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  • Chloe O'Sullivan

On Tour With the Kid | No Silly Questions


I started this column years ago as a way to document making the most of that last year before the Kid started school. Until it has passed, you have no idea how precious that time was when you didn’t have to worry about school terms or sports schedules and could just take off and have an adventure. Your life just becomes more structured. It has reminded me in the years since that even though it is more difficult; you need to be available and make time for those adventures.

 

I now have a teenager, and the changes are not lost on me. When the kid was little, there was not a problem that a hug from Mum could not fix, and we are now creeping into areas where a hug from Mum sometimes is not enough. Friendships become more complicated; romantic issues are just around the corner.


You cross your fingers and hope that you have created a strong enough bond that your kid will come to you with any problem or question they have as life edges into these more complicated areas. If you are honest with yourself, there are lots of things you would not have asked your parents. All these things were on my mind when I saw all the media about Big W pulling a book aimed at teenagers off their shelves.


The book is Yumi Stynes Welcome to Sex: Your no-silly-questions Guide to Sexuality, pleasure and figuring it out - a copy of which was already on my bookshelf. It currently sits alongside Welcome to Consent and Welcome to your period. And frankly, I cannot see what the issue is.


If your children are not old enough for the information, feel free not to buy it. For kids that are old enough, it's a valuable resource. The book was put together with Dr Melissa Kang. For those of us who grew up reading Dolly, Dr Kang wrote Dolly Doctor. It was an advice page for teens back in the day.


Being a regular reader, it was the place where teens could ask questions that they felt they couldn't ask elsewhere. I went to a catholic school in the 80s, and the only bit of sex advice was, “the best contraception is NO.”


The outrage raises a thought-provoking query: would you prefer your child to be educated early on about their body, sex, consent, and agency, or would you rather have them encounter issues later in life due to a lack of understanding about sexual matters?


Thankfully, I was close to my mum, but I hate to think what might have happened if that was the only information I had going into my formative years.


In my experience, by the time you think they are ready for "the talk", they know far more than you think they do. I wanted something on hand that would help start that conversation, and I certainly would prefer that over advice or, more likely, misinformation from other teens.


The years between now and adulthood are so tricky. With ever-changing technology, kids can access so much information that we may never even know they have seen. I wish I could slow things down and keep the kid in our safe little bubble, but it’s just not how it works.


The 7th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health (2021) conducted nationally among Australian high school students unveiled that 67.5 per cent of young individuals sought information about sex and sexual health on the internet, with 56.7 per cent relying on websites and 48.3 per cent using social media as their sources.*


My entire job is to be her training wheels. To give her the skills and knowledge to navigate the big wide world on her own and be her soft place to fall while she is trying to find her way. From a grateful mother, I just wanted to say thank you to Yumi Stynes and Dr Melissa Kang. I’m also thankful I grabbed my copy early!


*Source: www.opal.latrobe.edu.au



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