I have a couple secret talents and one of them is relating to youth. Maybe this means I am seriously unsophisticated and juvenile. Maybe it means that I really know how to talk with young people. I would like to think that my ability to relate and build strong connections with young adults is due to a combination of the above factors.
There are a few people who have made a living travelling the country teaching other adults how to talk with "kids" about sex. I think this topic is great and more people could use a workshop on this topic then not, but I have one main objection. People who are masters at building relationships with youth almost NEVER refer to them as kids! People who work with a younger demographic will often refer to them as youth, young adults, or even juveniles. Almost no one who makes a living dealing with young people refer to them as kids. Kids is a term that is usually only suitable for parents who are referring to their children.
Think I'm full of it? Next time you see a bunch of youth, I double dog dare you to go up to them and cheerfully say "..Hey kids, what's up?!" I suspect that you will probably get a bunch of stares that are most likely filled with loathing from a bunch of very unhappy youth. Let me try to explain it to you this way...you know how annoying it is when young people refer to you as "ma'am" or "sir"? That is almost exactly how young adults feel when you call them kids.
When I get called "ma'am" I want to shake the person proclaiming that they can call my mom "ma'am" and that I am NOT that old (even if I am, so what, I'm trying to make a point here)! When I get called ma'am I wonder how old I look, how old do they THINK I am, and I usually correct them and say that although they may mean well, I generally don't respond well to that word. In other words, I tend to give people a second or third chance to redeem themself by attempting to set them on the right track...something most youth simply will not do.
Still think that I am making a big broo ha ha over nothing? Think back to your younger days. Remember feeling like you didn't belong, weren't always understood, and often taken for granted or, alternatively, never taken seriously?
Now imagine that you are 12 or 13 or 14 years old and want to ask an adult about something relating to sex or sexuality. There are probably a few things you would least like to hear, right? I'm guessing things on your list that you don't want to hear are:
- Anything relating to abstinence
- The adult becoming so flustered that they don't know how to react to your query
- Telling you that you are too young to have to worry about this
- Telling you to wait until your father or mother gets home to ask the question
- Asking you if someone has touched you inappropriately
- Having the adult pretend like they didn't hear your question
If you truly want to become an ally for young people you have to be an askable adult! What does that mean? Well, sometimes it means having conversations about sex and sexuality on their timeline and not yours. Sometimes it means answering questions you would prefer not to. Sometimes it means that you have to be a really good listener so you can figure out what question they are asking you. And sometimes it means having to acknowledge that your child is, indeed, a sexual creature.
Like it or not, parents are the primary sex educators for their children! I am friends with plenty of youth whose parents are just as old as me, and in some instances they are younger. What I know for a fact is that they do not or have not felt like their parents are askable adults. Maybe it is much easier for me to be an askable adult because I'm not their parent. What I do know is that there is no greater feeling then a young adult taking me aside and telling me with wholehearted sincerity that they are thankful I am in their life and are able to openly talk with me about sex and sexuality.
She is also the organizer of the monthly meetup.com group called "Flirting, Dating, and Sex Oh My!" She has several workshops scheduled in the upcoming weeks, and would love to meet you in person! You can also find her on twitter @catcoaches, facebook, and yelp.
Contact her to arrange your FREE 20 minute consultation.