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Category Archives: The Birds + The Bees

Talking to Boys about Sexually Aggressive Girls

Written by our Guest: Jennifer L. W. Fink of Building Boys.net

I think I pressured a boy into having sex with me. 

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-1-56-56-pmI was 16 at the time. So was he. It was our first date — and my first date, ever — after weeks and months of talking in study hall and passing notes. We went to see a movie (Twins, with Arnold Schwarzenegger). He drove. He brought me home. He parked in my driveway and we kissed with the bright glare of the garage light shining in through the front window.

I didn’t say no, ever. I kissed back and I responded to every single thing he did and I lost my virginity right there, in the front seat of his car, despite the safe sex ad that had emanated from his radio.

A few days later, he passed me a note in the hallway: What happened should have never happened. There was more, but that’s the phrase that’s stuck in my head, even now, 30-some years later.

I was livid. What I thought was the beginning of a relationship was the end. I never spoke to the boy again. And for years, I was angry at him.

Then I had boys.

I started paying attention to the messages, overt and otherwise, that our society sends boys about sex.

And I realized this: The boy probably felt like he couldn’t stop. I mean, there he was, in a car, with a girl who wasn’t saying no. According to practically every message he’d probably ever received, he was obligated to go forward. I mean, c’mon. What kind of guy STOPS or SAYS NO if the girl is willing?

Boys Feel Pressured to Have Sex

Believe it or not, teen boys can be pressured into unwanted sexual situations — and unwanted sexual activity hurts boys every bit as much as it hurts girls.

A study published in 2014 found that 43 percent of high school boys and young college men had had an unwanted sexual experience and of those, 95 percent said a female acquaintance was the aggressor. According to one of the researchers, ” ‘unwanted seduction’ of young men by women is largely overlooked in existing academic research…[but is] a particularly pervasive form of sexual coercion in this study, as well as peer pressure and a victim’s own sense of an obligation.”

Translation: Boys are having sex because they feel pressure from girls, from their friends and from themselves. 

I want to tell you that I didn’t come on to the boy in the car. I think I could tell you that. But another part of me thinks that I may have been the one to reach over and unzip his pants — not really because I wanted to have sex, but because I felt like that’s what was expected; because that seemed to be the next step. Of course, I didn’t tell him that. If that is indeed what I did — if I reached over and unzipped his pants — how could he not interpret that as anything other than a come-on? As pressure to perform?

Thirty-one percent of the boys in the research study said “they were verbally coerced [and] 26 percent described unwanted seduction by sexual behaviors.”

That figure should give anyone pause: nearly 1/3 of surveyed boys reported being the subject of unwanted sexual seduction. 

I’m going to guess the real number might actually be higher.

Boys aren’t always keen on admitting that they’ve been the subject of unwanted sexual attention. How can they be, in a society that essentially tells them they should want (and welcome!) sex – all the time?

Helping Boys Say No (and Save Face)

Unfortunately, sexually aggressive behavior has become increasingly common in our society. One of the researchers involved in the study commented, “I really do believe that girls are more aggressive sexually today than they were ten years ago,” and I have no reason to doubt her. I’ve heard similar comments from educators, school administrators and parents.

The reality is that today’s boys are likely to find themselves the object of strong sexual attention. Some boys will welcome this attention. Some will not. Our job is to help boys learn how to handle this attention.

Step 1: Let boys know it’s OK to say no. Our boys are growing up in a culture that encourages sex. In many corners, having sex is associated with masculinity: If you have sex with women, you’re a man. If you don’t  — especially if the offer is presented to you! — you are definitely less than a man.

Our boys need to know it’s OK to say no. Our children are not getting nuanced messages from pop culture, so they need to hear nuanced messages at home. Kids need to hear that sex is a way for people to show their love — but they also need to hear that it’s possible to love someone without having sex. They need to know that even two people who love each other sometimes choose not to have sex because one person is tired or just doesn’t feel like it.

Our boys need to know that their feelings matter too. We, as a society, spend so much time talking to our boys about girls’ right to consent that sometimes we forget to mention that their feelings matter too. We need to let our boys know that not wanting to is a perfectly OK reason to turn down sexual activity. We need to let our boys know that NO is always a perfectly acceptable answer, no matter what the reason.

Step 2: Talk about reasons to have sex. We spend a lot of time telling our kids why not to have sex. That’s important information that definitely should be part of the larger conversation of sex and sexual health. I’d argue, though, that we also need to talk about good reasons to have sex. Good reasons to have sex include being in a committed relationship, when both parties agree that they want to have sex. Good reasons do not include because she wanted to or because my friend did or everyone will laugh at me if they find out I said no.

Step 3: Talk about sexual aggression and pressure. Boys need to know what sexual aggression is before they can respond appropriately. Talk about the difference between flirting and sexual aggression. Point out examples on TV and in movies and videos.  Reality shows, prime-time TV shows, and music videos include all kinds of examples of sexual aggression. Comment on those scenes. Ask your boys what they think. Ask about the girls they know — do the girls ever come on strong? How do the boys react? How do they feel?

Step 4: Intro white lies. In general, I believe in honesty. But my kids also know that I’m perfectly OK with lies that help them make good choices and save face. They know, for instance, that they can blame me for anything their friends want to do that they don’t want to do. (Invited to party where there’s drinking? It’s perfectly OK to say, “My mom won’t let me out that night!”)

Give boys some “outs” they can use in case of unwanted sexual attention. It’s OK to say, “I don’t want to” — but it’s also OK to say, “I gotta go now. My dad will go crazy if I’m not home in 10 minutes” or “I gotta keep my strength up for the game.” Help the boys in your life brainstorm some possible responses now, because it’s a lot easier to think straight when you’re not in a sexual situation.

Over 30 years later, I realize that the boy in the car with me was just as confused as I was. Neither one of us knew what we were doing. We probably both would have been happier if we’d simply watched the movie together; in hindsight, I don’t think either one of us really wanted to have sex. But we did, and it took me nearly 30 years to let go of the resulting anger and hurt and confusion.

I don’t want my sons — or anyone — to have sex because they feel like that’s what’s expected of them. I want them to know it’s OK to say no.


Educating yourself is your best defense!

Bundle #2 “He’s Growing Up – Quickly” includes more interviews on “the Birds and the Bees” and how to talk with your son about healthy sex – at any age.

CLICK HERE for podcast interview bundles with renowned experts on this topic and more:

Boys and Porn

He will see porn – sooner than you can imagine.

You won’t be ready for him to see it – and he won’t be ready either!

AND you can’t unsee it once you have seen it…

 

On average, in America, he’ll see porn for the first time by the age of 9.

Sometimes even younger…like the mom who is outraged with Amazon because her 6 year old boy typed “realistic” into their search box – he was looking for a Batman cake topper. What he saw was not at all related, and was more realistic than any of us would like to think!

Unfortunately, just like this boy, as kids become more at ease in the on-line world, the average age will keep getting lower – and the chances for accidentally seeing something inappropriate keep getting higher.

Did you ever put him in the car without making sure his seatbelt was fastened?

His physical safety is a priority for you, always.

Now, with the prevalence of porn, you may be jeopardizing his physical, emotional, AND intellectual safety:

  • If you haven’t talked with him early about body parts and healthy sexuality.
  • If you haven’t talked with him about what adults do in a loving relationship.
  • If you haven’t talked with him about his growing, developing body.
  • If you haven’t talked with him about girls and their growing, developing bodies.

You might as well put him in a race car – unbuckled.

At the point when he sees porn, his lack of safety will be your responsibility – and perhaps your guilt, because HE WILL SEE IT

  • It may be as a surprise image popping onto his ipad screen.
  • It may be a friend or older brother showing off what he’s found – and he’ll have to go along to “save face” because you haven’t taught him refusal skills.
  • He may have innocently googled a word that’s led him to “a cornucopia…of stuff.”
  • And if he hasn’t actually seen porn yet, he’s heard about it, guaranteed.

And even if he hasn’t seen pornography as we think of it – do you think he isn’t noticing the latest Ralph Lauren commercial?

And even if he hasn’t seen pornography as we think of it – if he plays video games, he’s already been over-exposed to unrealistic images of bodies and the treatment of women.

Do your own research: note how often women’s bottoms are shown in his video game of choice. As Damon Beres writes in The Huffington Post, “Games often emphasize the rumps of female characters while male characters have their posteriors hidden.” (This may seem harmless. You may think, “Oh, he’s so young, he won’t notice.” Problem is – it begins to foster a culture of unrealistic expectations and views of women.)

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But I digress.  Back to PORN:

Current statistics are:

  • 92% of boys are exposed to porn on-line
  • 62% of girls are exposed to porn on-line

What are you doing right now to protect them?

Remember, the images he sees are not your father’s Penthouse or Playboy magazines.

The images he sees and hears will be in living color and very, very realistic.

He may be shocked AND he may also be very curious.

Most of all, he can’t ‘unsee’ what he’s already seen.

SO, what are you doing RIGHT NOW to keep him safe and prepare him BEFORE he sees any inappropriate images?

As Amy Lang of Birds and Bees and Kids, advises, you begin by having conversations – many conversations.

They will be short, awkward, and embarrassing — and even more so, the older your boy gets.

But just like you’d jump in front of a train to save your child, you’ve got to jump into these complex and awkward conversations – and be prepared to jump into them over and over again!

Amy says you must convey to them early and often: ”Sex is for adults, not for children. Just like alcohol and coffee.”

Is porn harmful?

Yes, to our kids it is.

As an adult, you can make your own educated choices.

It is up to us to communicate to our children that pornography conveys an unrealistic view of a healthy sexual relationship between two loving adults.

Among other things, porn conveys unrealistic views and expectations about:

  • Violence
  • Racial stereotypes
  • Body types
  • Women – disrespect, mistreatment
  • Sexual actions
  • Relationships between men&men; men&women; women&women

Above all, it can be highly addictive.

In the New Zealand Herald, ‘Nick’ tells his story of watching porn when he got his first laptop at age 15 and was soon watching it for up to two hours a day.

He said, “It quickly escalated and it was every day. What I was watching, it definitely got more extreme over a short period of time. There was nothing that would give me a kick. Normal stuff didn’t do anything anymore, so I had to get more and more extreme material. It was disturbing stuff that disturbed me.”

He went on to say that he had trouble being attracted to females as his sexuality was “completely wired towards porn.” Only after undergoing a 100-day porn-fast was he able to return to normal sexual relationships.

Let that serve as “worst-case” scenario for you.

What do you do now?

You fasten their safety belts!

You put on your mama-bear-armor and your papa-bear-armor and you make it a priority to install parental controls and monitoring software on ALL devices.

You make sure his friend’s parent’s have done the same.

You educate yourself, you practice the conversations, and – above all, you remain calm, cool, and collected when he tells you about what he saw on his friend’s iphone the other day…


Educating yourself is your best defense!

Bundle #2 “He’s Growing Up – Quickly” includes the interviews, “The Birds & the Bees – How to Talk with Him about Sex and Healthy Sexuality” and “More Birds & Bees – How to Talk with Him about Pornography”

CLICK HERE for podcast interview bundles with renowned experts on this topic and more:


 

Boy Talk #4: How to Talk about “Those” Dreams



Janet here:  We’re continuing our monthly theme of taking the plunge into “the talk” – which will become many talks from the time your boy is young, hopefully… and we’re launching into what might be another ‘awkward’ conversation between you and your boy.
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Amy Lang of Birds + Bees + Kids is our s-expert and she insists that we start ALL the conversations early and stay engaged in them as our boys mature.  Her son, who is mortified by her work, insists he has ‘no questions and will NEVER ask her about sex’ yet she’s still able to engage with him when they are not making eye contact, and (hint, hint) – when they are doing something active like walking or tossing a ball.

While many conversations may naturally happen between dad and son, Mom, YOU, are a key player in helping son develop a healthy, safe attitude towards sex and relationships.  As your son develops his own values around sex and relationships, he will always be taking your point of view into account – as long as he knows what your point of view is!

I’ll let Amy take it from here:

Although he may already have been having frequent erections, when a boy enters puberty he may experience “nocturnal emissions” or “wet dreams” as a normal part of becoming a man. Not every boy experiences this but most do.  The sooner you fill him in, the more likely he won’t think he wet the bed if it happens.

Let him know by age 10 or so.

I find this a perfect time to teach your son to do his own laundry.  It will help him protect his privacy about this particular event. And, well, no ulterior motives here! 🙂

What to say:
Amy told us on BOY TALK that its helpful to give your son a heads-up that you’re going to talk about something that has to do with his developing body and sex. Give him a chance to get used to the idea and then follow-up – it may be a day or so later – but make sure to circle back to it.”

Try something similar to this dialogue:
“Sometimes, after puberty starts, your body is changing into a man’s body, and so you can have something called a “wet dream” or “nocturnal emission.” This is when you have an erection and ejaculate when you are dreaming.

These dreams are completely normal yet it doesn’t happen to everyone. Sometimes boys think they wet their bed. It is your body practicing for when it’s time to have sex.

This is why it’s important for you to learn how to do your own laundry so you can wash your sheets if you are feeling a little shy or private about having a wet dream.”

Janet here again:
Reassurance is key.

Remind him that his body is preparing to be an adult.

Explaining the technical aspects is important: “You are starting to produce semen and it builds up in your body. One way that semen gets released is during a “wet dream.” It’s perfectly normal! And, isn’t your body so cool that it knows just exactly how to work?!”

A gentle reminder about hygiene now doesn’t hurt either.

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

Download the entire BOY TALK interview with Amy and Janet here.

Save your seat for future BOY TALKS here.

You can find Amy here: Birds+Bees+Kids

Boy Talk #4: Your 10-year-old is developing normally!



…and his body is developing normally, too!
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Guest post by Amy Lang

Think back for a moment.

Remember when you were a young adolescent and had crushes, urges, surges and strong feelings of desire?
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What did you think when this was going on?

Did you even know what was going on?

Understanding how their bodies work can go a long way to helping tweens and teens navigate their relationships.

Even those relationships that are mostly in their heads.

You probably recall how fun and titillating your crush relationships were. They were also confusing. And let’s not even get started on those early romances – yikes! So many emotions, thoughts, and physical feelings are experienced that it can be really overwhelming to navigate.

What’s a parent to do, given all of this?

One place to start is to explain to your kids, sooner, rather than later, that they will someday, most likely, experience a feeling in their body that is called “desire” or “sexual desire.” And can start as young as ten – for some boys, they will get an erection – (he may call it a “boner.”)

Girls get them too, they are just teeny-tiny.

It feels like a strong wave or urge and it can feel good!
And overwhelming and maybe even confusing.

Let your kids know that this is normal and it’s happening because the hormones in their body are doing the work of getting them ready for adulthood and sex.

The next step is to provide them with some ideas of things they can do, other than actually have sex, to help them manage these feelings.

You can suggest things like exercise, writing in a journal, or masturbating. If they are in a relationship, make sure they understand that it’s harder to say no when they are hot and heavy in the moment. They’ll need to think about how they can slow things down or get out of the moment if they aren’t ready for sex just yet.

Talking about sexual desire is just one place to start. This can be a stepping off point to discussing pressure, respect, responsibility and dating rules.

You can purchase Janet and Amy’s BOY TALK conversation here. And save your seat for future BOY TALKS here.

Find Amy at Birds + Bees + Kids here.

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

Boy Talk #4: Are You Ready for “The Talk?”

Yep, “The Sex Talk.” That one.
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For many parents, the “talk” can be intimidating, uncomfortable, and downright scary…so, we avoid it and hope for the best! (I know I did some of that when raising my girls.) I also knew that I didn’t want their friends to be the ‘bringers of knowledge’ like I had when growing up. So, embarrassing or not, I knew I had to get comfortable with “THE TALK.”

But the thing is – THE TALK isn’t just ONE talk.

It starts young, it continues, and … well, it just gets more interesting as time goes on. I am so excited to introduce you to Amy Lang. She’s got this! And she’s got your back! She will help you get comfortable.

>>NOTE: You may, initially, be uncomfortable with some of the things we are going to talk about this month (in Thursday blogs and on BOY TALK) – I encourage you to hang in there, stretch, and be open to a new way of talking about the ‘birds and the bees.'<<
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Amy Lang is on a mission to help kids grow up to be whole, healthy and happy adults.
Amy says, “If you rely on strangers and peers to teach your kids about sexuality they lose out on learning from the person they most want and need to hear from – YOU!

Worse yet, they don’t the information you want them to have about your values and other related topics like love and healthy relationships.

When you know HOW to have the sex talk with your kids – you’ll likely lead into talking about many other parts of their lives, too. The birds and the bees can be touchy to talk about – but with a little information, some careful thought and planning – it really is possible to have comfortable, effective talks with your kids!

These talks – they happen many times and they start when your kids are little – are KEY to raising safe, healthy, happy, and well-adjusted kids.

She helps parents of preschoolers to high-schoolers.
She hosts talks on all ages and topics and will help you really dig into exactly what your kids should know at each age, develop scripts, explore your values and practice having these all-important conversations.

Amy guarantees you will be fully prepared to start and continue the sex talks with your kids! She offers:
• A workshop specifically tailored to the ages of your kids
• Detailed explanation of what kids should know by when
• Tons of time to get just what you need
• Develop your own scripts for talking to your kids
• Practice, so you know what to expect
• Clarification of your core sexual values so you can easily share them with your kids
• Confidence, confidence, confidence!

Workshops are two hours long and can be specifically tailored to suit the age of your kids or a specific topic, including sexual abuse prevention, puberty, or the “sexy little girl syndrome.” Just ask Amy!

More to Learn:
Kids are exposed to more sexual information at earlier and earlier ages than ever before and this is impacting their behavior, development and safety.

It is imperative that parents, educators, care providers, and social service agents understand what is appropriate and what isn’t – and when to worry:
• Children engaging in body exploration play like “playing doctor.”
• Girls who booty dance, twerk or otherwise move their bodies in an adult-like way.
• Boys who use crass, explicit language or gestures.
• Children wearing “sexy” or otherwise inappropriate clothing.
• Children who use sexually explicit language or discuss sexual topics that are beyond their years.
• Children who are “gender bending” and show interest in becoming or behaving like their opposite gender.
• Parents who think these behaviors are “cute”, over- or under-react.

Amy trains educators and other care providers in these areas:
The growing problem of over-sexualized childhood is becoming unavoidable and it affects every child, parent, and anyone who works with children. You and your staff can learn the skills and information you need to keep the kids in your care healthy and safe:
• A practical, behavioral checklist that makes it easy to assess a child’s behavior plus other tips for keeping kids safe.
• Why informed children are empowered children and how this information can reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse.
• How anyone can have an appropriate and non-shaming conversation with a child about “playing doctor,” private parts and the birds and the bees.
• Scripts for talking to children and their worried parents.
• Why this information will keep you and your staff safer from unjust accusations.

Amy is a wealth of knowledge and brings it in a way that is playful and comfortable. Find her at birdsandbeesandkids.com and be sure to save your seat for my interview with Amy on BOY TALK – October 21, 2015. Save your seat here.

Click here for your Boys Alive! Free Report: “6 Keys to Parenting Success”

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