How To Have Healthy Talks About Sex and Intimacy in A Confusing Culture with Dina Alexander

Welcome, friend, to the show today.

Welcome to today’s episode of How To Have Healthy Talks About Sex and Intimacy in A Confusing Culture. 

When it comes to sex, our bodies, love, and intimacy, our kids are bombarded with false, unhealthy, and confusing messages. 

How do we talk to our kids about what healthy relationships, sex and intimacy look like?

My special guest today is Dina Alexander, here to help us navigate this challenging landscape and empower our children with the knowledge they need for healthy, positive, and wonderful intimate relationships.

Dina is the author of “30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 8-11: Empowering Your Child” and “30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 12+: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy.” She is also the founder and CEO of Educate and Empower Kids, an organization dedicated to strengthening families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including the critical topic of online pornography.

In today’s episode, Dina will provide parents with the tools and insights necessary to have these sometimes uncomfortable but essential discussions with our tweens and teens. We’ll explore how to foster relationships built on mutual respect and kindness and address the realities shaping our and our children’s sex lives.

Let’s dive in!

Dina is also the founder and CEO of Educate and Empower Kids, an organization dedicated to strengthening families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn.

What You Will Learn: 

  • Why are we so uncomfortable talking to our kids about sex?
  • How has sex changed since we were kids?
  • What are the potential consequences of avoiding these conversations?
  • How can we begin to talk to our kids about the difference between porn and healthy sex and relationships? 
  • What can parents do if they find out their kids are watching porn?
  • What are some common challenges or misconceptions we face as parents when addressing the topic of healthy sexuality?
  • Guidance on how we should initiate conversations about healthy sexuality with our kids.
  • Recommended resources or books for parents to help them better understand and address the topic of healthy sexuality with their children.

Where to find Dina:

Find more encouragement, wisdom, and resources:

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And here is the episode typed out!

Welcome to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. If some days you doubt yourself and don’t know what you’re doing. If you’ve ugly cried alone in your bedroom because you felt like you were failing. Well, I just want to let you know you are not alone, and you have come to the right place.

Raising tweens and teens in today’s world is not easy. And I’m on a mission to equip you to love well and to raise emotionally healthy, happy tweens and teens that thrive.

I believe that moms are heroes, and we have the power to transform our families and impact future generations. If you are looking for answers, encouragement, and becoming more of the mom and the woman that you want to be, welcome. I am Sheryl Gould. And I am so glad that you’re here.

SHERYL:    Well, welcome Dina to the Moms of Tweens and Teens Podcast. I am so excited to talk to you today.

DINA:  Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

SHERYL:  Well, you have written quite a few books on sex. And I’m just gonna list just a few of the books you’ve written for 30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages Three to Seven, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy. Thirty Days of Sex Talks for Ages Eight to 11. You also have one for 12 and up; you also have another book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography. 

So, we are going to be talking all about sex today and how to talk to our kids. So I am excited and scared and uncomfortable. We need to talk about these things. I just want to launch it, and I’m curious how you got into this.

DINA:    That’s a great question. Many people in the same movement and doing this usually have issues in their lives, and they’ve had spouses with problems or whatever. But for me, it was a little different. 

It was just one day; we had just moved, and I was kind of deciding what I wanted to do next in my life. All of my kids were in school; I was a stay-at-home mom. And I read this article on Facebook about teen porn. And I could not believe it. I was sitting there, feeling no, no, this can’t be right.

So, I started researching and trying to figure out what was happening. And it led me to realize, Oh my gosh, okay, because I had never watched online pornography, I had never seen it. I had seen magazines growing up at a bookstore, whatever. And I was floored. 

I saw how misogynistic it was, I saw the violence, and I saw the false counterfeit sex they were showing and realized how many kids were watching it. And I thought to myself, Okay, I gotta do something about this. And it was like a fire inside me. 

I thought I got to talk to as many parents as possible about this topic. So I started talking to friends and family members, even at the gym, asking the people next to me. Have you heard about this? Do you notice? And I realized a couple of things. First, I realized many parents had no idea what their kids were looking at.

Everybody had the not my child viewpoint. And then I also realized they were scared to even talk about sex because I had thought, how am I going to get parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of online porn if they’re not even willing to talk about sex. 

That was the first book we did in the 30 Days of Sex Talk Series. We put out a new second edition last year in late 2023. That’s the one you mentioned. 

And then a couple of years later, we were again, Okay, it’s time to kick it up a notch. We want parents to feel comfortable diving in. So, we wrote how to talk to your kids about pornography. We’ve written some other books, like 30 Days to a Stronger Child, and some children’s books on healthy body image and using technology for good and understanding media. 

Because there’s so much in the wallpaper of our lives that is talking and teaching our kids different things, and most of when it comes to sex and our bodies and love and intimacy, it’s mostly false or unhealthy messages out there. And so we want to help parents empower their kids with healthy knowledge about the positive, wonderful parts of intimacy, but the realities that are out there that are shaping our sex lives and our kid’s sex lives.

SHERYL:  They are inundated today with all different kinds of messages. 

DINA:    For real. I would ask your audience to think about how your kids are. You were exposed to even 10% of what your kids are exposed to weekly or monthly. They are exposed to probably 1,000% more hypersexualized media than we are. 

You had to seek it out. There was innuendo, but there was not the in-your-face. Stuff that is all around them. Whether it’s on the playground, from billboards, walking in the mall, or at the checkout counter while they do their homework and come upon something innocently. It’s just so much more than you were. I was forever exposed. 

SHERYL:   Yeah. And what do you think are some of the messages they’re getting from being inundated with so many different messages? Can you think of what you see in the top five? 

DINA:    I would say the top five. So there’s a lot. So, one of the big things about it is that relationships are optional. They’re unimportant; they’re a joke or a punch line in even some of the most fun comedies; oh, let’s make Dad look like an idiot. And Mom is always trying to pull one over on Dad. 

So right there, we have these unhealthy relationships where we think that relationships are optional. Another message that our kids are getting is my needs come first. 

So, that is probably the biggest message, say, in pornography, right? My needs, my sexual needs, above anybody else’s; it’s all about my pleasure. You’re just a decorative object for me to act out on. 

And it’s typically the woman’s right who’s being acted out on. But there are other messages, that’s another one, I feel like there’s a lot of messages teaching our kids to pit themselves against each other, men versus women, not, let’s do this together, whether that’s working together, whether that’s having a healthy relationship, or let’s have sex together. 

It’s not about mutual respect and kindness. Again, that is optional. And that, to me, is an extremely unhealthy, unrealistic message, right? So we have these messages; we also, of course, have all the body image messages: you’re never going to be good enough, beautiful enough, or hot enough. 

So you need to buy this product, look this way, have this hair and makeup, and fit into this tiny mold. Otherwise, you’re not desirable or attractive, which leads to many other messages and problems. 

But I would say those are probably the hugest ones because they’re so big. They have threaded their waves into the fabric of our lives, these negative messages about our bodies, genders, and relationships, because they’re harmful. They’re the things that are pulling our culture apart, of just not having kindness and love for each other. It’s ridiculously damaging to all individuals, couples, and a culture.

SHERYL:   So it’s just so important that we have these conversations with our kids to sort through all the messages they’re receiving.

DINA:    Absolutely.

SHERYL:   I’m curious; I just don’t have this to ask you. But I was at a wedding. It was interesting because a conversation arose around teenagers, college kids, and kids in their 20s not dating. And yes, having the relationship. So, I thought it interesting that you said relationships are optional. And I also know that we live in a big hookup culture now. 

DINA:    Definitely.

SHERYL:   Do you find that that’s true that they are not that they’re not dating as much?

DINA:    There’s not as much dating. And dating has changed. So what I am seeing, and I saw that this has been happening for years, right when my daughter was first, we had a rule about no dating until 16. In our family, and what I noticed, this was the first clue that led me to research. 

I saw that the relationship was happening here on our phones, right? And I remember telling my daughter; you’re not going to have a texting relationship with this boy; you are going to have conversations; you need to talk to each other on the phone. 

You know what I was not saying? This was going to be some sort of huge, long-lasting commitment. But I wanted my daughter to learn how to talk to the opposite sex to have a relationship, that that was part of the whole point of dating is practice, right? 

We kind of forget to teach our kids a lot of things about dating, but particularly that this is about practice, that it’s not the point of dating is not to get to sex, that can in a committed relationship or whatever your values are on that. 

That’s one part, but that’s not the point of dating. It’s not to get to sex. It is to learn how to behave and have a good time. It’s to learn what you like and what you don’t like. And so we had some discussions about that. 

And I remember I gave her this little book of questions after a couple of weeks. You asked things like, oh, what would you do with a million dollars? Or what’s the best thing you know about what’s happened to you this school year? 

These were not deep questions, but it was to get them talking. After a couple of weeks, she came to me and said, Mom. I’m so glad you said that to me; this is awesome. I am having so much fun, and I am learning so much. 

Because of that, my daughter taught four boys throughout high school how to talk and behave on a date. She would talk to me about that because I don’t spend most of this dating on my phone. 

I’ve heard from many parents about where these kids will text each other or Snapchat. They’ll snap at each other just pictures, right? They will not even have conversation pictures for weeks, and then they’ll have a date, right? 

At that point, they think they are in a full-blown relationship. And you and I might be like, what are you talking about? That is how the culture and their thoughts and brains have shifted, and a full-blown relationship can happen 90% through the phone.

So that is a huge shift. And I think we as parents need to be aware of it not just for our high school kids but even our college kids who are dating and helping them realize and understand that there’s so much more to this that can be and that they’re missing out. 

So that’s a huge factor that we, as parents, need to prepare our kids to date and have some different conversations about etiquette and how to behave on a date; you’d be surprised at what they’re missing, things that we think are natural, normal, and that every kid knows because we knew it. 

Just from conversations in high school, even if we didn’t date that much. I did not date that much in high school, but I knew how to behave on a date because I went out with friends and groups and this and that. So I remember having a friend who they were so proud that their child wasn’t dating very much. 

And to me, this was a red flag. I’m like, that’s because your child plays video games at home. Or your daughter is scrolling through social media. How is that healthier than going on dates? I’ve always really encouraged that, right? 

I’ve encouraged group dating. I don’t think single dating is good for high schoolers. I had to learn from that mistake in my own right. Something else we don’t want to face is that our kids are immature. 

I mean, breaking up with somebody is hard and painful. And our kids are facing so much pain already. We want to encourage them again to practice having that socialization, but we don’t want to be like, yeah, get a boyfriend. They’re just not ready, which is much more painful.

SHERYL:   Wow, so many of your comments were good. I have not heard people talk about this when it comes to dating like the end goal is not to lead up to sex. And I think the scary thing when your kid starts dating in high school is that I’m just glad they’re not dating because if they were dating, that would happen. 

They’re gonna end up having sex, so I’m just glad to keep them at home by saying first that this is an opportunity like your daughter was expressing to you, an opportunity to get to know what I like in someone. What don’t I like? How do I have a meaningful conversation to discover who this person is? And what I what I want in the future in a mate, you know what, what does that look like

DINA:    And that is a skill set because, again, even dating is a skill set, just like we taught our kids how to tie their shoes. You know we did these things potty training, right? We were so on top of these things, including how to read and write. 

Regarding relationships, we don’t train the things that are the longest-lasting, the most meaningful, and the most important. As you said, I have tried to be the house where the other kids want to come over and hang out when this is an opportunity. We’re vacant. That is where they talk and interact.

Where they are laughing together, they’re not, hopefully, just okay. They have friends over, and they all just sit on their phones. We were kind of unpopular even though we had a nice house for my daughter at the time. 

They would not give the Wi-Fi password. Out to the kids. Right? And they would give us this look like your Mom is that kind of Mom? And I’d be like, that’s right. I am that kind of Mom; I would like you guys to interact with each other and talk to each other. And they would. 

And then they would have an amazing time, right? They would have fun together. But teaching your kids, whether that’s at the dinner table or well, how should we behave on a date? What do you want on the date? What do you want in a boyfriend or girlfriend? What do you want, in love in a relationship and a husband and a wife? 

Those are sex talks; those are part of the sex talks. People think, Oh, it’s dating. That is part of this whole thing of you preparing your child and your teenager to eventually have great relationships and a great sex life.

SHERYL:   And that’s what I love about your books: you use the word intimacy to have this. It is about intimacy. This is about having a healthy relationship. This is about having great sex.

DINA:    Absolutely, yeah. I want my children when they are- I have one married, and one is still in high school, right? I want them to have a great sex life someday, so I’m preparing them young to love themselves, to have respect for themselves, to have respect for other people, and to build healthy relationships. 

I want that as much as I want them to have good careers. I want them to have great relationships, love, and the best things in life. Right? 

SHERYL:   Well, and I love how you were talking about having those side discussions at the dinner table about what a healthy relationship looks like, and that’s sex talk. And we don’t think of that; that helps me because that is connected to having healthy relationships and eventually having sex, right? Our kids are getting it all backward. So, let’s jump into how we talk to them about sex. Where do we start? 

DINA:    So, if you have younger kids, I think it’s simpler. Now, many parents may feel like they’ve waited too long. That’s okay. It is never too early or too late to talk about sharing your values, cultural background, and experience of dating and relationships. 

With younger kids, you’re gonna start real basic; you want to talk about liking yourself, you want to talk about my body belongs to me, I might share my toys, but I’m not going to share my body. 

I want my kids to know how amazing their bodies are, not for how they look, but for what they can do. And that they are so special and amazing. They’re worth protecting. Right, and I will do my best as a parent to help protect them; I want them to know they can trust me and that I love them more than anything else. And I’m going to do everything I can to protect them. 

So that’s a good building block right there that is sex talk, loving, and caring for your body. And knowing that it’s special and amazing, right? So, with younger kids, it’s just real basic information. Parents always freak out about, okay; when do we talk about penis and vagina, right? Do you want to talk about anatomy and get your kids comfortable? 

That’s getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, right? But we want our kids to know every part of their body. There’s nothing wrong with your daughter knowing all the parts, right? I always ask women how long. 

When was it that you found out that your vagina was different than your urethra? 

And everyone laughs because it’s usually later than it should have been for most of us, right? Why was it not until 10 or 11 or whenever that we knew that it should have been at age three and four that we understood there are different parts that I have an anus, where my poop comes out that I have a urethra, where my pee comes out, but I have a vagina. 

Right that those are good, wonderful parts. Just like my elbow. I know what my elbow is; I can know what my vagina is. So, keep it calm. The most important thing about this is that I won’t create an event in having this conversation. 

This is a daily conversation to think about: When do you have time when they see your child open up? Is it at the dinner table? Is it when you’re laying them down for bed and reading a story, and maybe you get in bed and lay with them, and they chat with you during those times? Is it in the car driving there and figuring that out? 

And then you want to have those because we need our kids. This is the most important thing. We need them to recreate that conversation when they have a question, have heard something, or, heaven forbid if something has happened to them. We need them to be able to tell us as accurately as a young child can and share their thoughts with us. 

Maybe you can explain to them what their body parts were. They’re always going to miss something, even when you get to the mechanics of sex and having that conversation; they’re gonna forget, they’re gonna miss something. 

And I think parents freak out and think that’s the first conversation. No, you lead up to it; start with the easy conversation; start where you’re comfortable and where your child is comfortable. We occasionally hear from parents who start talking about it, cover their ears, and run out of the room.

That’s okay. You’ll get there; you don’t have to push that conversation today. Instead, have other conversations about helping them understand their bodies, helping them understand respect and kindness, and asking them what you and your friends do. 

Talking with younger kids about friendships is a good starting point for discussing the difference between friend relationships and romantic relationships. 

Because that, again, is very skewed and confusing for young children. I love myself; I can’t count how many parents told me I would love my friends at 7, 8, and 9 years old. Does that mean I’m lesbian? Not necessarily.  

What is the difference between a romantic love and a friend? That’s a great conversation. It’s not ready. And it’s sex talk. Right? Yes, and then when we have those conversations, that also gets us ready to talk about the opposite, right? 

Abuse, what is abuse? People sometimes know that the classic phrase is good touch, bad touch, right? But we also have to be careful with that, because sometimes, a child that may have had something happen associates the bad touch with themselves, that there must be something wrong with me, or I’m bad because I let them touch me. 

And helping kids understand. Helping them know that adults are never allowed to touch you where you’re uncomfortable. Right? Another great conversation is about forced affection helping your kids.No; again, your body belongs to you. 

And if your creepy uncle Stanley wants to hug you, and you don’t like that, you don’t have to hug them. And even with me, I might want to kiss you goodnight. You may not feel like it. And that’s okay. Because I need my kids not to be able to say no, I need them to understand that it’s okay to say no to an adult. 

Because that was something I had never been taught. I never would have thought, and luckily, I did say no a couple of times when somebody did try to touch me inappropriately. I don’t know where that came from. I

That might have just been me as a child, but I need it. I wanted my kids to have that power. You should know that you don’t say no to your Mom when she asks you to clean up your room, but you can say no to someone who wants to touch or hug you. Even a pat on the shoulder. 

So that’s a great conversation, right? There was just a touch. What do you like? Some kids don’t like to snuggle. Most kids do, but there are some kids that they don’t. Right. 

So help find out what kind of things you like. Do you like a kiss goodnight? Would you prefer a hug? Would you prefer a high five? That is a great conversation to have more than once. Because it evolves what your kids like and don’t like as far as affection is concerned. This will help them distinguish what they are okay with and what they should expect from other people. 

What respect do you and your body deserve? You know it’s okay to change over time, be mad at Mom, and maybe not feel like hugging me tonight. That’s okay because it’s your body. 

So that’s a great dinner and bedtime conversation that can help you have other discussions about what you can do if an adult or an older child wants to touch us. And we know you know it’s a place my bathing suit covers. So I know I don’t want to be touched there, or they should not be touching me there. What can we do? Who can we talk to?   

Another great conversation that leads from that is, who are the people we trust? Now, this is one that many parents think might get people. I think it’s more of the parents that have hang-ups and get scared, right? But having the people you trust 100% with your kids should be a very short list. And like we’ve lived in different places. I’ve moved a lot with my kids. 

So, I didn’t have people I knew for 10 or 15 years; sometimes, I only knew these people for two or three years. But I was very observant of my friends, the husband and the wife. 

And there was typically only one family in my community, maybe two, that I trusted 100%. I’m not a believer in sleepovers. But if something happened, like we had to get to town or there was an emergency, who were those small groups of people? 

It may not be all of your siblings or your cousins, and I am a religious person; I go to church, and I do not trust my whole congregation. I just didn’t know them. 

90% of sexual abuse happens from people we know. Not strangers for some 90%. And that is Scout leaders, coaches, people at church, people in our neighborhood, step-siblings, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles, right? We need to be real with that. And understanding that that is where most sexual abuse happens, not from strangers; it’s the people we know. 

So that’s why that list doesn’t mean you’re not friendly, loving, and kind to the people in your community and your neighbors. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to – I’m in a rush, I’m in an emergency, and I’m just going to trust my neighbor. For half a day while I go sort this out, or whatever, I need to have that small group of people I know I can trust and trust with my children’s lives and future self-worth. 

So that’s a good conversation for us. It’s a good conversation with your partner; who do we 100% trust? Like I said, it should be a small, small list. And help your kids know who that small list is. Because they might think it’s everybody. Oh, it’s everybody. It’s all my teachers at the preschool. 

We love those people; they’re good people. But are these the people we’d 100% trust? Again, that conversation evolves if you move or get to know people better. But that’s a great conversation—right there. So there are lots of conversations. 

And I know, sorry, I just focused mostly on little kids. But my point is, you don’t have to go straight to the penis and vagina talk or talk about oral and anal sex and vaginal sex. That’s what comes with the conversation. And it needs to happen younger than you think, unfortunately, right? Because of all the things our kids are exposed to. 

But if you’re uncomfortable or sense your kids are uncomfortable, start with fun, relaxed conversations about how important our bodies are, how wonderful relationships are, and what a healthy relationship looks like. What does an abusive relationship look like? Respect? What do you want in a relationship someday? Those are simple starts in those simple places.

SHERYL:   Yeah, that’s great. And then how are your books different as you get into the right one for 12 and up? So I’m sure you tackle a lot more of the tough things being tweens and teens. I’m thinking, how do you start? Let’s say you have been laying that foundation. And I love that you said this does not have to be a one-time event conversation. 

This should not be yes or yes. This is woven into healthy relationships. And all of those different questions you brought up? What are some of the things you’re talking about in your book, which is excellent, by the way, that we need to talk to our tweens and teens about?

DINA:    Great question. In the eight to 11 book, I’ll just give you a little cap there so you can understand the context of the 12 plus. In the eight to 11, we have a few things from the three to seven, right? 

How important our bodies are to predators and how predators groom children; we even start the conversations of LGBTQ discussions and different types of families. This is all done in a very open situation where I want my books to appeal and be helpful. That’s the most important thing to parents of any background. 

So, it kind of leaves parents with the opportunity to put their values, cultural background, and feelings on it. So the questions are more like, what do you think LGBTQ means? That’s a conversation. Tweens and teens. What do you know? Who do you know that’s gay or lesbian? 

Okay, or what are the kids at school saying, Okay, you have a gay friend. That’s awesome. Great. Tell me about that. What do you know about what it means to be transgender? Oh, okay, what have you heard? 

It’s always fascinating; you will learn so much from your kids. That’s also why having these conversations is important: Your kids will feel comfortable telling you what they hear and what they are learning at church and school from the neighbors. 

And it’s always way more than you ever thought. That’s the crazy part. So we start those conversations from eight to 11, and we also have a conversation about masturbation. So, the same thing happened in the 12-plus. We have discussions of the mechanics of sex, we talk about healthy relationships, abusive relationships, and LGBTQ issues, and we talk about it. Then, we move up another notch when we talk about sexual harassment and unwanted sexual attention. 

Again, this is an important conversation because it’s no longer just for our daughters. Our sons are being sexually harassed. I would say not quite as much, but they are definitely what I’ve been surprised at, and it’s not just from the opposite gender. 

My boys had unwanted sexual attention, not just from other girls, but from other boys at school; your sons and daughters will go to and from unlikely places, meaning it’s not just at school, it’s not just peers, you’ll be surprised at what neighbors and teachers, are you okay, saying, your kids, another hugely important conversation, of course, in the 12 plus range, and even younger, if your kids are mature enough is a discussion about consent. And understanding what consent means

That is, again, hugely important because it’s not just about vaginal sex anymore, right? We have a lot of kids who are now having oral or anal sex, thinking, Oh, it’s not real sex. And maybe they’re more willing to have that kind of sex earlier on in the relationship because, to them, it’s not as important or it’s not as intimate. And we need to be talking to our kids about all the types of sex and what they mean. 

That will also help you understand what it means for your child because I guarantee it means something different for them. Because the culture grooms our kids differently. Because oral and anal sex are being portrayed as maybe third base now, second base even. So we want that so we are on the same page with our kids. That’s also half why these conversations are so important: to know and understand what your child believes and thinks and what they are being influenced by. Around them in the culture. 

SHERYL:   It’s very confusing because I remember one of my kids coming home and talking about anal sex and hearing about it and how a girl was having anal sex because she wanted to stay a virgin. And she was all confused about it. 

DINA:    I shouldn’t laugh. I shouldn’t laugh. Yeah, yeah, but that is what they’re thinking and hearing. Yeah. And you have to realize it’s not what you think it means, okay? So, many people will say it, and they might assume the worst. Or, they maybe are conservative and don’t think anal sex is okay. And I’m that has nothing to do with it. 

I get upset with articles like an article that came out in Teen Vogue a few years ago, talking about anal sex and talking about how this was a great alternative. What I read into that was that this was a “please your man” kind of article. And this was what we were. 

Teen Vogue thought this was cool and hip to share with our teenage girls. And I’m reading through this: there was nothing, so let’s say you’re a very liberal parent; there was nothing in there about pleasure for the teenage girls. 

There was nothing in there about mutual respect, love, building a relationship, and certainly nothing about her pleasure and how much she might like it. I found that shocking and angered me, but I was told they’re selling this to teenage girls as a great alternative. But it has nothing to do with the teenage girl’s health, self-esteem, and self-worth. 

They thought they were probably being cool, hip, and liberal. As a liberal person, I was very offended by that article. Not because it’s only dangerous to encourage teenagers, and that’s not okay.

For one thing, it’s silly to encourage because how many teenage boys do you think are going to be knowing how to pleasure a girl or a woman for one thing, and being gentle in something like anal sex, where we know that anal fissures and there’s all kinds of health risks, basically with anal sex. 

But again, none of that is talked about in this article. And I was just so frustrated with this. And again, you would know that anybody pooh-poohing this article would immediately be written off as conservative or religious. And I’m thinking, No, this is just bad information for teenagers. And that is what we’re up against as parents, and we must consider it. 

But let’s not break this down into liberal, conservative, religious, or nonreligious. There’s so much bad information for parents and kids that that is where they need us. That is where our kids need us. And so where, it’s so important for us as parents to get over our discomfort, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and talk about these things because nobody loves our kids as much as we do and cares about them. 

No one knows them as well as we do. That is why it is so important for us to have these conversations, whether four or five or 15 or 16 and why it’s so important for us to give our kids perspective on what all this information means.

SHERYL:   Wow, I did not know that article, and just missing all those important conversations in that article that they did not address. And I’m thinking as you were talking about the different questions to ask our kids, how do you broach? 

I think one of the things it’s scary as a parent about talking about whatever your beliefs are about talking about, like lesbian and gay and all those things, is how do we not put our spin? How do we keep it to our values? 

How do we also have those open conversations without appearing judgmental or trying to push our agenda? That’s important, you say. However, I think some of your questions might be scary. What do I say?

DINA:  The most important thing, especially in an LGBTQ discussion, is not to assume that your child is gay or straight, so I want to approach this in the most loving way possible. So that, to me, is the biggest, most important rule as I approach this because if I’m approaching it without the option if I’m thinking, there’s a possibility my child would be gay. 

So, I am not going to approach this negatively. I am not going to put down being gay or straight or pansexual. Transgender, I’m not going to approach it that way. 

So that’s where I want to start, real basic. And just, hey, I was reading something today, or I just got this book. And it made me think about this. And I just wanted to know, what do you know about being gay and lesbian? What does that mean? Okay, what do you think about that? Okay, great. 

Do you have friends who have talked about it or expressed an interest? And you get to gather that information that first helps you to know your child’s thoughts because maybe we want to meet them where they’re at. So if they know nothing, okay, well, we want to share what we know. 

And all of us have a friend or neighbor. Oh, well, do so and so? Okay, well, yeah, she’s a lesbian. And she’s a friend of ours. And she has her partner, okay, what does that mean? Yeah, they love each other but have a different kind of relationship. 

What do you know about being straight? Okay. Well, your dad and I are married; that was our preference, blah, blah, blah. And so, helping your kids, so meet them where they’re at. But also, never assume what’s going on inside. 

That will guide you in that conversation to ensure you do it in the kindest, most loving, nonjudgmental way. Also, you should help your kids know, at the beginning and end of the conversation, that whatever they choose to be, you will love them no matter what. That’s also huge. 

I’ve repeatedly reiterated this to my kids, and it doesn’t matter what you do if you choose to live your life like I do. There’s nothing that can stop me from loving you. You could maybe even commit a crime. You could do this or that. I just don’t know how to not love you, no matter what. 

My kids do not know my values, where I’ve come from, and how I’ve been raised because we’ve talked about these things over the years and just reminded them it doesn’t matter to me. What you know, whether you’re gay, straight, lesbian, or trans, I love you; I can’t stop. I don’t know how I will always say the right thing. Nope. And that’s where I need your help. 

Let me know if I say something rude or offensive. Please let me know; we’ll see what we can do. That’s also another whole thing, right? Because our kids are, their language, and how they’re being what they’re learning from the culture is different. Kind of like how there are certain things that my dad would say I would never say in a million years, right? To me, it was so sexist. 

He was raised in a different time and culture than our children. We were raised in a different time and culture, right? So we want to be open to that, but it doesn’t mean we’ll always agree 100%, right? But I’m open to hearing your suggestions. 

I’m open to hearing what you have to say. And just always, like I said, reminding them, I love you no matter what. However you choose; if you’re struggling with something, I want to know about it. Not because it’s fascinating. I want to be on your team. And I want to help you as much as possible, like your Mom or dad.

SHERYL:   Yeah, yeah. I love you no matter what. So pornography. And I know we’re getting towards time. But I have to ask you about the whole pornography. How do you begin to have the conversation about it? 

Because they’re in the data, they will see it nowadays. That’s a sad thing. How do you have the conversation around porn versus healthy sex? What would you say to our listeners?

DINA:  How I would you can bring it up? I know this is everywhere. You’ve seen it? Or maybe you’re you’re going to see it. You can even ask them when the first time you saw it was. 

Because most people, most kids, have seen it. When was the first time? Oh, I saw it at my friend’s house. Oh, I saw this YouTube video came up, blah, blah, blah, real casual, real calm. And saying, this is everywhere. I also said that this was not everywhere when I was a kid. And so I know I didn’t see this until I was 25 or 36.   

When was the first time you saw it? And then they will pretty much be. They’re typically pretty frank. Oh, yeah, I saw it. I’ve seen it five times, or my cousin so and so showed it to me at the Christmas party. 

You can say okay, I’m glad you haven’t seen it. But you’re going to. And even for a younger child, let’s say, being real basic, do you know what that word means? What does that word mean? 

It is naked, and explaining it simply is naked people. Sometimes, they’re doing a sexual act. Sometimes, they’re just naked. Sometimes, it’s a picture, but it’s typically a video; that’s something important to point out. 

Because, again, remember, for us as kids, it was a picture; we hardly ever saw videos of it; you had to seek it out, right? But now it’s everywhere, letting them start that conversation, of course, and then sharing your thoughts and feelings. 

And if you have a rule about it, I don’t think it is appropriate. I am helping them understand the difference between light and dark. If we want our kids to even understand healthy sexuality, they have to understand that there is something dark out there. 

Pornography that has false messages, you want to explain why you’re okay with it or why you’re not okay with it. For me, I’m not okay with it. And I’ve explained to my kids, to me, it’s very hateful towards women. Women are always, not always, but typically put in a position of powerlessness. 

There’s name-calling; there’s spitting, there’s hitting. This is not what real sex looks or should look like that sex. Healthy sex is about mutual respect and love. And if you believe that’s part of a committed relationship, share that with your kids. Why? Right? 

And then it’s always important to share the why. Okay, not that’s bad. Don’t look at that because I said so or because it’s gross or nasty. You don’t want to do that because that’s where I’ve seen it. It’s nasty. 

That’s where those feelings of shame and secrecy start. Right. So, that’s another great discussion we have in our book about shame and guilt. Right, and how a lot of people turn sex into something dirty or nasty, and you want to explain that sex is good and wonderful and positive and why you believe it. 

It’s wonderful and amazing, but it’s not you who thinks sex is dirty and bad. And so we shouldn’t talk about it. But that it is something special and wonderful. And so that’s why we want to keep it that way. And that pornography is the opposite of that. And help them understand that when they see that it’s fake, right, but it’s made to make money. 

Understanding that this is not a liberating, amazing experience. These are women and men who are being exploited, who are being paid very little to expose their bodies, and something that could and should be an intimate act. 

Instead, they are doing this for the sole purpose of making money. Right, this is not something about art and love. That’s something else important. I think it’s super important to explain the difference between that, and that’s why intimacy is such a focus of our book because pornography has no intimacy. There’s no handhold. 

Well, there’s a little bit now, okay, the porn that they are now gearing towards women, right? They have learned, for women now, feminist porn. They add about 30 seconds to a minute of hugging and kissing. Okay. This is the bone they’re throwing at women. 

Oh, see, it’s porn for women because there’s two seconds of kissing and hugging. And then they get right down to the act, right? Because that’s what most porn is. It’s just the act. And what’s silly, too, because I remember being at a sex ed conference, and this woman being, oh, oh, porn is great. You just need to watch feminist porn. 

Typically, in the same way, it ends with the body punishing sex for the woman, meaning he’s just pounded into her. And I’m like, Yeah, this is so liberating. This is so amazing. It’s so feminist. I’m this is garbage. It’s like the hypocrisy of it all to me. 

The joke is that nothing is liberating, special, or amazing; this is devoid of intimacy. Like I said before, it’s all about my pleasure; make sure I get off. And if my partner gets off too good for them, that is where I worry; we have every future lawyer, doctor, and policeman, a lot of times getting their sex ed, right? 

Most of our kids are getting their sex ed from pornography. And that’s typical because parents are not talking, are not opening their mouths, sharing their wisdom with kids of what sex, the potential and the greatness of sex, what it can be, what it was meant for, like that. 

So we have this huge disconnect of parents not talking and kids being raised on this counterfeit version of sex. 

SHERYL:   You think of all the food and put a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

DINA:    When you think of all the food in the world, all the delicious, amazing food out there, and then you have these companies online telling you this is what sex is, here’s a Big Mac. 

And you’re like, Whoa, that is the big, liberating sex picture you’ve given me? No, that’s x, which is much more than that, right? So, hopefully, we can help our kids understand that.

SHERYL:   That’s why we need you and need to order your books. I did order your book for the younger kids for my grand-kids today. I’m excited to start reading it. I’ll give it to my daughter to share with them because we need to have these conversations.

DINA:    I have a video series coming out in the next couple of weeks for parents who are super busy and unable to sit down and read the book, even though the books are broken down into little lessons. 

Now, I have a video series where parents can watch or listen to it and get ideas. They’ll get a digital copy of the book as part of it and make it even simpler. 

SHERYL:   Okay, I’m excited about that. So Dina, tell them where you should find yourself.

DINA:    We’re at https://educateempowerkids.org/. And, of course, we’re on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and all that good stuff, but the website is where you can find the video series and books: https://educateempowerkids.org/. 

The 30 Days of Sex Talks and all our other books are also on Amazon. However, the website is the main hub because there are many other free resources, including our email list. By joining our email list, you get two free ebooks. So there’s always the fact that I’m a big believer in free and inexpensive stuff. 

SHERYL:   In the end, you have the digital version. You can get the book, but you can also get it digitally. Absolutely. Interpol resources, blog posts, and free books, so check that out: https://educateempowerkids.org/. Okay, well, thank you so much for being here. 

DINA:  Thanks for having me.

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