Can I ask you a question?
This is normally the first thing that is said to me when I meet a parent. Before they ask me anything about myself, the S.H.A.R.E. program that I run, and even before they give their own name. Honestly, though not being a parent myself, I can empathize and understand why. They need help. People know me as “the guy that does the sex talks,” and so, when a parent is faced with a situation where they are looking to help guide their teenager through a difficult time or conversation around healthy relationships and sexuality, they want someone to give them an answer to the difficult questions.
But here is the thing. Often there aren’t simple answers to difficult questions. The best that we can do is to try and engage one another without perpetuating fear and shame.
This is what led us to launch the S.H.A.R.E. podcast. One of the goals of our program is to put practical tools into the hands of parents and educators so that they can facilitate conversations with their teens around topics of sexuality, boundaries, building healthy relationships, and intrinsic self-worth without the dreadful awkwardness that so often accompanies these talks.
S.H.A.R.E. offers a parent specific session that I highly recommend organizations opt into when looking to have us come facilitate the program. The reason why is because we talk about how, specifically as Christians, we have arrived in this place where to even say words like, sex, penis, vagina, has most people, full grown adults included cringing. I more than likely just proved my point by having you read those three words in the last sentence. At the last parent presentation, I put a scripture from the Song of Solomon, a book of the bible, on the board. It goes like this,
How beautiful you are and how pleasant,
my love, with such delights!
Your stature is like a palm tree;
your breasts are clusters of fruit.
I said, “I will climb the palm tree
and take hold of its fruit.”
May your breasts be like clusters of grapes,
and the fragrance of your breath like apricots.
Your mouth is like fine wine flowing smoothly for my love, gliding past my lips and teeth. Song of Solomon – 7:6-9
After reading this section of scripture I asked the group of parents, “raise your hand if reading that felt awkward.” I looked around the room at a very awkward collection of adults who felt so tense that they couldn’t raise their hands. With a smile I continued, “Alright, nod your head if reading that felt awkward.” All of them nodded their heads. After a beat one brave parent in the back said to me, “I feel awkward that I feel awkward.” With a nod I looked at him and nodded. “Exactly.”
This is why we S.H.A.R.E. because the shame around sexuality has so permeated our culture that if most parents feel the intense struggle around talking about sex, imagine how our youth feel. If we truly believe that in the beginning, God created, and it was good, then that must include the whole self, sexuality included, or we run the risk of continuing to extrapolate a shame and fear-based culture.
If you are a parent or educator and you are reading this and want to learn more about how you can have healthy conversations with your teen or youth group around healthy relationships and sexuality without shame then I invite you to check out our latest S.H.A.R.E. Podcast real talk segment with Michelle Bayer, a qualifying psychotherapist in Brantford, here.
We believe that together we can accomplish the vision of the S.H.A.R.E. program, that every student would know the intrinsic value of themselves and others.
This is why we S.H.A.R.E.