Positive Parenting: Having “The Talk” with Kids

Talking with your kids or teens about romantic relationships and sex is not the easiest topic to take on.

But experts say healthy attitudes towards both are fostered early on.

A new study by the Harvard University Project Making Caring Common found having “the talk” about sex and respect often doesn’t happen.

Here’s a few ways parents can change that.

Almost every week there’s a new report of a high-profile person accused of sexual harassment.

Harvard child psychologist Rick Weissbourd studies attitudes toward sex and sexual harassment. His team surveyed 3,000 students age 18 to 25 from diverse backgrounds. Researchers found 87 percent had experienced cat-calls, unwanted advances, or name-calling, and when it comes to sexual harassment—there’s a disconnect.

“In our research a lot of boys think cat-calling is flattering to girls,” Weissbourd says. “A lot of girls say it’s offensive to them, and frightening to them.”

The researchers also found 75 percent of the young women they surveyed did not discuss sexual harassment with parents or teachers.

“This is something that is pervasive, more pervasive than bullying and we’re not talking about it,” Weissbourd says.

Parents need to define sexual harassment for their kids and can use popular media to start the topic.

If a song comes on the radio with degrading lyrics, parents can talk about the negative impacts of those terms with their kids.

And if there’s a misogynistic scenario played out on T.V., calling attention to it and explaining how it’s not something to joke about with peers is another way to help kids develop healthy attitudes towards sex and sexual harassment.

You can find more recommendations on talking to your kids about sexual harassment here.

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