So how do you turn ‘magazines’ into an opportunity to teach your child something important.
Teachable moments should be your Number 1 strategy for sex education!
Learn more about what a teachable moment is.
[00:00:00] How do you turn a magazine into a teachable moment? Let’s find out.[Music].
[00:00:12] Hi, I’m Cath Hak from Sex Ed Rescue. Sex Ed Rescue is a channel where I talk about all things to do with growing up and hopefully, I can even help you get more comfortable with talking to your kids about sex education.
Now, magazines are great for talking to your kids about lots of things because when you see them, they have lots of information on the front cover. They write headlines to grab your attention and draw you in. Since I don’t buy them, the only ones we have in our house are the ones that my husband buys. Other than that, we might get a free magazine in our mailbox, sex education magazines, and mostly the ones you see in the doctor’s waiting room or the ones you see as you’re leaving the shops.
Magazines are readily available everywhere and the covers usually have some sort of message about sex; someone having an affair, someone getting married, someone being pregnant, someone wearing something sexy. Because of this, they provide great information to have a conversation with your children. For example, you might have a cover of a scantily dressed woman, or what I call soft porn. So, it’s not explicitly pornography but instead the people depicted are wearing very suggestive clothing.
[00:02:08] You can have a conversation about how those people may be dressed. For example, you could ask, ‘Why is that woman dressed in nearly nothing? Is that appropriate? Do you think that it’s okay for those magazines to be sitting there? What would people think when they see that? How does that make you feel? Is that how people should dress normally? What would you do if someone walked past you now dressed like that?’ You can use this to have a conversation about appropriate clothing and messages that clothing can give people.
Look, I’m not going to get into the debate. In Australia, there’s a huge argument about if a woman wants to dress in very minimal clothing and walk down the street, if it’s fine, and if she shouldn’t get raped or sexually abused because of it. So, I’m not going to get into that. But I think when we have children, we should talk about what’s socially appropriate and the message clothing could give others.
[00:03:13] Other conversations you can have is about pregnancy. So, if there’s a pregnant person on the front cover, you can ask if your child knows how babies are made. You don’t have to talk about it right there, but you can point them out to your children. Say things like, ‘Oh, look at those magazines and all the pictures on them. I wonder what they’re selling?’ Use this to lead on a conversation when you get home. When you do get home, you can bring them up again by saying, ‘Do you remember how I pointed out those magazines to you? Well, one of the people in the pictures had a big tummy, and they were pregnant. Do you know what that means?’ By pointing out a picture of a pregnant person, you can start a conversation about how babies are made. Often, magazines talk about affairs as well. The latest one I’ve heard of was between Prince Charles and Sarah Ferguson. By using these two, you could talk about what an affair means, about relationships and commitment, and how lots of magazines talk about sexual behavior that might not match your values.
A lot of the magazines will talk about cricket stars, or even celebrities having sex with countless women. You could use that to have conversations about what is appropriate with your children. The best age to start using magazines as teachable moments is around the age of twelve. My daughter is about that age, and even though we talk about it I’ll still sugar coat the information. So, instead of giving her lots of details and information, I just give her very basic ideas.
‘What’s an affair?’ My daughter might ask, and I’ll tell her, ‘Well, an example of an affair is if your dad and I lived together and your dad might have sex with someone else outside of our relationship.’ I can describe it like that, so I don’t have to get into the details of why people have an affair, what it means, and that sort of stuff. Keep it simple until they get older and want more information.
[00:05:06] It’s like when your child asks where milk comes from. If they’re younger, you say, ‘Milk comes from the bottle,’ or, ‘Milk comes from cows.’ And they’ll accept it. But, as they get older, they’ll ask more questions. ‘Yeah, but where’s the cow? There’s no cow in our backyard, so how does the milk get from the cow to the bottle?’ Then, as they ask more questions, you give them more answers. You need to remember that when kids ask questions, we need to talk about it in a way they can understand.
But this is a topic for older children. So, when talking to my nine-year-old son, I might mention some of the images or headlines, but I wouldn’t talk about affairs with him. Instead, I’d probably talk to him about pregnancy and how babies are made. If the kids were even younger, I wouldn’t point out the magazines to them.
[00:06:10] But, as I said before, there are lots of opportunities to talk to kids about sexualized messages, appropriate clothing, and many other things. I’m sure you could find lots of teachable moments depending on what’s on the front cover.
Okay, I hope that helps. Cheers.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.