Women's health advocate Jane Fonda explains how mothers can help daughters advocate for their sexual health.
Start talking about sex, sexuality, relationships early and often, and by early I mean, in an age-appropriate way, in elementary school in terms of helping the girl feel respect for her body, control over her body, the sense that it belongs to her. And then, gradually as the girl grows up, increasing the dialogue to include, “What is a good relationship? How do you know if you’re in a good relationship?”
It’s the emotional things, the psychological things that are just as important or more important than the plumbing stuff. The plumbing they can learn in school already, although its amazing how much they don’t know, young girls, especially young disadvantaged girls. You know, they think that if they’ve had sex standing up they can’t get pregnant, for example.
So, helping your daughter understand how her body works and there’s a lot of, lot of books that are very good that American Girl® puts out books for young teenagers for example, and there are others. I am writing one myself in fact that helps parents to know how to talk to their daughters.
Don’t wait for the big talk. It’s usually too late and it’s self-conscious. It’s got to start early so that you’re comfortable already and you can, like for example, I have a ranch in New Mexico and there’s a lot of wild life and at certain times of the year there’s what’s called the rut and that’s when the deer, the male deer mate with the females. What a learning opportunity.
You know, there are always learning opportunities where you can introduce the concept of reproduction, sexuality, all those kinds of things and, you know, even some what I consider not very positive television shows. If you’re an older teenager looking at “Sex and the City” with an older teenager provides opportunities to talk about good and bad. It’s called social inoculation. It allows the child to politicize what she is looking at so that she understands, you know, “Why are models so super-thin?” Because it creates anxiety in you that you will then try to assuage by buying that product; those kinds of things.
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