#13 Talking to Kids about their body, consent and sex with Bridie Allan – The Matrescence Podcast
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Kelly: [00:00:00] The birth of a baby is a defining moment in a woman’s life.
[00:00:14] Bree: [00:00:14] But what about the birth of the mother?
[00:00:16]Kelly: [00:00:16] That’s right. When a baby is born. So two is another,
[00:00:20] Bree: [00:00:20] this transition from woman to mother has a name it’s called Matrescence.
[00:00:25] Kelly: [00:00:25] This developmental stage is as powerful and irreversible as adolescents, and yet few women have ever heard of it.
[00:00:32] Bree: [00:00:32] So let’s talk about
[00:00:33] Kelly: [00:00:33] it. Let’s talk about it. Each episode we will bring in honest and thought provoking conversations. Evidence-based research and knowledgeable guests. In order to help urge and more powerful version of yourself.
[00:00:47] Bree: [00:00:47] So join us, your hosts, Kelly and Bree, as we attempt to make sense of Al Matrescence journey and to help you make sense of your
[00:01:02] Okay. So today we are talking about a topic that I am super passionate about. So I’m really excited to have this conversation, but I wanted to start by giving you a little bit of context in case you’re not familiar with our situation. So I have been an nanny to Kel’s boys for about five years now, since they were.
[00:01:20] Five and seven. And throughout those five years, I have filled a role somewhere between mom, sister, and friend. And over this time I have become the boys go-to person to talk to about tricky things. And the nature of those conversations has changed over the years and continues to change. So we are constantly communicating, , Kelly and I about how to best approach these conversations.
[00:01:46] So while I’m having them with my own three year old, I’m also dealing with them in the capacity of a 12 and 11 year old as well. So as we try to gather the information for ourselves about how best to do this, we have brought in an expert for you today. And that is Brighty. So thanks for joining us bratty.
[00:02:02] You’re welcome. And we are so excited to hear from you. Do you want to tell us a little bit about yourself, who you are and what kind of work you’re doing in this space at the moment?
[00:02:10] Bridie: [00:02:10] So I have been working with, , adults and children in a sexual health, sexual knowledge, education space for quite a long time.
[00:02:20] , I spent. A long time working in prisons with child sex offenders, , victims, perpetrators, uh, youth offenders, women, , and then moved into community psychiatric care. And that’s something that also has, is a lot of. Sexual issues that are very prevalent in the industry. , and now I work with children.
[00:02:43] Bree: [00:02:43] Beautiful. So how did you get into that work
[00:02:46] Bridie: [00:02:46] into which work
[00:02:47] Bree: [00:02:47] any of it? Where did you start? Did you go to university? Oh,
[00:02:51] Bridie: [00:02:51] that’s a great question. You should have thought that one. , so I have a bachelor of psych, a master’s degree in mental health and my current master’s degree is in sexology. Beautiful.
[00:03:03] So you’re working
[00:03:03] Bree: [00:03:03] on that at the moment I
[00:03:04] Bridie: [00:03:04] am. I’m almost finished.
[00:03:05] Bree: [00:03:05] Wow. So you’re the perfect person to answer our questions today. Just enough
[00:03:09] Bridie: [00:03:09] of a student that I’m still buried in a text. Yes.
[00:03:12] Bree: [00:03:12] And interesting. Well, interestingly, I guess Brady is not a parent, so she’s coming in with a fresh set of eyes.
[00:03:18] She’s engaging with these topics multiple times a day and with many different ages and that’s it. Why we wanted to talk to you about it because we have our own experience talking to our boys, but we wanted to widen that perspective and get to know what you’re hearing from kids and adults about their experiences with these topics.
[00:03:36] Bridie: [00:03:36] Yeah. And then the air industry I work in at the moment, we do a lot of, , work with, uh, traa informed, , frameworks. So that means that most of the kids we work with have some level of traa. , that also means that they are not necessarily aware of sex, but they are aware that their consent at some point has been breached.
[00:03:57] Yeah. So it means that I’ve worked with kids from ages five to 25, and then adults beyond that in previous lines of work, , where sexual health, , autonomy consent, uh, knowledge of your own body has not necessarily been featured very heavily in their education and is something that. , I now personally am very passionate about making habits.
[00:04:21] Bree: [00:04:21] I mean, I guess, you know, better than anyone, how important these conversations are, and we are going to absolutely dive into that, but I want to start at the very beginning and get to the bottom of. Where do we start? So if we have young children, I have a three-year-old boy myself, where do we start with these conversations?
[00:04:39] What are we talking to them about? What does that look like?
[00:04:42] Bridie: [00:04:42] So really great question. , and one that I was thinking about most of today, it’s something I think starts from the beginning. Exactly. Where you’ve, you know, said, we look at it from the beginning when they’re born, as they’re growing up those conversations.
[00:04:58] Like any type of role modeling and learning that happens around us should be happening gradually you don’t. , I guess the best way to put it is when you get to 15 at the moment, there’s this expectation that now you’re like, you’re burgeoning into adulthood. You’re going to be okay to talk about sex.
[00:05:13] This is the age where we can start having these conversations. And it’s not adults too late. Yeah, exactly. You’re too late already. But to. To turn on a 15 year old and be like, great. So now I have this huge amount of information to give you. Yep. And not all of it’s going to be contextually, correct.
[00:05:31] Because you’ve already, maybe experienced it or someone’s already told you something completely different or you have, , now I. I guess a view of that act or behavior that has been impacted by an experience that you maybe shouldn’t have had, or wouldn’t have had if you’d known about it and what it was earlier.
[00:05:48] Yeah. So having those conversations from a really young age, like from the moment they start doing things, when you have a clean slate, Yeah.
[00:05:55] Bree: [00:05:55] Yeah, absolutely. And this is something that we are still learning with our little boy, but we are trying to have conversations with him about his body, , and using terms that are anatomically correct.
[00:06:07] And is that something that you think is important? Absolutely.
[00:06:11] Bridie: [00:06:11] Yeah. Yep. There’s been, , not to, I guess, in terms of stories and stuff like that. When you teach someone there’s a body part that they have, and you don’t give it a name or you give it a name as something else, your teaching them that, that body part is something that they shouldn’t talk about.
[00:06:31] Yeah. Creating that shame. Yeah. So even though you’re not necessarily being like, you should be ashamed of this body part, you’re being like, we don’t call it a vulva. That’s your private place. Yeah. It’s like, okay, well now I can’t talk about it. You’ve given it a name as a private place. So we can’t discuss that and I can’t bring it up.
[00:06:49] And you’re intrinsically teaching that that’s something that is going to be difficult to discuss now and light up. And it’s going to be difficult to show now in later. Absolutely. And
[00:06:59] Bree: [00:06:59] that is something that I struggled with when I was younger. We from memory, my parents called penises. I’m thinking Willy’s and Volvo’s, , front bottoms, which I didn’t even know
[00:07:12] Bridie: [00:07:12] that game.
[00:07:12] I see the part there’s there is, there is the crack, it’s just a little smaller
[00:07:17] Bree: [00:07:17] and it was so bizarre because all of my friends use different terms for that. It was like, what do you call it? What do you call it? And no one called it a Volvo. I think that is definitely a shift we’ve seen quite recently to using vulva as opposed to vagina.
[00:07:31] As it should be. , but I remember as I was getting older and, you know, for example, going to the doctor and I was like, what do I call it? Like, I kind of call it my front bottom cause, but I felt like vagina, which was the word I would have used at the time was such a dirty word. And I hadn’t even come up with that belief myself.
[00:07:49] It had been handed down to me. And so that is something that we try to do with our little boy now is. Call our parts, what they are, but I have still had to work through so much discomfort. And it’s interesting because it’s not uncomfortable for him. He hasn’t realized that. Some people feel shame over this.
[00:08:06] It’s just what it is. Like a knee is a knee and a leg as a leg. So I guess that’s what you mean in terms of standing at the very beginning. And the other place that I was interested to hear about is how do we start with consent at this age? And when is it appropriate to start talking to kids about consent?
[00:08:25] Bridie: [00:08:25] Again, I think the beginning, , and it is a really great question because. I guess, uh, sexual exploration for children starts
[00:08:36] Bree: [00:08:36] from birth. Yes. And you have a really interesting statistic on this for us, don’t you? Yeah,
[00:08:40] Bridie: [00:08:40] I do. Which I think is great. So, , in my, my research who travels that I’ve taken very recently, , Most, uh, there’s been a lot of research into the age that someone might experience their first orgasm and research has shown that it can actually happen from about the age of two to,
[00:08:59] Bree: [00:08:59] so that’s probably really confronting for
[00:09:02] Bridie: [00:09:02] a lot of people to hear.
[00:09:03] And it’s, and it is because like, from the age of, from the age of two is actually when most children will start, , stuffs, self stimulating, , and like, which is a form of masturbation as most of us know, , And for them, it’s curiosity in play. This is a body part. , the same way you might touch your toes, touch your knees.
[00:09:24] I’ve got this things between my legs. What the hell does it do? Like where on an, uh, you know, we’re on a journey here with Dora the exploring this. Yeah. And. So for that reason, like a lot of, I think a lot of parents get really uncomfortable because they know that to be a sexual act, whereas children know it to be curiosity.
[00:09:41] Bree: [00:09:41] Yeah. And I’ve heard, , just on Facebook fors and things like that. Parents who are deeply uncomfortable with this, it’s not something I’ve really experienced. My, Oh, actually we have, we’ve had this a little bit with my little boy recently where he’s, , Getting an erection and he’s so confused by it.
[00:09:59] And he’s like, why won’t it go down? And he was like, trying to track it down and then it’s just coming up more. And as you said, it’s just, it’s curiosity. He’s like, what is my body doing? And how does it work? But I know that this is super uncomfortable for a lot of parents and. I’m curious, do you have any strategies or suggestions how to navigate that?
[00:10:19] Because I think a lot of us are mindful that we don’t want to create shame for what is a normal behavior, but some people struggle to identify whether it’s a case of it’s okay to do, but we do it in private or different things. How would you suggest people navigate that?
[00:10:34] Bridie: [00:10:34] But with two year olds, I’m not entirely sure that’s something that I think it comes down to maybe context, if you’re in Kohl’s and they’re doing that, maybe, you know, It’s okay
[00:10:46] Bree: [00:10:46] say, it’s okay
[00:10:47] Bridie: [00:10:47] to say this is something we do at home.
[00:10:49] Yeah. Yeah. I’m a little bit older that conversation might look like. How does that feel for you?
[00:10:55] Bree: [00:10:55] Okay. To masturbate
[00:10:57] Bridie: [00:10:57] the yogurt aisle is not the place put it away, but like, yeah. Sorry. You’re having, if you’re having that a conversation with someone a little older and you’re like, well, how does that feel for you?
[00:11:08] Do you like the way that feels and then have them be like, Oh yeah, it actually feels really nice. You’ve normalized. It. You’ve made it. Okay. This is a normal thing. And now we’re going to be like, well, that’s, that’s great. That’s really good. Natural you to do that, but it is a private thing. So we might do that in our, in our bedrooms.
[00:11:25] And then you can move that conversation if you wanted to, into the topic of like the consent where you’d be like, this is yours also. So no one is allowed to touch it, but you, yeah. And yeah. That’s the end of it. So
[00:11:37] Bree: [00:11:37] it’s okay to create boundaries around it. So normalize it, but also, you know, we have certain boundaries around that to keep you safe.
[00:11:43] Yeah. ,
[00:11:45] Bridie: [00:11:45] it is a very, very normal part like erections, , start from around the age of two, , girls can self lubricate from that age as well. It’s really like we start forming sexuality and our biological, like. Sexual nature from the moment we’re born, it’s our own, I guess, shame and discomfort that acts as a barrier.
[00:12:08] Absolutely. Probably educating around that and normalizing it, making it comfortable for kids.
[00:12:14] Bree: [00:12:14] Absolutely. And I think that that is what is so challenging for us as parents is often the age that we think that these things are happening. It’s often, much sooner and trying to. Wrap our head around that and get comfortable with that is really challenging.
[00:12:28] , so I think what I’m hearing you say is that we, we tend to build upon it. It’s a building process. So how do you judge, what is age appropriate and do you follow their lead or do you lead the conversation? What should that look like?
[00:12:44] Bridie: [00:12:44] That one, again, context dependent. I think your mentoring
[00:12:48] Bree: [00:12:48] questions today.
[00:12:50] Bridie: [00:12:50] I think I’m bringing this case, , that not every child is going to have the same experience and be exposed to the same things. So I know someone who’s a friend of mine who from a very young age, her and her wife would walk around topless in front of their kids. That’s the cow. Yeah. Make it natural, make it normal.
[00:13:07] And they’re 18 now. And those kids, like despite having a period of time where they felt slightly uncomfortable with their bodies, not anymore, we’ve moved back into like feeling incredibly comfortable with themselves then going, is this what I’m supposed to be doing? Like, because we’re
[00:13:24] Bree: [00:13:24] still getting these messages
[00:13:25] Bridie: [00:13:25] from society telling us that’s a bit uncomfortable and then moving back into.
[00:13:29] Well, no, I still really liked the way I look because we’re teaching that. So I guess. It’s context dependent in the sense that you don’t know what a child has necessarily seen or been through. , you’ve got kids growing up in abusive situations, , having witnessed pretty horrific things. And if you have a six-year-old that comes up to you and says, what’s a blow job, and you know that they’ve heard that word before.
[00:13:53] , and then that’s shut down. They’re going to learn about it somewhere. They’re going to learn about it from someone and it may not be delivered. In a way that teachers healthy, like respect for self and consent around that behavior at a later stage. And there is a way to phrase it. There’s a healthy way to have those conversations.
[00:14:14] I’m not suggesting you run out and grab a six year old and like start talking about blow jobs with them. But it is, I think dis you’ve got. Discretion around what you know of that child and the experiences that they have and how you might phrase that for them. And I guess
[00:14:33] Bree: [00:14:33] that is the, the importance of parents being the ones to have these conversations is that we know our kids better than anyone else.
[00:14:40] And we may know that, you know, maybe our first child was ready for these topics at, at 10. And our second child is a little bit more shy and introverted and, , Not that interested in, he might not be ready till his 12th, so we are able to gauge this. , but it was something that I actually learnt from working with Cal was that when I came into their family, They were very open about the way they talked about things.
[00:15:03] The boys understood the basics of how a baby was made. And that was so different to my upbringing growing up, that I was kind of like, Whoa, like, should you know that I was caught off guard by at seven years, how much they knew? And I thought it was fantastic, but it triggered so much shame within me to start to have these conversations because I had never had to have them before.
[00:15:25] And. I’m curious to hear what your experience was like growing up, because you’ve ended up studying sexology, which is incredible. Is that a natural choice for you? Like did, was that representative of your childhood that you talked about these things quite openly or was that, uh, something that came later?
[00:15:44] Bridie: [00:15:44] , it was about both. My mom was always very much like, uh, this is the words we use. These are how babies are made. She’s a nurse, so it wasn’t. Something that she ever tried to hide. , if you came home and you had like a bit of an EG Volver, she’d be like, right-o pants off. Let me have a look, hops, gloved up, and then she’d be like in there and you’re like, this is mom.
[00:16:07] Stop it. It’s not cool. , my dad was, , Aware of these things and would have the really biological conversations, but kind of stayed clear of, uh, too much crossover between masculine and feminine. Is that something you see a loss? Yeah, I think there’s a lot of men who are quite uncomfortable having those conversations with daughters, because from a young age, they’re kind of taught that, you know, women are sexual creatures, so.
[00:16:34] To have a conversation like that with a female child that is yours. Biologically is inherently unconscious. Is it important
[00:16:42] Bree: [00:16:42] or is it okay for one parent to do, what do you think?
[00:16:45] Bridie: [00:16:45] , look, I wouldn’t, I’m not going to comment on that so much. I don’t think because I don’t know. And I don’t want to say one or the other because I mean, there’s families where dad is the one that has those conversations and he’s probably amazing at it.
[00:16:59] Or if we’ve got two dads, they’re having a great time with that conversation as well. So it’s not. It’s not necessarily important. Yeah. , as long as someone is, I suppose, but even with those conversations, I know, , sex in my, when I was growing up was always treated with a sense of hor, , which I always found, like now I find it very important to tell.
[00:17:21] I used to describe most things when I’m having conversations about it. , in terms of deciding to pursue this line of work, I think, , It occurred to me when I was about 14, , that I wanted to, I wanted to understand six didn’t quite flush it out enough to really know what it was about, but I remember having a conversation with my grandmother.
[00:17:46] And being like, I’d like to be a sex therapist thinking that it would freak her out. She was like, you’re going to be the damn dropped dead. My Nana, I remember having, I had a, like a, a 365 day calendar, Kama Sutra thing on the wall. I would have been 15 and I’m amazing. She like. It wasn’t. I thought it was a joke.
[00:18:06] Like it was like law. This is funny. I’m a teenage all these oral sex positions. Haven’t really learned about them. And my grandmother came over and like sat next to me. And she was like, Oh, this one, you mean your par do. And I was like, damn, but it was very much like, , treated with hor was always treated with hor and everyone was always using the correct biological terms.
[00:18:28] And we, if you asked a question, , I think socially the social constructs around behaviors like blowjobs and stuff. My dad would have left the room. , but in terms of like learning about your body, learning about consent, learning about, you know, people can’t touch you and all that sort of stuff that was happening right.
[00:18:51] Bree: [00:18:51] different to my own experience. It could not be more different because growing up it was not something we talked about at all. I do not remember my m ever talking to me about correct. All my dad. , especially not my dad ever talking to me about correct. , anatomical names about sex. I received no education around periods.
[00:19:13] It was kind of like figure it out as you go. , We just did not talk about these things. And I’ve gone back and asked my mom in, in later years because we do have really good relationship. , you know, why, why not? And she said, I was just so uncomfortable. Like I just hoped that someone else would have the conversation like school.
[00:19:33] , and to me being mindful that all parents do the best that they can. , It seems almost negligent because for me it meant that I, as a, as a child and as a teenager, I was trying to figure these things out on my own. And so I was trying to gather my own information. And as you said, it’s not always from the best sources.
[00:19:56] Sometimes it’s from the internet. I think even more these days it’s from the internet and we can’t control or sensor that, , we can’t control what perspectives are being represented and whose, uh, generally men’s yep. Also trial and error and, , experiencing, and I just didn’t go into any of those situations feeling competent or pre prepared.
[00:20:23] , Do you think we’re changing this at all? Do you think we’re still relying on schools to educate our children about these topics? Or do you think we’re seeing more parents talk about them
[00:20:34] Bridie: [00:20:34] again, context dependent? I think it really depends where you go. , and which areas you go to, , in terms of schools, There is a push for changing sex education.
[00:20:47] Thankfully Australia as a whole doesn’t have any like abstinence only programs. There are countries in the world that do, , but we have, uh, biologically and medically based sex education. So what does that mean? That means we’re more likely to just be like, this is a vulva. Uh, this is a condom. If you don’t use it, you’re going to get an STI, get pregnant.
[00:21:09] You will die. Yeah. , you, won’t just, just a joke for anyone who couldn’t see my face. , but that, that idea that we, when we focus purely on the biological and the medical insects education, we completely disregard the socio-cultural and psychological impact of what sex is to a person and their identity.
[00:21:30] , the larger part of it, really. Yeah. And for that reason, when we do that, we, we leave a lot of kids without. Any real knowledge. Yeah. I guess, ability to have a conversation about it the same way we’ve left parents with that same
[00:21:48] Bree: [00:21:48] problem. Yeah, for sure. And this is something that you touched on before.
[00:21:52] That is very similar to my experiences that for me, with, with Kelly boys, when these conversations started to change tone from sex, for reproduction to pleasure, you know, curiosity about, , You know, where does this fit in this isn’t part of making babies. So why do people do that? That is when I started to find the conversations more uncomfortable and I had to work through my own shame.
[00:22:16] And do you think that that’s a barrier for a lot of parents in terms of talking to their kids is our own shame we carry about these things, or just a lack of. Information or the perception that someone else will talk to our kids. What do you think the barriers are? I think
[00:22:30] Bridie: [00:22:30] you’ve named pretty much all of them.
[00:22:32] , there’s a lot more obviously, but those are your big ones. I think there’s been, when we look back at what sex education has been previously, you’re looking at abstinence only, and then you’re looking at medical and. Like biological sex education. Those been shifted. We’ve shifted now, but you’re dealing with parents who have come from that era and their parents have come from the era before.
[00:22:54] So it’s intergenerational, , ignorance. It’s not the best word, but that’s what I’m going to use. , and it’s that concept that they’re learning from someone that didn’t learn. And then they’ve learned from someone that didn’t learn. So a barrier there is them going, I, I don’t know what to do. And I turned out, okay.
[00:23:15] I turned out. Yeah. I turned out, okay. I have a little bit of traa, but you know, for the most part, it’s all like the more mistakes you make, the more you learn, all that sort of stuff. And then seeming that the schools are going to do it. But at the same time, parents have such an, a say in the education system.
[00:23:31] I know that’s not necessarily true, but there are like people who do, , What’s the word I’m looking for. , have issues when we start to move away and increase slightly like the amount of sex education and what the focus is. So they keep it conservative. And parents have a site and that, that conservative nature, if you look at our government currently, you’re seeing what a conservative like approach would look like for sure.
[00:23:58] And so they’re expecting the schools to educate, but then at the same time, those schools don’t have permission to educate well effectively. Yeah. So you’re getting kids who are for parents. Being, I guess, , they’re not getting the education that they need from their parents. Cause the parents are too concerned uncomfortable.
[00:24:17] They’re not getting it from the schools because the schools are worried about what the parents are doing and the nature of the culture around them. And then on top of that, it’s just that sense that, , at some point they’ll just learn.
[00:24:31] Bree: [00:24:31] Yeah. So no one is having these conversations effectively.
[00:24:35] Bridie: [00:24:35] We also don’t like, if I can just really quickly, no one teaches us to sit in discomfort and it is uncomfortable.
[00:24:41] Yeah. As a parent, I feel like, and this is just completely off topic. But as a parent, I feel like there should be courses. Well, some sort of, , teaching available to let parents learn how to have uncomfortable and difficult conversations in a healthy way.
[00:24:55] Bree: [00:24:55] For sure. And I think there is a few out there.
[00:24:57] I’ll do a little bit of research and if I come across anything, I’ll check it in the episode notes. , but right, no, one’s telling us how to have these conversations. We’re kind of fending for ourselves, but as he said, we’re receiving one, one small part of sex education, but it’s not comprehensive at all.
[00:25:14] And. In my experience where that became problematic for me was that, and I’m not going to explain this eloquently, but I’m going to go with it because I didn’t have this foundation with my parents. So for example, they knew that I was sexually active, , or they knew that I was drinking alcohol. When I then inevitably found myself in a situation that was either uncomfortable or dangerous or where I needed their support.
[00:25:39] I didn’t feel that I could come to them because it was such a chasm to cross from. I have a daughter who’s not sexually active to, Hey, actually I am sexually active. And I found myself in this bad position and I need you to help. Yeah. Yeah. So I think that, that is the importance of, as you said, building on it because otherwise, you know, where are kids going?
[00:25:59] When they end up in these situations, I guess probably they’re calling you sometimes at work, not you personally,
[00:26:07] Bridie: [00:26:07] a home phone, but actually the way you even phrase that you’ve gone from having a kid who’s sexually not sexually active to sexually active, you’ve been activated. Congratulations. We’ve gone from this really black and white binary perspective of how sex works.
[00:26:23] And that’s not the case as you probably well know. And I think most people do you don’t just like trip and fall on Dick in a heterosexual relationship, or even in any sort of LGBT relationship. You don’t just suddenly like go to sex therapy. You start with like all of the full play that goes before it.
[00:26:41] And the, the non penetrative sexual acts that come before it, things that were not where we’re choosing to ignore again. Because we’re so focused on that binary perspective of penetrative sex. Yeah. Like now you’re sexually active. You went before you might’ve had, you know, might’ve been fingered, you might’ve done like oral, you might’ve done all of these things, but you’re now sexually active when you’ve hit that point.
[00:27:09] Bree: [00:27:09] So you think as parents, we need to be mindful that that is not the beginning. That sex is not the beginning, usually there’s things before that. And so we need to be having these ongoing conversations because I mean, if you’re not talking about sex, you’re not talking about safe sex, are you exactly beautifully?
[00:27:25] Bridie: [00:27:25] But even like, when you were saying before, going back to the beginning and having those conversations, as they pop up, they’re going to pop up and they’re going to pop up far before anyone actually starts having sex. At some point, someone’s going to be like, well, like, what is this? Do. What, uh, like what is sex?
[00:27:41] What is, , a blowjob? What is a anal? Like these questions will come up at ages before they will even think about doing it and rightly
[00:27:50] Bree: [00:27:50] or wrongly. These questions have very much come up with Kels boys. And at times there’ll be. They’ll be moments when I tell them, and there’ll be other ones where I say, Hey, I don’t think this is a conversation for me.
[00:28:00] I think this is one for mom and dad, or I’ll just say, I don’t think we’re at the point of talking about that. Like, let’s come circle back to it and we’ll get to that later. , and I’m not sure if that is right or wrong, but you know, as parents, we’re han too, and we’re doing our best to, to be honest and give information and still gauging what is appropriate and inappropriate.
[00:28:19] Because what I’m finding is that the kids are hearing this. I’m not sure if it’s online or at school people with older brothers. And so they don’t actually have any concept of what it is. They’re just asking about a term. And in those moments, it’s sometimes feels okay to me to be like, Hey, we’ll get to that.
[00:28:35] You know, we’re not, we’re not at that point yet. , but the cool thing about the way that we’ve engaged with these topics is that for me, at least there’s no huge moment of discomfort. I’ve always thought of the sex talk as being a, like, Sit down with your parents. And you know, we’re going to tell you how it really works, but there’s lots of little moments of discomfort, but because they’re getting an understanding that we’re building on, we just work through one and then we take a step and then we take a step and it’s just building, , instead of just having a massive talk where we like crush all the dreams and, you know,
[00:29:12] Bridie: [00:29:12] even that talk, when you talk about the sex talk, traditionally, that has been.
[00:29:16] , you will have sex. You will use a condom heterosexual, hetero, sorry, heterosexual normativity. And this is a period. Congratulations. Ready to blade. Yeah. You know, , we’re not talking about all of the other things. I don’t remember it
[00:29:31] Bree: [00:29:31] even being mentioned at school that that was anything other than sex.
[00:29:35] Bridie: [00:29:35] No. And they don’t want him to mention, well, I mean, considering the huge breadth of activity that happens, and that is considered sexual activity. We’re missing out on a lot. Yeah. And I think also
[00:29:47] Bree: [00:29:47] in terms of saying before, if you’re not talking about sex, we’re not talking about safe sex, but that’s the other thing is that we do not know the sexuality of our children when we’re having these conversations.
[00:29:57] So talking about sex in general, we can approach it from a position of heteronormativity. Am I getting the wed, right? Yeah.
[00:30:04] Bridie: [00:30:04] Sounds great. To me. I’m just making it up
[00:30:07] Bree: [00:30:07] way. We’re often the conversation from that perspective, if we are in a heterosexual relationship ourselves, but then it gives the opportunity to expand it and say, , and something I’ve said with Kelsey boys before is that, you know, this is what we commonly refer to as sex it’s penis in vagina, Pinar penetrative sex, but that’s not the only thing sex is.
[00:30:28] And it can also look different for different people. So it provides the opportunity to. Broaden that conversation. And that’s something that definitely doesn’t happen in schools is considering the different perspectives that sex comes
[00:30:39] Bridie: [00:30:39] from. Yeah, it absolutely doesn’t. I think there is a push nowadays to have that happen, , because we’re learning more and more that there’s such a significant nber of the population that identify as LGBT or QA plus.
[00:30:55] Got it. Yeah. , more than. Was previously
[00:31:00] Bree: [00:31:00] thought and it’s not something we can just tack onto the end of conversations. It needs to be integrated.
[00:31:05] Bridie: [00:31:05] Yeah. It’s I mean, like it’s a huge part of the population and it should have always been, but, you know, we can only change what we now can change. Absolutely.
[00:31:13] So having that as part of the conversation is really, really important. And we, like you said, we don’t. Yeah, we just don’t do it enough. And we also, when we approach sex again, it’s usually from a penetrative standpoint because we’re mostly focused on fear-based biological and medical education around. If you do this, you will get pregnant.
[00:31:32] You will get an STI. Yeah. But I mean, if we were to talk about that, how do lesbians get STRs? You’re not teaching that to the kids in your schools that will do identify as that.
[00:31:46] Bree: [00:31:46] Absolutely. So what sharing this information with kids, and this is something that I’ve struggled with personally, is how important is it for you to share your own experiences as an adult?
[00:31:57] Is that appropriate? Is that important? Is it beneficial? How do we, how do we approach that? Cause this is
[00:32:03] Bridie: [00:32:03] a great question. , and I say this because I work with, I work with families. , in a traa informed space. So when you have children who have traa, you have adults who have traa and you have grandparents who have traa.
[00:32:19] , and I know most of the kids I work with are under 10. Okay. , so we have kids that I work with who already have an innate fear of sex. Have a night fear of intimacy having an innate fear of relationships, because m will talk about the time they might’ve been raped. , as a, as a precursory warning, you know, this is what can happen to you if, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
[00:32:49] , if you’re sitting there going, you know, I know that this is there’s a potential danger there, but you’re projecting that fear. Onto a child that doesn’t understand this yet,
[00:33:01] Bree: [00:33:01] potentially without the context of this is normal and this is not normal. Maybe just giving them that
[00:33:06] Bridie: [00:33:06] normal. Exactly. So you’re giving them, you’re giving them sex and then normal perspective of sex comes from fear.
[00:33:13] Yeah. And for that reason, I think there’s. It’s context dependent. Again, we need to focus around it. Yeah. If you’re a dad you’re sitting on the couch and your son’s like, Oh, dad, I play with my penis today. And you’re like, good on you buddy. Meaning he’s like, did you? And you’re like, yeah, I did do like it, dad.
[00:33:32] Yeah, I do. You’d be like, Oh, okay, cool. Like those conversations around normalcy of masturbation and all that sort of stuff. If they’re coming from a more positive place, something that teachers bodily consent, autonomy, , and all that sort of stuff. Great. Yeah. But if you’re sitting there being like I had this really awful experience, and now I’m telling you about it, and this is the only thing that I will tell you about this activity that you will inevitably engage in.
[00:34:00] Hmm, you’re just sharing intergenerational traa. So
[00:34:03] Bree: [00:34:03] being really mindful of when it’s helpful and when it’s going to be
[00:34:06] Bridie: [00:34:06] understanding what age might work with that. So like talking to a seven, eight year old about your rape experience is going to have a different impact with sharing that with your 19 year old daughter, someone who has an understanding of the wider socio-cultural society that we live in.
[00:34:24] And the behaviors that people like exhibit and the relationships that you can have. Yeah. When an eight year old moderately know you as a parent and really that’s, the social circle is very, very small.
[00:34:36] Bree: [00:34:36] Ideally, we’re trying to give them the education to prevent themselves, them finding themselves in these situations instead of sharing them and scaring them.
[00:34:44] , Yeah, absolutely. And this with the boys, the way that I’ve tried to approach this is to show them that it’s okay for me to have boundaries and model that to them so that they can have their own. And when I, when I think it will be helpful, I will share the information, but sometimes they’ll ask me questions, , such as how old I was when I started having sex and.
[00:35:08] I can’t see the benefit in sharing that information with them and it feels private to me. So I’ll just tell them, I’ll say, you know, I don’t think that’s actually, that doesn’t feel appropriate for me to share with you. So I’m going to keep that to myself. Whereas there’s other times where I can talk about my experience in a way that I think hanizes me and.
[00:35:24] Closest that bridge, because I remember as a, as a child and as a teenager thinking that my parents never did anything that was kinky or sexual, or like, definitely not them. Like they’ve got four children, but I’m like, I don’t know how that happened, but it was not through this means. And so I think that there’s incredible value in just like hanizing yourself to your kids and reminding them that we’ve all.
[00:35:45] Pretty much been through the same experience of, you know, exploration and things like that. , and that in a way I think, I mean, yeah, hope gives them permission to as well, you know, to be clsy and, , figure it out themselves. And, and when they find themselves in these situations, feel comfortable, then coming back to you as a parent or in my case, , just as an adult in their life that they feel comfortable sharing with.
[00:36:13] Bridie: [00:36:13] Yeah, absolutely. And I think you’re right to do that. Boundaries are very important when you role model them. You’re also teaching them how to politely like say no to a conversation that they don’t want to have. So they’re not ready to have for themselves, which is really, really important.
[00:36:27] Bree: [00:36:27] Absolutely. No, I think that I was trying to think about some of the, , the misconceptions around sex education and talking to our kids about these topics and one that I.
[00:36:39] Thing comes up quite frequently is this belief that if we talk to kids about these topics, it will encourage them to engage in them. So if we’re talking to kids about porn and masturbation and sex, well, then they’ll know and they’ll go do it. And so we withhold this information in hopes that they maybe just won’t find it out and then won’t do it.
[00:36:59] Do you think that’s true? No, no straight on
[00:37:02] Bridie: [00:37:02] there. I just, I don’t, it’s like, it’s like sitting there being like, , you see the cause you know that they’re driving past, we’re not going to tell you anything about them. One day you’ll drive it, but we’re very, very afraid of what’s going to happen when you do, because there’s lots of stuff that can go wrong in a car.
[00:37:20] So we’re just not going to tell you about it. Yeah. Whereas you have this opportunity to spend a very long time. Gradually teaching something that will make when they finally drive the car very safe. Yeah. And it’s, it’s really disappointing, I think, to, to have that sense of, I’m so afraid of this conversation, and I’m so uncomfortable with this conversation that I’m not going to share it with my child.
[00:37:49] I shouldn’t say disappointing cause that’s not the right word, but a loaded one. It is a very, very loaded term. , But that sense of I’m so uncomfortable with this that I, I can’t, I can’t do this. I can’t have this conversation and I feel alone in this conversation. And unsure. And there’s such, , a gravity in having that conversation when you are yourself, , unsure of how to have it, because you’re looking at your child being like, I don’t want to screw you up.
[00:38:18] Yeah. It’s coming from a good place. Yeah. Intention and so much. Of that is, I don’t want this to be something that makes you drive, like run towards it or anything like that. But studies have actually shown that kids who have good sex education, , and understanding of their own like body understanding of terms, understanding of the way that they can say no and build boundaries and all of those things are more likely to have healthier.
[00:38:43] Sexual relationships as adults, they’re like less likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors. They’re more likely to experience their first orgasm at their own hands than a strangers or someone else’s, which is a big thing for women. , They’re more likely to be able to go and get sexual health checks without freaking out.
[00:39:05] And they can label the part of the body when they go, because they know what it’s called. Yeah. So there’s so much that the education around that makes safer for adulthood because sexuality is so huge as a part of growing up and yeah. If you think about it, you’re basically like, by not normalizing that body part, your getting a child to ignore a whole part of themselves, not for the purpose of sexuality, but for sexual health.
[00:39:36] Yeah. You should be able to go to the doctor and go, this hurts. What do I do? And I feel comfortable showing it to you. I feel, I feel safe showing it to you. I feel like if you do anything, I don’t like I can say no. Yeah. Whereas, if you’re sending someone in there who doesn’t, who doesn’t know what to call it, or, , has never been able to have those conversations before or can’t reach out to, well, like
[00:39:58] Bree: [00:39:58] me, I’d just ignore it until it became unbearable.
[00:40:04] Bridie: [00:40:04] But people who have those conversations with their kids, their kids are going to go, m, I can’t. I don’t know what this is. I’m really scared. I’ve got to go to the doctor, even as an adult, I’ve taken my mom to the doctor as an adult and being like this freaks me out. I don’t want to be by myself while I go and do it.
[00:40:17] I mean,
[00:40:18] Bree: [00:40:18] you’re right. If you want to do that, that’s totally
[00:40:20] Bridie: [00:40:20] fine. Yeah. But knowing that I can ask those questions and having someone come with you and just be like, right. You know, we’re cool with using proper terms. , and you’re, you’re safe and comfortable and confident. All of those things are happening for you now.
[00:40:33] Yeah. It’s, it’s better for mental health. To have sex ed.
[00:40:38] Bree: [00:40:38] Absolutely. And again, I’m just speaking to my own experience, but when I think about how I navigated this and where I learned from it certainly wasn’t my parents, it wasn’t adults giving me information. And that doesn’t change the fact that you have these biological urges and instincts, you hit puberty, and these are things that you’re, you know, you’re actively seeking out and you’re wanting to engage in and that’s perfectly normal.
[00:40:57] So withholding information does not block that. It doesn’t change the fact that. Teenagers and us starting to develop these feelings, but without an adult to share this information from me, you know, I was getting it probably most commonly from my boyfriend who was trying to figure it out for himself.
[00:41:15] Probably got a little bit from porn and also was, you know, it’s another party that doesn’t necessarily have my emotional and sexual safety as their priority. Yeah.
[00:41:28] Bridie: [00:41:28] And they also can’t speak to a gendered experience. Yeah.
[00:41:33] Bree: [00:41:33] And that leads perfectly into my, into probably my last question. , but a big one and one that I did prepare you, uh, for, so.
[00:41:43] Recently I’m Instagram. I am following a, I guess, an influencer or a content creator who works in the, in the sex. , I’m not sure exactly what capacity and, but she was talking about out her belief that all parents, when their child, when their daughter hits puberty, should provide their kids with an age appropriate dildo.
[00:42:06] And I remember hearing this and having such a visceral reaction like. Oh, my God, that is completely inappropriate. I would be mortified if my parents did that to me, but then she wanted to explain that, you know, Hey, isn’t it better than our, our girls, our women are learning about their own bodies and exploring them on their own terms at their own pace.
[00:42:27] Before we are trusting, you know, engaging in that active those activities with men. And I was kinda like, Oh, , okay. Like she raises some good points. So I wouldn’t say I’m totally there yet, but I’m interested to hear your perspective and we’re not, we’re not advocating that everyone goes out and buys a crystal dildos for their teams, but I’m, I’m interested to hear your perspective on that.
[00:42:52] Bridie: [00:42:52] Oh, I’m on the fence. I would say I’m on the fence and for a couple of reasons, and it’s not. Not because I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of masturbation. I think that we should absolutely be advocating for female masturbation, , in early teens and adulthood and adulthood because boys stop masturbating 11 pre 11, like that’s, that’s the average age it’s getting younger and younger, particularly because we’re being exposed to so much sexual content everywhere.
[00:43:22] Whereas for girls it’s very, very different. Hmm. , and that sense of internalized shame around masturbation is still occurring. , so the idea of normalizing that and being like you, you’re 13, you know, do you, would you, would you like to masturbate, would you like to have a toy that will make it easier for you instead of being like I’m about to break a wrist or a toothbrush, , uh, and all that sort of stuff, pillow, hping, whatever else goes on.
[00:43:52] Normalizing that making it safe and then giving them the power to choose that toy might be the better way to go. Having that conversation around. Would you like a toy? Because I think the dildo lovely also implies heteronormative ideals. And it’s not to say that, you know, we just, because you’re gay, you wouldn’t be interested in it, but.
[00:44:17] You might, that, that might not be what you like. So just
[00:44:20] Bree: [00:44:20] putting the conversation back to them and saying, you know, this is something that some people use. Is it something that you’d like? Yeah.
[00:44:26] Bridie: [00:44:26] , we have clit stimulate is you’ve got like so many different types of toys that exist. And beyond that there’s websites like, Oh my God.
[00:44:34] Yes. Okay. , actually, sorry, not all my good, yes. That’s a website about articles. There’s something else. Oh, I’ll have to forward it to you. I will find it and I’ll send it to you, but there’s a website that you sign up to and it’s free. And it is just videos of women masturbating, but it’s educational. So they’ll do, they’ll have an interview with someone and they’ll be like, , this is Sarah.
[00:44:59] , what, what is it that you think about sexuality, Sarah? How do you like to do it? And then Sarah will get back and be like, so this is the way I would typically do this, not to, , They don’t masturbate to completion. They masturbate for the purpose of showing you different techniques. That’s so interesting and normalizing how it goes.
[00:45:17] And I think that,
[00:45:18] Bree: [00:45:18] you know, as a parent, I still find that so uncomfortable to think about. But again, you know, in the stone age, we have to asse that our kids. Many of them are seeking out porn. So they’re seeing this kind of explicit content. And so I guess, encouraging them to conse more appropriate, more healthy and more educational content is a very valuable thing to do.
[00:45:40] Yeah. Yeah.
[00:45:40] Bridie: [00:45:40] And having someone like when you look at porn as a general concept, Like a very brief, this
[00:45:45] Bree: [00:45:45] is a whole topic in itself.
[00:45:48] Bridie: [00:45:48] I will lead it straight back. I promise. But if you look at porn as a general topic, , even with gay sex, it is a phallic centric experience. Yes. Which
[00:45:56] Bree: [00:45:56] is penis
[00:45:58] Bridie: [00:45:58] penis. It’s a penis centric experience.
[00:46:00] If you watch it for lesbian porn, that’s performative and fell eccentric again, websites like this one that I’m going to find the name of, , Show it from an educational perspective for women. Yeah. , cisgendered or otherwise, but it is very much about teaching someone to go. This is your body. How would you like to pay attention to it?
[00:46:23] Yeah. And actually this is
[00:46:24] Bree: [00:46:24] not what the, what the conversation is about, but these are conversations. I remember having with my friends as we kind of entered into adulthood where they were talking about the fact that they were having sex and not orgasming, but they were also talking about the fact that they’d never masturbated.
[00:46:38] And I’m like, well, that makes sense. If you don’t know what you like, how are you meant to tell someone else what you like kind of thing. So. It sets us up for a really healthy adulthood as well. And then hopefully we’re kind of breaking this cycle and can then approach these topics with our kids a little bit easier.
[00:46:53] Bridie: [00:46:53] , I mean, exactly what you’re saying right now, when you talk about that, that age group from like 13 to 17, particularly with women and they haven’t masturbated. Their first sexual experience is going to be at the hands of usually a male Patino. Yeah. Which is
[00:47:08] Bree: [00:47:08] slightly terrifying
[00:47:09] Bridie: [00:47:09] to think about. And those male partners, like you’ve pointed out earlier on, on don’t have the emotional, psychological wellbeing necessary.
[00:47:17] Yeah. And that doesn’t mean they’re trying to
[00:47:18] Bree: [00:47:18] harm us, but nowhere often, but they don’t know. Yeah. And I’m and two teenagers trying to figure
[00:47:22] Bridie: [00:47:22] it out. You just fble around in the desk for the best, but it’s very much about, yeah. That education, I think from a really young age, from the beginning,
[00:47:33] Bree: [00:47:33] Beautiful.
[00:47:33] Well, I think we can wrap up there. We’ve we’ve covered a breadth on this topic and it’s been super fun. So thank you so much. And we will definitely include that link in the episode notes when you figure it out. , so thank you. Thanks for
[00:47:45] Bridie: [00:47:45] having me.
[00:47:49] Bree: [00:47:49] Thanks for joining us
[00:47:50] Bridie: [00:47:50] for today’s conversation. If you want to hear more like this, don’t forget to hit subscribe. So you don’t miss an episode. If you’d like to know more about anything we talked about or you heard on the podcast today, check out our website, http://www.birthofthemother.com. You can find us on Instagram at Matrescence dot podcast, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
[00:48:12] Bree: [00:48:12] today.
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Kelly and Bree