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For Release: October 20, 2009
Contact:  Pamela Williams
Office of Communications 
(405) 271-5601

Be An “Askable” Parent

“Let’s Talk Month” is recognized each October as a time for Advocates for Youth and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Child and Adolescent Health Division to encourage parent/child communication about sexuality.

“We recognize that parents are the best sexuality educators for their children and they want to do a good job but may not always understand how to explain things. Studies have shown that when asked, children say they do want sex education from their parents or legal guardians because they trust them,” said OSDH Child & Adolescent Health Director James Marks.

“You can be an ‘askable’ parent, a caring parent, and a wise counselor by explaining to your children some basic messages about individual growth and change and how everyone is unique,” Marks emphasized. “Discuss that everybody’s body is private and deserves respect. Explain that sexuality is a beautiful gift that should be handled wisely.”

“Let's Talk Month” emphasizes the importance of communication between adults and youth in helping young people develop responsible attitudes and behaviors about sexuality. Below are a few ideas on how you can begin to open dialogue about human sexuality and your family’s values and beliefs:

  • Listen more than talk.
  • Focus on behaviors, not persons.
  • Negotiate and compromise or at least consider other views.
  • Encourage an open exchange of ideas.
  • Foster the young person’s decision-making ability.
  • Encourage and receive questions.
  • Admit if you don’t know the answer then find out the answer and share it.
  • Share your family values and beliefs with your children.
  • Explore feelings.
  • Show agreement and support often.
  • Keep a sense of humor.
  • Be clear about expectations.
  • Include an article about “Let's Talk Month” in your newsletter or bulletin.
  • Sponsor a parent-child communication-training program at your school.
  • Provide parents with resources.
  • Encourage your school board member, administrators, teachers, nurse, and counselors to attend training programs in child/adolescent health and sexuality.
  • Suggest that parents leave an "invitation to talk" in their child's lunch, bedroom, on a mirror, or any other place the child will find it.
  • Ask local civic organizations to sponsor an event that will promote child health and parent-child communication.
  • Encourage local churches and other faith organizations to participate in promoting “Let's Talk Month” activities in your area.
  • Start a "make a date" campaign and schedule family time to sit down and talk together.

For more suggestions, see the “Let’s Talk Month Planning Guidebook”  at http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/.  The guidebook contains organizing tips, selected activities, funding ideas, sample forms, and materials to help communities plan activities that promote parent-child communication about sexuality.

For additional information and resources, contact the OSDH Child and Adolescent Health Division, Maternal and Child Health Service at (405) 271-4471 and ask about adolescent health programs.

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