with your children gives you a chance to think about the messages you want to share and the values you want to instill, as well as any "corrections" you may want to make. You'll be more prepared to answer questions that they may have, or raise your issues. If they do ask questions, remember, you don't have to know all the answers. 

Whether you want to watch the video with them as a family activity, or choose to have them watch it on their own, it is always beneficial to discuss it together afterwards. In addition, having a fun family activity before or during the video, such as sharing a big bowl of popcorn or ice cream sundaes, may make it more relaxed or tolerable — for you and for them.

Acknowledge to your children that it can be a little awkward or uncomfortable for parents and children to talk about sexuality. You can tell them how much you love them and that this is important to you to have a family that can discuss things with respect and privacy. You can also use everyday situations, such as while watching prime time television, soap opera programs, music videos, or wrestling, to talk with your sons about sexuality, sex roles, sexism, etc.

Of course, not every parent and/or child is comfortable watching sexuality videos; another option is to leave books around the house that your children can read on their own or together with you, such as, It's Perfectly Normal: A Book about Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health, and It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families, both by Robie Harris.

For tips on talking with your kids about sexuality, or resources for parents, children, or adolescents, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) web site has a section for parents and other adults.


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