PARENTS

How To Teach Your Boys About Sex And Relationships

Schools don't teach our kids about how to be a loving partner.

09/01/2017 15:54 EDT | Updated 09/01/2017 17:02 EDT

Good relationships are the key to happiness, so as our boys grow into young men, we hope they find fulfilling and healthy relationships, inside and outside the bedroom.

But being a good partner in a healthy relationship that is sexually fulfilling doesn't just happen. How exactly do we think our kids are going to figure it all out? If they learn from their peers, media, and porn, they are going to be sadly misguided.

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Sure, schools teach boys and girls how to avoid STIs and how to put on a condom properly, but they don't teach about being a loving partner, heartbreak, and forgiveness.

Here's six ways to teach your boys about how to be in a healthy relationship.

Teach by example

You've definitely heard that modelling good behaviour is important for your children, but modelling what a healthy relationship looks like is arguably the most important.

How you engage with your partner sets the blueprint for what your child will seek out and replicate for themselves in their romantic relationships.

How you engage with your partner sets the blueprint for what your child will seek out and replicate for themselves in their romantic relationships.

If you yell and slam doors when you fight, that is likely going to be seen as a normal thing angry couples do. If you talk it through, solve the problem together, make up and forgive one another, that becomes the gold standard of how couples operate and your kids will seek out partners who have good communication skills and break up with the door slammers.

Discuss the qualities of a good relationship

Besides demonstrating your own healthy relationship, it's important to actually discuss what qualities make up a good relationship.

Susan Chiang

Ask your children what they think is important in a good partner. What values do they want to live their lives by when it comes to relationships? How do they live out the values currently in their friendships? Ask them to think about other couples they know (in real life, or depicted in movies or TV shows) that embody the type of relationship they could see themselves in.

Point out disrespectful behaviour

Parents should publicly call out any degrading language or behaviours towards women.

If a movie makes a dumb blond joke – speak up! If your son makes an idle comment about women drivers, let them know that is not OK and explain why. Ask them why they think video games like Grand Theft Auto depict women as prostitutes and include killing them as part of the game play.

Parents should publicly call out any degrading language or behaviours towards women.

Increase their awareness of just how frequently women are absent, denigrated, belittled, degraded, or sexualized in popular culture. The key is to engage their own thinking processes, rather than lecturing or moralizing.

Teach them to make love, not porn

As difficult as it is for some parents to discuss sex, our boys need to learn from a wise elder, lest they think that porn represents real life.

Parents have a duty to protect their children from the images on porn, and to explain that pornography is created for the purpose of male excitement and is neither a tutorial nor an accurate representation of sex.

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Sex should be an extension of a healthy relationship and it involves a lot of communication and self-awareness. Teach your boys to discover what they and their partner like and don't like. Sex is co-created pleasure and co-operative — both parties' needs should be met.

Teach boys to listen to their intuition, and to not do anything that doesn't feel right or uncomfortable.

Explain consent

Sexual activity must be respectful and consensual, and you can begin teaching these (age-appropriate, obviously) lessons to pre-schoolers.

As I've written previously, sexual consent is about setting respectful personal boundaries for yourself and honouring other people's boundaries. Part of this involves having respect for yourself and others, watching for social clues, and having empathy.

Sexual consent is about setting respectful personal boundaries for yourself and honouring other people's boundaries.

Teachable moments include learning to ignore social pressures, not touching a person without their permission, speaking up when you see someone's boundaries being ignored, and learning that 'No' means 'No.'

Diane Diederich

But that doesn't mean sex can't be fun. Your boys should learn that people can have their own personal fetishes, so long as you engage in respectful consensual sexual activities your partners enjoy too.

Consent is a big topic, so if you need more resources on how to broach it with your boys, click here.

Playing games is not required

The image of the non-emotional male runs deep in our masculine ideal, which leads many boys to think that they have to play it cool and seem uninterested in their romantic partners.

Boys are taught (sometimes inadvertently) that to be a man is to be independent and not needy, to be strong and not vulnerable.

Peter Beavis

To have a close relationship, sometimes we have to be vulnerable and dependent on someone. Putting up walls and distancing ourselves from our partners is not helpful.

So, if your lovesick puppy wants to text his boyfriend or girlfriend and say he had a great time on their date (that just ended 30 minutes ago) and he thinks he "should" wait three days so he doesn't look too needy, tell him to follow his instincts. It's OK to look vulnerable and show you're interested in someone.

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