Let me start by saying: hear me out! Read until the end because I know some of you may be reeling off the headline alone. "Sex-positive, who?" — that's what you're shouting to your computer screen and that's what you're gearing up to type in the comments section. But sex-positive and healthy guidelines don't equate to sexualizing your child. Shame, however, does.
Raising sex-positive children will help your child navigate a lifetime of sexual situations, from closing the orgasm gap to receiving and comfortably giving consent. Raising a sex-positive child rather than simply chanting "no means no" as a crash course on sexual assault actually helps them conceptualize what that "no" may look like. It creates awareness so that they create and respect boundaries. In fact, for each developmental stage, there is a sex-positive lesson to be learned by children.
Children have their first lessons in being sexualized via parents' shame.
When we tell them they can't walk around the house in certain clothes or pop their little hands for masturbating (because, yes, it begins well before puberty) — despite the fact that young toddlers and children don't view it as sexual, they simply know it feels good and they feel happy. Hell, consent starts with things as small as not tickling your child after they've asked you to stop (regardless of the laughter that may be present). While we may think it doesn't matter, all of that messaging remains with us and can mystify our view of our bodies, our sexuality, and our sex life in adulthood. And the entire experience begins right at home.
Though it may not be easy, it is worth it. So I asked 7 experts for some simple but extremely helpful ways for parents to raise sex-positive children and here's what they had to say.
1. Affirm pleasure and honor consent.Rejected Break Up GIF by grown-ishGiphy
"My first tip would be for parents to affirm pleasure and honor consent. Children are walking erogenous zones; they have a developmental imperative to experience happiness and joy, and to be supported in that through loving boundary-setting. They also have the right to say 'yes' or 'no' to an experience they do or do not want. If they don't want to be touched in that moment, affirm their capacity to know what feels right or wrong to them in any given moment.
"My final tip would be to heal anything that would keep you from showing up fully for your child's sexual development. Whether it's previous abuse, misuse, racial stereotyping, and/or sexual negative or erotophobic messaging, do the work to heal the effects of that on you so you don't project that into them." - Dr. Tracie Gilbert, founder of Thembi Anaiya LLC
2. Normalize body parts as early as possible.
"Start to normalize body parts including genitals and their function as early as possible. My book does this: These are My Eyes, This is My Nose, This is My Vulva, These are My Toes. Also, this normalization includes having firm discussions with family members and educational institutions so that you and your child are not flagged as 'endangerment' and so that language is not 'corrected' in other places.
"Children as young as one can say and identify a vulva, penis, and anus at least and can learn how to clean them, their functions, and grow to understand about urethra and clitoris as well. Further, it helps in preventing grooming behaviors with minor-attracted people and those who seek out to use sexual power over children." - Dr. Lexx Brown-James
3. Know the difference between being a sexual being and being sexually active.
"As a Christian Sexologist, I recognize that sex positivity is often a conversation that people of faith are left out of. Being a sex-positive parent and a Christian sometimes feels oxymoronic. I teach comprehensive sex education to youth and caregivers as well as offer intimacy coaching to help believers reconcile their faith with their beliefs about sexuality. When doing so, I help the people I work with to see how comprehensive sex education is actually honoring God more than many of the pervasive shameful teachings about sexuality and our bodies.
"God and the Bible are inherently sex-positive even if the values system includes certain timeline regulations."
"As well, in a practical sense with many believers opting for abstinence, I speak with them about the vital difference between being a sexual being and being sexually active, as well (for caregivers) how studies show youth who receive comprehensive sex education are more likely to delay sexual initiation. And most importantly are better equipped to make sound, safer decisions. I also find that many caregivers didn't receive sound sexuality education themselves which can hinder their efforts with their young people. My e-guide Understanding Intimacy, helps adults who believe in Jesus come to understand God's heart for intimacy, sexuality, and relationships." - Brittany Broaddus-Smith, LSW, MEd
4. Be the giver of all info when it comes to sex and sexuality.investigating basketball wives GIF by VH1Giphy
"My main tip is: there is no such thing as a 'sex talk', we are having a 'whole life talk'. And this is an ongoing conversation. Use opportunities as they arise to learn what your kids know and think. Challenge them to think on a broader scale as necessary. But remind them and yourself, that their body belongs to them and they get to make decisions. Be the giver of all info, or encourager of research, and give them opportunities to choose and make good decisions for themselves. It will extend itself to sex and sexuality if you let it. Just keep the door open." - Dr. Donna Oriowo
5. Teach sexual education and/or abstinence without shame.
"If you are going to teach sexual education/abstinence, do so without shame. Children should not be learning to be ashamed of themselves and what physical urges they are or will experience. Helping your child celebrate the changes that occur during puberty (i.e. period party) is a great way to normalize the physical and emotional changes they are occurring. Take this opportunity to teach your child about healthy and unhealthy practices, as well as the risks and benefits that come with each choice. It's OK if the child feels uncomfortable during the conversation. Keep them emotionally safe by validating their feelings." - Beverly Andre, LMFT
6. Create a culture that encourages the exploration of the child’s curiosities.
"The first place to start is increasing awareness around one's parenting style. Parents that are authoritarian in nature take on the 'children are to be seen and not heard...my house, my rules' approach to parenting. Parents with an authoritative parenting style are more inclined to partner healthy boundaries and standards in the home while being willing to explain and even incorporate children in decision-making. This helps create a culture in the home that encourages the child to explore topics out of curiosity rather than practicing avoidance and minimizing how they're experiencing the world.
"Parents can also consider taking them to age-appropriate local events like the Vagina Monologues or Walk a Mile in Her Shoes so that they can be exposed to sex-positive community gatherings. In addition, parents can even start on a smaller scale by promoting sex-positive language, challenging victim-blaming that may come up in the media, and shedding light on the history of marginalized populations like trans persons and sex workers. Practicing the usage of the appropriate pronouns can help as well." - Sierra Hillsman, M.Ed., APC, NCC, CCTP
7. Emphasize pleasure as much as you can and normalize alternative lifestyles.
"Put an emphasis on pleasure as much as you can, including self-love. Self-love and self-pleasure is a huge part of this process that is often neglected due to discomfort on both the caretaker's and the kid's parts. If you find yourself a bit uncomfortable discussing the benefits of masturbation, then you may need to explore your own ideas on masturbation before starting up this talk with your kids. You don't need to give details on how it's done, but at least let them know it's totally natural, totally OK and best done in private since that's not something that everyone around them consented to being a part of."
"Linking love and sex is incredibly common but can lead to some confusion down the line as hormones kick in. The potential benefit of loving someone before you decide to have sex can be presented, but it shouldn't be portrayed as the only way to enjoy sex. You can also let them know that they can choose to wait until they are ready to have sex, which only they can really know for sure."
"Make efforts to normalize alternative relationship styles, gender expressions and sexualities. Back in the day, the only families you ever saw on TV were a husband and wife with their biological children. Nowadays, families are incredibly diverse and it can be very beneficial for children to see all kinds of different families including same-sex couples, open or poly relationships, families with adopted or foster children, blended families, and family members that are part of the LGBTQIA+ community." - Praia Westerband-Otero, Remote Sex and Relationship Therapist
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Motor City native, Atlanta living. Sagittarius. Writer. Sexpert. Into all things magical, mystical, and unknown. I'll try anything at least once but you knew that the moment I revealed that I was a Sag.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
With two Eclipses happening this month, this is one of the powerhouse months of 2023 and one that will be unforgettable for many. The month begins in Libra Season, and with Mercury also entering Libra on October 4th. When Mercury is in Libra, the focus is on keeping the peace, creating harmony, and finding the beauty in life. Relationships, finances, pleasure, and creation are all the focus during Libra Season, and this month overall will be creating a lot of positive change in these areas of life.
What October 2023 Has In Store For Your Zodiac Sign
On October 8th, Venus moves into earth sign Virgo, and love takes on a more serious and grounded tone here. Venus in Virgo has high standards and wants the best of the best. There is a possibility of becoming overly critical in love or relationships with this energy, however overall, Venus in Virgo will be focused on letting go of unhealthy behaviors in love and creating more positive ways of relating, giving, and receiving in relationships. A few days later, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn after going retrograde in Aquarius back in May, and fewer power struggles and obstacles are more likely.
With Pluto direct in Capricorn, it is easier to reach your goals, build success, and see your own self-empowerment in it all.
On October 12th, Mars enters Scorpio, and Mars loves being in this water sign as it’s the ruler of Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio is passionate and direct and heats things up when it comes to your relationships. Mars will be in Scorpio until November 24th, and a spark is definitely being lit. A few days later, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra.
This Solar Eclipse is creating a fresh start in love, but may also be bringing things to the forefront that are uncomfortable to see. A Solar Eclipse in Libra is relationship-oriented, and this is where you will be seeing the most impact now.
Before the month ends, Mercury enters Scorpio on October 22nd, Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th. The end of October is when a lot of big moves are being made, and transformations are occurring, and it’s about letting go of baggage before moving forward again. The Lunar Eclipse in Taurus is another eclipse that has an impact on relationships, as both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Through what is changing and transforming in some of your close relationships, this energy suggests there is greater love on the other side of it. Find gratitude in where you are, and stand in hope and self-belief for where you want to be.
Your October 2023 Monthly Horoscopes
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your strength is needed this month, Aries. During October, the Sun is in Libra, meaning the Sun is in your 7th house. The 7th house is the house of love and relationships, but it’s also the house of open enemies and opposition. This month, you will be finding your balance between the opening you are seeing in your life right now and what still needs to be built.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in this area of your chart, the 7th house, and this is an impactful time for you emotionally. The intentions you have been setting in your love life and financially are creating a new scene for you. This is a good month to do more of the things that make you happy, to get creative, and to notice the beauty in your life. Before the month ends, your ruling planet, Mars, moves into your 8th house, and things get deep and even more emotional for you moving into November.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of reflection for you, Taurus. There is a lot happening this month and a lot happening for you personally, yet you are taking the time to tend to your inner world and recreate your safe spaces. With Venus in a fellow earth sign and in your 5th house of romance for most of this month, you will be sure to have plenty of love in your life to help you through some of the downtime you are getting in October.
Mars moves into your house of love on October 12th, and this is heating things up for you in your relationships and sex life. Fuel your passions and notice what is lighting you up inside right now. Before the month ends, on October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your sign, and you are going through some major life changes. You are closing one chapter of your life of self-discovery and moving forward with a new view of yourself and the world around you.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about letting go, Gemini. You are moving through a time of releasing what has been filling your world with more chaos and confusion than clarity and are paving a new path for yourself. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is in your house of happiness for most of this month, and you are really thinking of the things that your heart wants and expressing yourself through this space of openness as well. Communication channels are exciting for you this month.
On October 14th, the New Moon Eclipse will be highlighting all of the energy of love you have been feeling this month and will be helping you hone in on your creative passions and hobbies as well. This month is surprising you on how well things turn out when you let go of what isn’t working. The second eclipse of the month is on the 28th, and this one for you is about laying the past to rest once and for all and giving yourself time to heal and process.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is an activating month for you, Cancer. There are some eye-opening moments happening, and a lot of things are coming to a head. The energy of the month is about letting things find their place and allowing yourself to be okay in the process. Venus is in your 3rd house of communication for most of this month, and you will be able to communicate more freely how you are feeling and what you need in your relationships right now.
With the Sun in Libra and in your 4th house for most of October, home is really where the heart is right now. Spending time in comfortable environments where you feel the most at ease is nourishing. Before the month ends, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your 11th house of community, and things are coming full circle for you. Lean on your support systems and community for an extra hand, and know that you deserve to take up space.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of things moving forward for you, Leo. Patience is still needed, as things may not be moving as quickly as expected, however, they are moving nonetheless, and you are leaving the space of stagnation you have been feeling the past couple of months. Openings are coming into your life, and with Venus now in your 2nd house, you are able to capitalize on what you have been investing in and claim your abundance.
The Solar Eclipse happening mid-month will be awakening something within you when it comes to expressing yourself. You are breaking free from fears, limitations, and self-judgments and seeing yourself as someone who deserves to be heard. The Sun is also in this area of your chart until the end of the month, and you have all the support from the universe right now to speak up and speak your truths.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of blessings for you, Virgo. This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs for you, and in the second half of this year, you really get to settle into more stability and positive fruition. You are being guided to use your instincts wisely this month, however, so as to keep blessings rolling. Your ruling planet, Mercury, will be in your 2nd house of income for most of the month, as well as the Sun, and financially, this is a really good month for you.
On October 8th, Venus moves into your sign, and you are receiving and feeling the love right now. Venus will be in your sign until November 8th, and over the next month, this is a good time for your relationships and business, receiving positive feedback, and putting yourself out there. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse happening in your 9th house of adventure, and you could be seeing some travel or education plans coming to fruition now. You are really ready to enjoy how far you have come this month.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about creating your dreams, Libra. This is an exciting month for you and one where you are healing your inner child, gaining a new perspective, and manifesting your life. Libra Season is fully underway, and this is an impactful Libra Season for you, as there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your sign on the 14th. This Solar Eclipse is your time to shine, to bring your dreams to the forefront, and to let go of the past that doesn’t resonate with you anymore. It’s all about the vision this month; focus on the best one for yourself.
With the Sun and Mercury in your 1st house of self for most of the month and Venus in your 12th house of closures, you are finding your balance between the new and the old. You know there is a lot to release emotionally in your life still, but you are also giving yourself the space and freedom to soak in the good that has already arrived and making you happy right now. On October 23rd, Libra Season ends, and you are ready to focus more on your plans for the future.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rebirth for you, Scorpio. This is one of the most powerful months for you and one where you are starting fresh in many ways. Mercury is in your house of endings for most of the month, and your mind is focused on your spirituality, finding solutions, and letting go of perspectives and habits that don’t serve you or your health. Through the transformations that are occurring right now, new life is coming to fruition.
Mars and Mercury both enter your sign before Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and by the end of October, the energy moves from release to receive. You have more energy at your disposal when Mars is in your sign, and you are moving through a time of passion, action, and making things happen for yourself. This Scorpio Season for you is one where you are creating a new life for yourself and following the dreams you left to the wayside.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Sagittarius, October is all about the heart and about showing up. This month for you is a time of support, friendship, and community, and a time where you are really discovering who your people are. You are awakening to what your inner child needs to heal and are seeking forgiveness this month. This is a time for you to move toward a new path in your life, one that feels more fulfilling for you and your well-being.
Venus is in Virgo and in your 10th house of career this month, and you are seeing some positive changes within your professional world. You are being received especially favorably right now, and this is a good month to ask for a promotion, network, or redefine your career goals. On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your 11th house, and your hopes and dreams are coming true for you. The clarity you gain this month is life-changing.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about patience, finding your peace, and exploring the world, Capricorn. You are focusing a lot on your belief systems, your intentions, and what goals you have set for yourself and your life. Venus is in your 9th house of adventure for most of the month, and you are really thinking about the big picture right now. You are doing more things differently this time of the year, thinking outside of the box and allowing your intentions to come to fruition.
On October 10th, Pluto goes direct in your sign. Pluto retrograde entered your sign in June, and you finally get to settle into the transformations that have been occurring since then. You’ve had a lot of moments of self-clarity and change, but now you are ready to live in this space and experience fewer changes to your environment. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening, and this Lunar Eclipse is a time of love coming full circle for you. Relationships are developing at the end of October, and you are letting go of the past in love.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about allowing life to unfold effortlessly, Aquarius. The path of least resistance is the most rewarding one, and this month, you are tapping into your inner faith. You have truly been trusting the process, and with the Sun in your 9th house for most of the month, the divine guidance is there for you right now. This month is about trusting that things are coming together for you and enjoying your life how you can right now.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening, and this eclipse is helping you build new foundations in your life. You have goals you want to set, places you want to see, and people you want to meet, and this eclipse is highlighting all of that for you. The second eclipse of the month is happening on the 28th, and this Lunar Eclipse is about letting things settle in, finding your ground, and nourishing your inner world. You are going within a lot this month, and through the new insight you have found, you are ready to make some concrete decisions that have been needed.
PISCESPiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of compassion, nurture, and love, Pisces. You are putting the love into your life and feeling this energy come back to you as well. Venus is in Virgo, your opposite sign, for most of the month, and this is good energy when it comes to your relationships and your love life. Your focus is on the people in your life and where you want things to grow in love, and you are putting in the effort to make your dreams come true for you here.
With the Sun also in your 8th house of commitments for most of the month, another love area of your chart, you can expect this to be a more emotional month for you. You are getting vulnerable, expressing where you stand, and creating a new slate for yourself in love. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening in your 3rd house of communication, and the messages and insights you have been looking for are coming in.
The end of the month is a busier time for you, and you will be suddenly seeing everything you want to do and plan right now.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole