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Does talking about sex embarrass you? Does having “the talk” with your kids scare you? What are the important conversations you should be having with your kids?
In this 3 part podcast episode series, Veronica Cisneros speaks to Dr. Lanae St. John about having “the talk” with your kids.
Meet Dr. Lanae St John
Dr. Lanae St.John, known as The MamaSutra, is a board-certified sexologist, certified sex coach, and sexuality educator. She is the author of “Read Me: A Parental Primer for “The Talk”.
Lanae lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her significant other and two teen daughters.
Visit Dr. St.John’s website and connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.
Click here for a free chapter of Dr. St.John’s book and click here to grab the “Touch Lab” Freebie.
In This Podcast
- A different experience
- Wanting to keep our kids safe
- Conversations about independence lead to dealing with sex
- Arming our children with the tools they need
- Common mistakes parents make when having “the talk”
A different experience
There is so much shame and embarrassment that we adults carry in our bodies and false messages that we were told about sexuality that we carry and we hold. And we hold these as true and real. But if you really start to scratch the surface on it, there’s something behind it that’s not real. In the summer, it is normal to see babies/small kids splashing around naked in a park. They accept the body as being a body and there’s nothing sexual about it. When Dr. Lanae and her family returned to the States, when at a private, community pool, she taught her kids how to change into their swimsuits in a towel. She had an aha moment when she thought “There’s nothing wrong with their cute little cherub bodies, why am I making them do this? Why do I inherently know that it’s not okay for them to be naked in public?”
Wanting to keep our kids safe
These things that we do are meant to keep us safe, we want our kids to be safe and protected from predators. The panic is real and we do fear that some weirdo is going to take interest or take a liking to our kid, but, sadly, research shows that it’s the people already within your scope that are likely to be more of a risk to your children than a random stranger. It’s so important for us to talk to our kids about these things and talk to them about the five building blocks to healthy sexuality that Dr. Lanae talks about in her book. You need to talk to them about boundaries and consent. They need to know that it’s okay to have protective boundaries and that they don’t have to let people, even you, touch them. As they start to grow more independent you’re going to have to decide what are the battles that you really want to have with them letting them maybe learn things for themselves along the way.
Conversations about independence lead to dealing with sex
The times that you give your child the opportunity to explore their independence is when the stakes are low so that you are still there to support them in learning and growing. Approach your kid with curiosity – ask them to tell you more about the subject so that it helps them develop their critical thinking skills around it. You’re able to help them (be their training wheels) when the stakes are low so that later when they’re out of the house, you’re able to have these conversations that they now need to have because you already laid the foundation before they left.
Arming our children with the tools they need
Kids are met with jokes or people saying things that are inappropriate, completely out of line, or even disrespectful, but how can they defend themselves or educate the misinformed if they themselves have been misinformed? Although this may be an uncomfortable conversation to have, it can’t be about the emotion you’re feeling, you have to be able to challenge that. There has to be a shift in our mindsets so that we can arm our children with the tools they need when met with information that’s not true.
As a parent, you need to set aside that fear so that you can talk reasonably and rationally with your children and not give them the fear that you have. The biggest thing in moms’ heads when talking about sex is “penis” and/or “vagina” but there are so many steps that come before any genitals meet. It’s dating, love, and relationships. The issues that people have with not being able to communicate with each other come from not being able to talk about this stuff and not being trained in it. Dr. Lanae’s book breaks it down into five building blocks:
If we can teach our kids young about vulnerability, even including sex, then it draws a different connection with them because they now see us as safe and can come to us with any questions without worrying about judgment, criticism, and shame. What’s more vulnerable than talking about sex?
Common mistakes parents make when having “the talk”
These seeds that we plant when they are young, they do pop up later, but possibly in ways that we didn’t even anticipate them to grow.
When you have something that you need to attend to like fear or embarrassment, you have to pay attention to it, examine it, and figure out what you can do to help the situation. Why do you have this embarrassment about sex? The people before us probably had some scary situations where they weren’t protected and so these conversations around sex were around protection, danger, and all of those scary things. It’s morphed into this embarrassment and shame and it doesn’t serve us.
Click here for a free chapter of Dr. St.John’s book and click here to grab the “Touch Lab” Freebie.
Books by Dr. Lanae St.John
Other books mentioned in this episode
Meet Veronica Cisneros
I’m a licensed therapist and women walk into my office every day stressed and disconnected. As a mom of three daughters, I want my girls to know who they are and feel confident about their future. I can’t think of a better way to help other women than by demonstrating an empowered and unapologetic life. So I started Empowered and Unapologetic to be a safe space for women to be vulnerable and change their lives for the better before she ever needs to see a therapist. Whether you listen to the podcast, join the free Facebook community, join the VIP community, or attend our annual retreat, you’re in the right place. Let’s do this together!
Thanks for listening!
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You deserve to enjoy your marriage and your kids, without the stress perfectionism brings. I am going to teach you how to identify who you are, outside of all of the roles you play. Hi, I’m Veronica Cisneros. I’m a wife, mother of three, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I am on a mission to teach women, just like you, how to become empowered and unapologetic. Welcome to our girl gang. Hey ladies, welcome to Empowered and Unapologetic. I’m your host, Veronica Cisneros. Today’s guest is a board-certified sexologist, certified sex coach, educator, and author of Read Me: A Parental Primer for The Talk. She is known as The Mama Sutra and a former professor of human sexuality. So please help me by welcoming Dr. Lanae St. John. Hey, Dr. Lanae. [DR. LANAE]: Thank you. Hi, how are you? [VERONICA]: I’m doing good. I have to say I am so excited to have this conversation with you. And as I was reading your book, it was back and forth. I was like, okay, wait a minute, she had me at hello, and then now I’m like, nervous and I’m having all of these feelings. And so, it’s like, okay, then this means that I’m learning and growing, and this is great. And so, we’re gonna have the talk, right? [DR. LANAE]: Many talks. [VERONICA]: So, I want our audience, I want all the moms out there, to get to know you. So how did you become a sexologist? Because that’s pretty major. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. I mean, how does one become a sexologist? I mean, it was something that I was interested in, in college. I mean, I grew up Republican, Catholic, you know, pretty sheltered. I didn’t go to a Catholic school or anything, but my parents definitely opted out of sex ed for me in high school. I don’t remember getting sex ed and I know they talked about it with my peers. I remember one particular day not actually going to school, so actually, I was opted out of that. But fast forward to going to college; I had some free choice to be able to pick the classes I wanted. And I was really interested in this human sexuality class. So, I took it and I was fascinated by it. I was like the curve breaker because I read every chapter. I did every quiz in the back of the book, like at the end of the chapter, and I just dove in, I just loved it. Even though I wasn’t having it; I was still a virgin till I was like 20, 21 years old. But I was fascinated by it. And having taken that class as a junior sophomore, I then became like, the go to person for my friends. And I remember talking to people, like being at a frat party or some party and, like, feeling totally comfortable talking about this thing that I was learning about and just fascinated by. So, that was like, the beginning of what I was interested in; of course, you know, I didn’t have any sex ed, so I was making really stupid decisions around sexuality at that age. And, not always sober either, because that was part of my journey into learning about sexuality. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. Yeah. [DR. LANAE]: And so, I was numb about a lot of stuff. I didn’t really pay attention, didn’t really know everything. Got married, moved to New York City. Got the opportunity to live in Germany with my then husband, and I was pregnant when we moved over there. And once I had my babies living in Germany, I got to see a completely different culture with how they raised their children around sex. And so, I moved back to the States when it was time for us to move back. My kids were then in preschool, heading into kindergarten. And I was like, gosh, I really want to go back to school and further my education, like I want to do something more now. I live in the Bay Area, and I googled graduate school human sexuality, and at the time, there existed a school called the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. And it was a tiny little school, very nontraditional. It was an amazing experience to go to school there; that’s where I got my masters and then my doctorate in human sexuality. It’s really a fascinating study, you know, I went in thinking I knew everything, kind of a little arrogant, like, oh, this human sexuality thing is gonna be easy. But there is so much nuance and so much… it’s just such a huge spectrum, all of sexuality, there’s just so much to it and it touches every discipline. It touches legal, it touches health, it touches everything. So yeah, it was really a wonderful journey. And I love the field that I work in. [VERONICA]: And you can tell. I appreciate your passion for this because it’s not like, okay, let’s just talk about sex. This is so much more, so much more. In your book, you say we should stress less on having the talk about sex and more focusing on kids in sexuality. You also commented on living in Germany, and what that experience was like, and I could not pronounce the name for the life of me. I was reading it, like, I don’t even know how to say this. But can you tell us more about that? Because we have a lot of moms listening and they’re like, wait a minute. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. So, I guess the place I would start with that was living in Germany was very different than living in the States because we had a public pool near our house, and this public pool was like an outdoor, huge… There was like an Olympic sized pool, then there was a splash pool and then there was a kiddie pool. And around the kiddie pool were all these toddlers and babies, and they were naked. It is not abnormal in the summer, in a fountain, in a park, to see babies splashing around, small kids splashing around naked in a park in Germany. And nobody thinks twice. Nobody scolds you or tells you to get clothes on your kid or anything like that. They just accept the body as being, you know, a body. And there’s nothing sexual about it. And so, you know, having my kids there, being at these public places with my kids and allowing them to run around naked. I mean, I did have suits for them as well but if they wanted to run around naked it didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother anybody else. And so, once I moved back to the States, like I said, I think my youngest was three, and the oldest was four, just ready to turn five. And that first summer, I belonged to a small, private, you know, community pool. And it wasn’t like a public pool that anybody could go to. But going to that pool for the first time, I taught these kids how to change into their swimsuits in a towel. You know how to do that. You know what I’m talking about, right? [VERONICA]: Yeah, no girl, it takes magic, wisdom… [DR. LANAE]: We can do it. I had this aha moment of like, wait a minute, you know, they’re still these cute little cherub bodies and there’s nothing wrong with this body. So why am I making them…? Why do I inherently know that it is not okay for them to be naked in public? So, there’s this moment of like, you know, I hadn’t yet started going back to school about sexuality. And so, it was kind of like one of these, you know, the ‘hmmm’ emoji? That’s what I pictured, was like, hmmm, what is different about this? And so it was in that first trimester of going back to school, that I sat in on a lecture that was talking about parenting, and teaching kids and how there’s so much shame and embarrassment that we carry, adults carry in our bodies and false messages that we were told about sexuality that we carry, and we hold and we hold these as true and real. But if you really start to scratch the surface on it, there’s something behind it that’s not real. And so, these things are… they’re meant to keep us safe, right? So, it’s like this weird balance of like, okay, we do want our kids to be safe and protected from predators or pedophiles or anything like that. [VERONICA]: Bingo. Yeah, and as you were saying that, you know, I found myself… and I’m sorry for interrupting you, but I just kind of wanted to say this – as you were saying about what it’s like, you know, kids running around naked, right away I’m like, oh, my God, grab a towel. And I’m thinking of my kids and like, okay, throw bathing suits, somebody’s going to Walmart, stat like, everything needs to be happening stat because, you know, I go into protection, safety, right away, like how… and then, my kids being naked, it’s like, the fear, like, no lie, my heart just started beating so fast because it’s like, okay, no girl, no Dr. Lanae, don’t do it, don’t do it. So, what is that? What is this panic? [DR. LANAE]: So, the panic is real. We do fear that some weirdo, psychopath, whatever, is gonna take an interest or take a liking to our kid. But research shows, and more data shows that it’s people you know, sadly, it’s people in the family or people that are somehow within your scope already, within your circle already who are probably more of a risk than the people who would be like some strange rapist jumping out of a bush. The other thing that’s super important for us is that we talk to our kids about this stuff, we talk to them about boundaries and consent and the things that I listed in my book, which are the five building blocks to a healthy sexuality. I mean, if you are able to talk to your kids about boundaries and letting them know that it’s okay for them to have protective boundaries, that they don’t have to let other people touch them. In fact, if they don’t want anybody to touch them, they should never do that, and including us. I have to take a step back here because, when kids are babies, when they’re babies, they rely on us for everything, we have to do everything for them. However, once they start to get a little more independent, this is like a key time to be having these conversations as well. Because we may be doing these things forcefully to our kids – they don’t really want… so we have to examine if we want to really argue with them or fight with them about that. And I’ll give you a couple examples of what I mean by that. Brushing their hair, right? Maybe it doesn’t always require that they brush their hair, we can let them go without brushing their hair. But sometimes we’ll grab them and force them and brush their hair. That’s getting [unclear], right? But that’s like, do we really want to have that battle? Do we want to allow our kid to have some autonomy or some agency over their body in little things like that? But it’s a little different with, like, if they’re taken to the doctor and they need to get a shot. Then that’s a different conversation. This is something that’s actually going to protect you, as long as you’re okay with vaccinations, things like that. But this is a different conversation. Something kind of in between there, in the nuance range, is like brushing their teeth. You can’t really… I mean, it’s like, do you really want to battle with them, but at the same time, you don’t want them to get cavities. And so, talking to them, and reasoning with them, you know, depending on the age that you’re at with them at these things. So, it might be like, six, seven, like, it just depends on where your kid is developmentally. And, yeah, what are the battles that we really want to have with them, you know, letting them maybe learn how to clip themselves into their car seat instead of picking them up, forcing them in, clipping them in. Of course, sometimes that’s going to have to happen if you got to go somewhere. But yeah, these conversations about boundaries and agency is all early conversations about consent. [VERONICA]: So a couple places I go right now with what you just shared is, absolutely, you know, as a mother, we want our children to be independent, we want to guide them and teach them, and provide them with healthy tools to become this independent, successful little human being. I’m saying little human being because I’m not ready to say adult, because my daughter’s gonna be 18 soon and I’m not ready for that. That’s a whole other conversation. So, I’m listening to all of this and then I also think, you know, okay, that conscience, that ability to go ahead and problem solve, well, that’s not necessarily developed until they’re about 25 years old. So here I have this individual who is completely driven by emotion from birth, you know, that unconscious is fully developed. And now it’s like, okay, wait a minute. Now I’m giving them the sense of independence, and we’re talking about sex. And so, although I’ve heard everything you said, all I can think of right now is, okay, wait a minute, how does this deal with sex? And how am I talking to them? And I’m not sure I’m on board just yet. Where are we going? I want to listen to it, but I feel like it’s a crash, like, what’s happening? [DR. LANAE]: Okay, so yeah, these conversations about independence are really important. And the thing I will give you, as like a little seed to plant in your head to start thinking about this differently, is that when the stakes are low, those are the times that you give your child the opportunity to explore their independence, right? While the stakes are really low, this is where you can be there still to support them in learning and growing. So, dating is one example. I was the kid whose parents told them; you can’t date till you’re 14. Okay. Fine. This is years ago now. I’m dating myself a little bit, but, you know… It’s one of those things where if we don’t allow them to learn and develop and grow in these… it’s like training wheels, right? If they’re dating, and you’re having conversations with them about like, what does it mean today? What do people do when they date? What’s the purpose of dating? Like, approach your kid with curiosity, you know, tell me more about that. So that it helps them to develop their critical thinking skills around these things, too. Yeah, it’s just, help them… you’re able to help them, I should say, when the stakes are low. So now you and I, we have kids that are just about on the cusp of that 18, they’re going to be out soon, you know, doing whatever, and the conversations that they’ll need to have or that we’ll hope they have with us when they’re out of the house, hopefully we’ve already laid the foundation for those things before they leave. And so, yes, these low stakes items now, helping them, being there for them for when they inevitably fall off when the training wheels are removed, we can be there for them much like we were when the training wheels were literally removed. And so, now, if they experience that first breakup and the heartache of it… before the show you and I were talking about coping skills – how are you there for your kid to help them learn and manage the coping of their first breakup, if they don’t have it until they’re, you know, 22 or whatever? [VERONICA]: Okay, okay, now I can understand. The minute you said, teaching them when the stakes are low, like helping and guiding them, because right now, with them being so young, I have a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old. You mentioned stakes are low so right now I’m kind of processing that. And then I’m also thinking of when I was in grad school and we had a whole course on sex education, and my professor, Dr. Viola Vasquez, she had stressed on focusing on these healthy conversations with your children, and having the conversations often, and frequently. And it made me think of how many times my kids are met with kids, you know, maybe telling jokes or saying things that are inappropriate and completely out of line, or even disrespectful. How is my daughter gonna be able to understand, defend herself, or even educate her friend when she’s been given information that’s not correct? How’s she gonna be able to stand there and feel confident in this if I don’t have these conversations? And so, it made me think of like, okay, although having this conversation is uncomfortable, you know, it can’t be about this emotion that’s driving whether or not I educate my daughter. I have to be able to challenge that. And so, it sounds like there has to be this shift in our mindsets so that we can arm our children with the tools they need when they’re met with information that’s not correct, not true. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. 100%. Those moments when you can remove your own emotion, when we can calm our nervous systems to be able to take away the fear, or maybe not take away the fear, but at least put the fear aside, like, acknowledge it even and say, this stuff kind of scares me because nobody talked to me about it, but you deserve to know the real story. Because, you know, I’ve been doing this stuff with my kids since they were three and five. When I went back to school to study human sexuality, I just got curious about everything and so, the conversations I’ve had with my kids have been nothing like the conversations I had with my mom. In fact, I didn’t have the conversations until I was in college with my mom. And by then, lots of things had happened – not all of them good. And the place where I am with my kids now is I have a level of trust and ease that I’m certain my mom did not have about me, because I didn’t have that feeling. And so, I’m sure that my kids pick up on the fact that… well, I know that they know I trust them because I’ve talked about it; we talk about when they do things that gets into that, like, I’m not so sure I can trust it. Like, I’m feeling like I can’t trust you right now about XYZ. So being able to put that emotion, that when I was younger, could really take over, whatever it was about. Early marriage jealousy things, you know, all those things that when I was young, I didn’t really have the wherewithal to be able to be like, okay, cool my jets for a minute. And set aside that fear so that I can talk reasonably and rationally and not give you the fear that I have, or I can acknowledge the fear so you understand that I have fear and what my fear’s about, but that you can survive. You can do better than I did. [VERONICA]: Yes. Yes. [DR. LANAE]: These conversations about often and frequently, I think, where I can help moms – and this was the thing that was the biggest thing for me – is that these conversations, when we say talk about sex, in my head as a young mom, it was always thinking about, you know, penis and vagina, penis and vagina. But like, if you can think, or if you can try to remember that there are so many steps that have to come before a penis and vagina or any genitals meet, right? It’s the dating, love, relationships. This is the stuff that we don’t have classes on dating, love, and relationships, and we should have that type of class in addition to sex. I mean, that’s essentially what comprehensive sex ed is. But, you know, these things… my armchair therapist wannabe in me is like, this is how we’ve gotten to hookup culture. We do not acknowledge dating, love, and relationships. Communicating. The issues that people have with being able to communicate with each other come from not being able to talk about this stuff, you know, not being trained in it. And that idea, the new mom idea that talking about sex is about telling them about what parts go where, who does what, is the fear. That is the fear that our parents gave us. And the book that I wrote tries to help break that down into these bite sized nuggets. I mean, they’re big though. Communication, consent, respect, pleasure, and fantasy. And if you can start to shift your thinking away from what parts go where and thinking toward the concepts within these five building blocks, those are the talks that you have early, and often, and frequently. These are the things about, you know, communicating your emotions, needs, wants, desires, what does that look like? All of these five building blocks are things that you can use when you are dealing with a two-year-old. You can start when they’re two, when they’re 12. They’re definitely going to help them when they’re 22 and on their own, making their own decisions. But none of those building blocks are about what parts go where, or who does what. They are about having the building blocks, the foundation, to a healthy adult sexuality. [VERONICA]: Boom, right there. No, I appreciate that you covered that because like I said, before we even pressed record, you know, as I said, I felt so many different ways and I was like, okay, this is great because I am learning and I’m growing and there’s this level of vulnerability. And when I reached the five building blocks: communication, consent, respect pleasure and fantasy, I’m not gonna lie. Pleasure and fantasy, talking to my kids about this, it was like, okay, wait a minute, I’m not sure if I’m ready. But I was able to say that I’m not sure that I’m ready versus oh, hell no, I’m not talking to my kids about that. There was a shift in just reading your book. And in addition to that, I think about like, how often do I challenge the women in my group? I have a VIP group and in that group, we talk about uncomfortable conversations all the time, life issues, struggles. I mean, we go there and I’m constantly encouraging the ladies to be vulnerable. And if we can go ahead and teach our kids young, about vulnerability, even including sex, well, then it draws this different connection with them, because now they see us as safe. Now they know they can come to us with any question, minus the judgment, minus the criticism, minus the shame. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing we have to dial back on ourselves. Like, I had plenty of judgment. Oh, God. [Unclear] [VERONICA]: Well, another thing that you said was thinking about our history, think about our childhood history. And I’m going to tell you right now, I was raised… my dad was so strict; the minute there was a kissing scene, turn it off, turn it off, forward, you know, on the tape recorder, back in the days when you know, the VCRs, forward it. And then even when I was engaged and then married, my husband, poor guy, we’d be all sitting in the living room, and then this couple would be making out and my dad would just look at my husband and say, Willy, and Willy, without skipping a beat jumped from the sofa and went straight to press forward, because it’s like, oh, we’re not allowed to do that. No, no, no, we don’t do that here. And it made me think about all of those past experiences and how, in so many ways, that has stopped me, that has kept me stuck in the stork story, or, no, sex is taboo. We don’t talk about pleasure here. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah, I mean, that’s a perfect example. That’s a perfect example of not being able to see or witness pleasure. I mean, so for one, you talked about vulnerability, being able to be vulnerable – what’s more vulnerable than talking about sex? Right? Like, that’s a big one. But also, I had a similar experience growing up where, if kissing came on a show, I was the one who got embarrassed. Why would I be embarrassed by other people kissing? And so, there’s this other weird thing that we do as parents: we don’t want to let our kids know that we have sex. It’s like, ooh, don’t be in the same house when your kids are home to have sex with your partner. But at the same time, we say, oh, sex is something that two people who love each other do. Why don’t we…? Where’s the disconnect there? [VERONICA]: Okay, so here we go, because I have a whole bunch of questions for you. And I’m about to admit something. I can’t believe I’m doing this because I don’t even know who’s listening. Okay, so, this is another question. Let’s say, allegedly, okay? Allegedly. Let’s say you lock your door, right. But you had one of those cheap locks and you have the key, you know, outside of the door versus inside, right on the top where your kids can go in and totally reach it with a little stool. Anyway, I’m not saying this happened to me. But. So, hypothetically, let’s say you thought your kids were asleep because yeah, you’re right, like, this is what happens with couples, couples with kids, and you know, you’re having a nice moment with your husband, and trying to be as quiet as possible because that is what we do. And your kids barge in because they think you’re in danger. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah, they hear noises. [VERONICA]: Yeah, but they only hear noises because they woke up because they had a nightmare, or whatever. And so, they’re walking towards your room and it’s never locked, what the hell’s going on? And now there’s noises coming from it. Faint noises, but it doesn’t matter. And your two kids run in and you’re completely naked, and they’re screaming. I’m gonna tell you right now. I literally left my husband hanging. He was there on the bed, completely naked. I just bolted to the bathroom and I was like it’s every man for themselves at this point. And my little Brookie, she’s walking around, pacing our room going, what is happening? Oh my god, what is happening? And my middle child is telling me, you’re not supposed to be doing that, you promised me you didn’t want to have any more kids. So, what do we do? Take me to a place where I could redeem myself. [DR. LANAE]: Okay. Well, I mean, it’s already happened. We could do a breakdown analysis of what could have gone differently or what to do instead – how would you like…? [VERONICA]: So, it’s gonna happen. I think reality is, listen, human beings, you’re married, and if you’re not having sex, well, we need to talk about that. Even if you have kids in the house, right? And that’s a whole ‘nother chapter we could go into. What do we do because, yeah, I don’t know how many people have been caught. [DR. LANAE]: Everybody, at some point. I mean, you’ve either caught your parents or… [VERONICA]: Yeah. [DR. LANAE]: So, one of the books that… one of the very first books, even before I went back to study sexuality, was a book that I got about sex in Germany, like Sex and Parenting, the same kind of books that Robie Harris does here in the United States, or something similar. There was a page in the… I’m trying to think of what age this book was for, but there was a page where you see mom on top of dad, underneath maybe some covers, but you can still see the outline of kind of… it’s a drawing, right, a cartoon, illustration. And you see a little kid holding the door open with his teddy bear under his arm. [VERONICA]: Poor kid. [DR. LANAE]: And the parents don’t react in the same way that I, historically, had seen parents act. And so, it was this moment, even in reading this book as an adult, looking this over before I read it to my kids, I was like, Huh, huh, okay. Because even then, well, my kids were still in cribs back… trying to think of how old they were. So, anyway, my reaction to seeing this book was another one of these aha moments. And (1) if sex is not shameful itself between mommy and daddy because they love each other, and this is the message that we want to give our kids, then being able to stop what you’re doing without the shock, fear, embarrassment reaction, just to maybe stop what you’re doing. And then shift your focus less on oh my god, you’ve caught me, to you’re here and not in your bedroom. Are you okay? What’s the matter? And if they say, I had a bad dream, then you can deal with the dream and just make the issue of them seeing you in flagrante or whatever, in the moment, a non-issue. Because the piece they’re going to remember is how you reacted to them. And if they were in their own moment of distress because of the bad dream… [VERONICA]: Yeah, which is heightened if we take it the other way. [DR. LANAE]: Right. So, kind of stopping and just… because you weren’t doing anything wrong if you really break it down. [VERONICA]: No, and I was apologizing. I was apologizing like there was no tomorrow. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. So, it’s like, you know, being able to say, hey, you’re here and not in bed. What do you need? Are you okay? Did you have a bad dream? Do you need water? Do you have to go to the bathroom? And then, like, dismount and then go deal with them. And, I mean, you can even do that naked because there’s nothing wrong with your body. And that even gives them the message that being naked in the house is not a terrible thing. I don’t know… I don’t know, most families probably aren’t naked families and when Britney Spears said she had a naked family, I was always side eyeing that. But as a mom with two kids who wants to have her kids not feel any shame or embarrassment or guilt about their bodies, we became a naked household and, you know, I have… they would kill me if I said this on public. Okay, so I won’t say who, or which, but I have one kid that loves to be topless and I have another kid who runs around in her underwear. So, it’s like, you know, they don’t have, they absolutely don’t have the same body shame that even I, in my current age and physical state, I still have the trauma. [VERONICA]: So that’s what this really is then, because when you explain it in that way, I mean before I was like, oh my god, oh my god, and then after it’s like okay, wait a minute, she’s right. We don’t have to… this isn’t more shame. This is more… it’s not necessarily sexual and I think if we’re able to kind of just knock that off, like, this is natural, you know, and it’s not like we’re doing anything to go ahead and imprint our kids in a negative way. But I think that’s really what the focus is, like, recognize that this isn’t a shameful thing. I’m so glad you mentioned your kids and running around, you know, doing their thing because it’s like they’re still them and we’re not allowing our judgments or opinions or… not our judgments, but maybe anybody outside to go ahead and like penetrate their minds. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah, 100%. [VERONICA]: That makes sense. So, with this, I know it’s important for us to teach our kids about growth and learning and making sure that it’s okay to fail. We’re not in this state of okay, no, failure’s not an option. Failure’s gonna be a constant option, unfortunately, for all of us. [DR. LANAE]: I know it too well. [VERONICA]: Every day, every day, and I learn so much from it. But what are common mistakes us parents make when having the talk? And right now, just in hearing you, I believe my mistake was I was apologizing. I know when there’s this heightened level of anxiety, stress, or fear, if it’s met with your parent in that same level, well, guess what? Now it’s just this catastrophe versus – I like how you said it, be calm. You’re gonna go ahead and address the issue, but it’s not at this, you know, dysregulated state. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. Yeah. I read a book that was not about sex at all, but it shed a lot of light on just my reaction to things in general. Have you read Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on anger? [VERONICA]: I have not. I have not. [DR. LANAE]: There’s a little story in there, or parable, or whatever you call it, where he talks about anger as a baby. And when you notice anger acting up, you sort of picture anger as a baby and when you have a baby, how do you react to the baby? You tend to the baby, you make sure, what’s going on? What can I do to eliminate the piece that’s creating this reaction in my baby anger. I’m probably really massacring this story. [VERONICA]: No, it’s making sense. [DR. LANAE]: But, you know, when you have this thing that you need to attend to then you pay attention to it, and you examine it, like, what can I do that can address this baby fear, or baby embarrassment, or whatever the case may be? You stop and you look at it and attend to it, and figure out okay, what can I do to help in this situation? And so, it’s the same thing with any of the things, with embarrassment, like, why do I have this embarrassment about sex? Well, it’s easy to know because, for me, it was my parents’ reactions to it. And for you, maybe it’s a contributing piece is how, you know, TV shows were. The reaction in the family to kissing on TV – of course, there’s going to be some embarrassment around that. And to be fair to our parents, you know, they were doing the best they could. Nobody talked to them. Or, when they did talk they got some scary, black and white movie about venereal disease, you know? [VERONICA]: Bingo. Yes. [DR. LANAE]: So, we have to have a little compassion for, okay, I understand, my ancestors, all the people before me, probably did have some pretty scary situations; they weren’t protected, or they weren’t kept safe. And so, these conversations around sex were around protection and danger and all those scary things. And so, it just sort of morphs though into this embarrassment and shame stuff and it doesn’t serve us. If we are talking openly and honestly to each other, if we are able to help our kids understand this stuff… I am seeing the seeds that I planted in my three- and five-year-olds way back when showing up now in how they observe their peers, interactions, and relationships and even in the budding dating relationships I have seen, and the decisions that they’ve made based on those things. So, one of the things I got permission to share from my daughter, and she didn’t even remember saying this when I checked back with her… It was a little while ago now and I was asking her – oh, gosh, I don’t even remember how the conversation started, but essentially she told me that when she is ready to start having sex, she wants to find somebody that she feels perfectly comfortable with, and like a really deep friendship with them. I was like, that’s interesting. Why do you say that? And she said, because I get the sense that sex is awkward and I want to be totally comfortable with somebody, you know, with somebody that I can be awkward with. And I’m like, oh my god. That is a level of maturity that I did not have about this topic. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. [DR. LANAE]: So, it’s these seeds that we plant when they’re young, they do pop up later, but possibly in ways that we didn’t even anticipate them to grow. I’ve heard many times this idea that when you teach kids about sex, they’re just going to go out and do it. [VERONICA]: Mm hmm. Amen. [DR. LANAE]: And I have been told that too, and yet I’ve taught my kids about sex. I have sent them through the Our Whole Lives, the Unitarian Universalist Church program Our Whole Lives, which is an amazing program, but it’s all about sex, love, relationship, dating, all that stuff. And that story I just told you about my daughter and her decision now. Like, that’s pretty advanced. That’s very different from oh, I just want to go out and have sex now. [VERONICA]: Bingo. Well, you’ve armed her with the tools that she needed to provide that level of consent, to provide that level of communication, and even respect for her own body? You know, I mean, it’s a totally different level because she now can go into the world and say, it’s not a rush. It’s not because I, you know, this boy approached me and I really like him and I want to impress him, so I will go ahead and kiss him even though I really don’t want to, I’m really not ready. Or I will go ahead and maybe fall into whatever my friends tease me about, you know, because they’re already having sex. And I don’t have to do those things because they’re doing them. They’re doing them because they’re not educated. I know what I want. I know my body, I’m aware of what I can get. And so, until I can get it, I am not compromising my worth for anything less than that. So, heck yeah. Heck yeah. [DR. LANAE]: There was also, I got divorced when the kids were… right around the time I went back to school to study sexuality, and I dated, and I didn’t introduce the kids to the people I dated unless I thought there was something potentially long term. And after like the second person I had dated, where they did meet the person, my daughter came to me and said she had a list of things she learned from my failed dating experiences which was pretty eye opening and humbling at the same time. And at the time, you know, I don’t tell them everything. I filter. I mean, it actually ended up being a really good experience for me also, being ready to have kids that would date and have like a more recent experience so that I could relate to what they would soon be going through themselves. So yeah, it was interesting. It was a really interesting insight that she had. I wrote it as a blog actually. She contributed. I think it’s called ‘Things I’ve learned from my mom’s unsuccessful dating experiences’. [VERONICA]: I appreciate that you have those blogs in your book, too. I was reading them, and I remember you had a conversation. You were there, getting tested, and you’re having a conversation with your daughter and, you know, the phlebotomist coming in and you just being so open and honest, and the phlebotomist telling you, I wish I would have had that conversation because I was pregnant – I believe she was like, 14 years old. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah, she was young. [VERONICA]: She was young. And it was just like, oh my god, how powerful is that? For us, you know, at any point in time, for us to be open and honest and sharing all of these things. Yeah, just kudos to you for having that conversation because it gave me that insight and just again, validated that this is really a mindset shift than anything else. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. Well, and yeah, it does feel super edgy hearing you say, taking your kid to an STI test. Yeah, I mean, it is a real aspect of life as a person who dates. And it is an important part of any person, to any person’s practice, to be able to go and get tested, and know their status. So, you’re not out there doing things with people who you don’t know what their STI status is. I mean, I want to establish that as something that is good for their sexual health. I mean, I talk about doing genital self-exams, you know, making sure that you know how your parts feel, how they look, knowing if there are any changes… [VERONICA]: Irregularities, absolutely. [DR. LANAE]: And you go a year between doctor visits, if you do go once a year, and you’re expecting your doctor who sees hundreds if not thousands of vaginas, or vulvas, between your visits, to remember what yours looks like. So, it’s like, doing your own genital self-exam is not a sexual thing – it is a health thing. And being able to know how your breasts feel. What the vulva looks like, and make sure there’s no irregularities or changes that occur. And heaven forbid if there are, you are equipped with the right words to be able to go to your doctor and say, this is fact XYZ, and then you can get the help you need. There was a book I used to give my students – we used to review this book; I think it’s called Manhood. It’s a picture book that has a bunch of different penises, and there was one story in there where a young man was, quote unquote, having a scratch down there, and he noticed a lump in his testicle. A lump in the scrotum, didn’t know which testicle, but lump in the scrotum, and it was about the size of a pea. And he kinda went into denial mode and was like oh, okay, not gonna think about it. Nine months later, it was three times the size. And you know, so when you feel these things, you absolutely have permission to go to your doctor and say, I noticed this thing. They can tell you if it’s something or not. And if it’s something, you can get it taken care of right away. Heaven forbid that something like that grow or metastasize or whatever. You can get it checked out and taken care of ASAP. There’s no shame in knowing what your parts feel like, knowing what your status is. All those things are just health things. Same thing to teach your kids that. [VERONICA]: Yes, this is all part of the talk. Like you said, it’s not just penises and vaginas. It goes so much further. This is a true educational lesson. It’s a true educational life lesson. Not only for our kids, but for us too. And to have those type of conversations are so important, so important, and to be able to go ahead and arm your children with the tools necessary to go to their physicians and have these conversations confidently. Because I’m going to tell you right now, I remember going to my first annual visit and it’s like, okay, wait a minute, can I just keep my legs crossed the entire time? And they’re like, well, that defeats the purpose. So yes, and I wasn’t aware of my body. I didn’t know what was and wasn’t okay. And so, I’m so glad that you said that; I’m so glad that you touched on that. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah, I have a friend who’s an OB-GYN and she said that they don’t care if you have shaved or they don’t care if your toenails aren’t done like, just go. Don’t worry, just go. [VERONICA]: Yes, please. Alright, so wrapping up, I always ask these two questions. What are you doing right now to live the life you want to live? [DR. LANAE]: Talking about this stuff; doing podcasts like this. I do believe that this is my purpose in life. To help people realize that it is not as bad as we’ve been told. Doing this work. [VERONICA]: There you go. Okay, second question. What advice would you give to the mom who feels stressed and disconnected, if she was standing right in front of you? What advice would you give her? [DR. LANAE]: Stressed and disconnected? Well, for the stress part, I mean, I’m a sexologist, I’m going to say masturbate. [VERONICA]: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yes. [DR. LANAE]: Because we’re told that sex relieves stress, right? But if you look at the study that actually was the study that they looked at – leukocytes and white blood cell counts – it was a group of like 11 German men who masturbated. And after they masturbated, X amount of time after their white blood cells increased. So, it’s not about having sex, specifically, but to me, it’s about masturbation or at least orgasming. And I know a lot of hetero partnered women don’t always have successful… [VERONICA]: Girl, we need to have, yes, we need to have a whole ‘nother episode based off of this. Yes, yes, and yes. [DR. LANAE]: So, masturbate. For yourself, for your health, for your stress. For you. [VERONICA]: Yes, yes. Absolutely. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah and it will help you feel connected. [VERONICA]: Heck yeah. Okay covered both of them. So, I understand you have a free giveaway for our listeners. [DR. LANAE]: Yeah. So well, I have a few – one that’s just regular on my website. You can get it if you just go to my website which is themamasutra.net – at the very bottom I have something called Touch Lab and it’s a tool that you can download to play with your partner. So that one’s more about pleasure for yourself, and your partner. But the one for moms specifically, I have a free chapter of the book that I offer, and I can send that to you for the show notes. But it’s, yeah, a free chapter of the book. Hopefully, that’ll give you a little taste of my position. If you’ve been listening to this, you know already, but it’ll give you a little taste of what’s in the book. And hopefully that’s something that you’ll seek out. And even, if you buy the book at the very back of that book, there’s another freebie, which is a conversation starters freebie. So, get the book, go to the website, download that freebie. [VERONICA]: Get the book. [DR. LANAE]: You have the conversations. Yeah, that’ll help you have those conversations that are awkward and difficult, but, you know, they’ll be eye opening for yourself to think through like, what would I say if…? [VERONICA]: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I’m gonna back that up with definitely get the book. Like I said, in the beginning, I had my own insecurities, I had my own, just, whatever I’ve learned in my past and reading through it and really educating myself and again, I’m a therapist. So, I talk about sex, I’ve ran group sessions for sex addiction, I ran group sessions involving sex and so it’s like, oh, I totally got this. She’s not gonna teach me anything. And then I read it and I was like, okay, wait a minute, totally different. I really enjoyed it. Absolutely, absolutely. Where can we find you? [DR. LANAE]: Okay, so you can find me everywhere on social media as themamasutra. And my website, like I said, themamasutra.net. Yeah, I’m usually on Facebook. But yeah, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram. My Instagram is kind of a mess, but… I don’t have like a nice, pretty look and feel just yet; it’s like a smattering of all kinds of sex related call outs and things like that. Interesting articles and such. [VERONICA]: Sold already, sold already. Well, thank you so much for being on this show. This was amazing. [DR. LANAE]: Thank you so much for having me and inviting me. [VERONICA]: Absolutely. You know, we’re gonna have to do another one. [DR. LANAE]: I’m up for it. [VERONICA]: We’ll definitely have to do another one. All right, ladies. I hope you’re having an amazing day. Until next time, bye. What’s up, ladies? Just want to let you guys know that your ratings and reviews for this podcast are greatly appreciated. If you love this podcast, please go to iTunes right now and rate and review. Thank you, guys. Many women lose their own identity in the shadow of being a mom and a wife. We are a community of women who support each other. We leave perfectionism behind to become empowered and unapologetic. I know you’re ready for the next steps. If you want to become empowered and unapologetic, get my free course, “Unapologetically Me,” over at empoweredandunapologetic.com/course. This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guests, are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.