The Talk

What Your Kids Need to Hear From You About Sex

by Sharon Maxwell (Avery, New York, 2008).


Sex education is a very complex subject - too complex for the average, busy parent to study and become an expert at. This book is very biased but it's useful to show you just how complicated the subject is. For example, well-meaning parents may talk about the biology of sex and their own preferences (values) as to what's acceptable or not, but they usually avoid the sensitive subjects of sexual desire and sexual pleasure. Parents who do that are trying to deceive and manipulate their children through omission, and thereby risk losing children's trust.

The book's bias against the sexual revolution (possibly a marketing decision), leads to several inaccuracies and self-contradictions. For example, she claims that boys and girls don't have spontaneous erections before puberty, and "99% of 10-year-olds" have never experienced an "inkling" of sexual desire (p. 36). Was she talking about the human species? She also advises telling a child to say "no" to being touched, but on the very next page says "It's never OK for someone to force what they want on someone else." (p. 49). Aren't parents forcing children to do what they want by telling them to say "no"?

It would take a 10-page review to describe all the inaccuracies and contradictions in this book, but there are some useful insights - especially when talking about teens. For example, learning self-discipline requires practice; teens have to discover many things for themselves rather than merely accept parents' advice on faith. The author acknowledges there is a "culture war" between people who have different values, so I recommend reading this book under the heading: "Know your enemies." Anybody out there in favor of abstinence-only driver's education?