Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang have done it again with their new book ‘Welcome to Sex’. Open the book, then prepare to open a meaningful dialogue with your teens.
I don’t mean to make sex awkward with our children, I really don’t. I want to be oh-so-cool, covering all the basic ‘what goes where’ information, alongside the important knowledge that sex is just as much fun and silly as it is meaningful. Naturally, I fail miserably. I mean, read that sentence again.
Sex and parents really just don’t go together. And they shouldn’t, in my opinion. Having struggled for years with the fact that teens killed my sex life, I don’t want to do the same to theirs. No one – NO ONE – wants to be doing the deed armed with information gleaned from a D+M with their mum.
Over to you, ‘Welcome to Sex’
So, it was with great relish that I received my copy of ‘Welcome to Sex’ by Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes (superbly subtitled ‘Your no-silly-questions guide to sexuality, pleasure and figuring it out’). I knew from their previous ‘Welcome to Consent‘ and ‘Welcome to Your Period‘ books that this book would be invaluable and it didn’t let me down. From myth-busting (can you believe boys are still trying the old ‘blue balls’ line?) to explaining that it’s okay if (a) you don’t want to have sex or (b) you do want to have sex or (c) you want to have sex but no one seems to want to have sex with you, this book is brilliant.
‘How do I know I’m ready?’
Here, for example, is Yumi and Melissa’s response to the question “How do I know I’m ready” (I’ve shortened it considerably, but you still get the idea):
“Figuring it out can mess with your head! There’s no one way to know if you’re ready, but some questions you can ask yourself are:
- Do I know how to care for my body? (Avoiding pregnancy, preventing STIs, etc)
- Do I understand that nervousness and excitement might be overwhelming and that I don’t have to go through with it?
- What are the reasons I DO want to have sex? Are they reasons about me – or about the other person?
- Will I be able to say what I like and don’t like, and be listened to?
- Will I feel safe?
- How confident am I that I will still respect myself, and be respected, even if things feel awkward or don’t go to plan?
- Will I be able to call ‘stop’ if I want to? And be listened to?
- Does the idea of doing it make me feel excited, or sick or terrified?
- Is there anything different that we could be doing that I’d prefer to do?
- Am I giving consent freely? Is the person I want to have sex with giving consent freely?”
Woah, how good is that list? And rest assured, the rest of ‘Welcome to Sex’ is equally as thoughtful, inclusive and approachable.
‘Welcome to Sex’ is a how-to, but also a why-to
There’s a whole section devoted to what to do if sex feels awkward or is disappointing. Or if you get confused about your relationship because of it. In fact, the chapter about relationships (plus the one about body acceptance) is reason enough to get your hands on a copy of this book, even if the sex thing never comes up. (* Aside: I can’t believe how often the word ‘comes’ comes up in this article… Baader–Meinhof phenomenon, anyone?)
However, naturally ‘Welcome to Sex’ is mostly about having shame-free sex and that’s a very good thing indeed. It will carefully explain exactly how to finger someone, flirt, perform oral or anal sex and give an interesting rundown on a few positions worth trying. All while reminding teens that sex should never be expected, painful or rushed. This book is a warm hand-hold (well-lubricated) through the importance of consent and readiness, plus it’s full of tips on how to do it right once you get the green light.
From a parent’s perspective, ‘Welcome to Sex‘ is a brilliant way to open a more detailed conversation about sex when you are ready to move on from the ‘what goes where’ young kid stuff. I will always advocate for parents being at the front of their children’s sex education. It’s up to us to teach our kids that sex is natural, meaningful and pretty all-round awesome once you get the hang of it.
But this book is also a good reminder that once they reach the age of consent, our kid’s sex life is not actually our business. They may have a very different idea to our own of the role they want sex to play in their life and ‘their life’ are the key operating words here.
My big tip when giving your teens this book is to be as frank and open as you can when both gifting the book and discussing it. Two ears, one mouth, remember? (This has been one of my mantras throughout the teen years. I have a tendency to sermonise from the mount – huge surprise, I know – and they hate it.)
And never, ever mention your own sex life to your teen. Don’t ask me how I know, but it’s an instant conversation killer.
Images all supplied.