Last week she did an awesome segment about helping Moms talk to their children (especially their daughters) about sex. She first met with the very nervous mom and then they brought in the 10 year old daughter. I thought they way they talked to that young girl was perfect. Now, I don't agree with all that Dr. Berman had to say, but I absolutely agree with her overall viewpoints and think her way of talking to people is fantastic.
A brief disclaimer and some self disclosure - as a Christian, I believe that sex should be reserved marriage. I know that is not always a popular notion these days - it may seem unrealistic and naive. But I'm 29 and not married... suffice to say, I know a little bit about what I speak. I have also seen too many of my friends' self esteem, body image, and relationships suffer tremendously because they did not (and do not) know or understand some the information Dr. Berman talked about. I also understand (sometimes far too well for my own liking) the realities of the world we live in today where children are preyed upon by those that should be protecting them and all kids are growing up too fast. Which is why I feel comfortable agreeing with so much that Dr. Berman had to say.
For example - I absolutely agree that we need to STOP calling our body parts by made-up names. I like the term va-jay-jay as much as the next Grey's Anatomy fan! But when we teach our children those silly words at a young age, we teach them to be embarrassed to talk about their bodies. I also agree that we need to be teaching children the mechanics of sex much earlier than I think most of my friends and I learned (I was 13). This comes from someone who has worked with MANY sexually abused children. Perhaps if we a) teach children proper body-part names so that they can adequately describe things and b) teach children the basics of what sex is and who should be doing it, we would have less children falling prey to molestation and not knowing how to tell someone about it. Lastly, I absolutely agree that we need to be talking to our teenagers - girls for sure, preferably with boys too - about the feelings and emotions that go into having sex. First of all - I think they pick up pretty quickly from all the TV, movies, and music they listen too (not to mention their friends!) that sex feels good. But they aren't learning why it feels good (both physically or emotionally), or that it feels better when there are feelings and emotions that go into it, or that it feels even more amazing when you can feel secure and safe and truly committed. And, we too often don't really talk to our teenagers about what that even means!
Which is why I tuned into the
Despite all of Oprah's hullabaloo and dramatics, the discussion with the teens and Dr. Berman was absolutely stellar. She was never demeaning, never judgemental, never condescending and treated these two young people with the respect they crave as adolescents. She was also direct with them. A refreshing balance of providing information, leading them with reflective questions, and supporting their honest answers and feelings. (This is obviously that the social work training *grin*.) And you know what?
By the end of the show, that 14 year old girl was obviously thinking about some things she'd never thought of before today. While the boy felt that he was still ready to make that next step, she wasn't so sure. And rightfully so, as we know she is at higher risk of experiencing the most difficult consequences.
And, I'm not just talking about an STD or pregnancy. Even if you don't believe that waiting until marriage is imperative - talking to our daughters about the emotional ramifications of sex is still vital. Girls also are more likely to feel more emotional distress when a relationship ends - especially if they weren't prepared for it to begin with and even more if they don't have someone to turn to to help them sort out these feelings. If they are left to try to process all that is happened on their own they may come up with all kinds of reasons about why the relationship ended and what part they had in it. This can lead to a lifetime of trying to prove they are 'good enough' for the newest man in their life. And we know what can happen to those women (and their children) if they are constantly looking for affirmation and defining their self worth through a man or relationship.
While I think buying vibrators for teenagers goes a bit too far, I absolutely agree that we should be giving the most honest and open information we can to our children, teenagers, young adults, women, and boys/young men. (Its sad that our boys often get left out of the conversation all together - do we really have such low expectations for them??) Our children will not learn something just because we tell them to! We must teach them every aspect of how, where, who, when, and why! And when our children come to us with questions, ideas, concerns, or even having made decisions that we may not be happy with - we need to be talking to them the way Dr. Berman did today. Without assuming that they are 'just kids' and that 'we adults know best'. Even though that may be true! :)
Go to Oprah's Website to watch all the segments from both days - plus she's got some good tools for talking with children about sex that can be downloaded for personal/professional use.