In addition to teaching English to my students, I have been a health educator for about 15 years. The stories of how that came about are complicated, but basically, when I was pregnant and then had a baby, I became the best person to talk to teenagers about why they DIDN’T want to become parents too soon. I was supremely cranky and sleep deprived, and they were the unfortunate audience to some not awesome days.
When I started, I was pretty naive but enthusiastic. I dove into a lot of resources, and was fortunate to have a lot of students MORE than willing to try to make me uncomfortable asking weird questions. I also have a very supportive boss who supported my curiosity and desire to create space for sex ed in an English class.
I was so fortunate to have learned what I did early in my parenting, because I have come across many resources that I think are invaluable for parents of kids of all ages. It requires a little bit of rebel inside you to embrace open talk about sex and sexuality with your kids, but it is worth it. I have been fortunate to see my former students become sexual health advocates for their peers and even go into professions around health advocacy because they learned how to talk openly about sexual health and seek resources that worked for them.
As a parent, I am a huge fan of the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital Program: Heart to Heart. It provides honest information in a non-confrontational, funny format to help teens and tweens understand the journey to adulthood ahead. They do it in a way that is as non-restrictive as possible but also creates room for all parents to follow up with conversations that fit their families. It has a basic introduction to sexual reproduction that can be uncomfortable (one of my children refused to speak to me afterward because she did NOT want to grow up YET!) but scientific and, again, created space to start a conversation at home where each child was.
If you are thinking about going and have questions about my experiences going twice with two VERY different daughters, let me know!