This week we are talking about sex!
Join me for my enlightening conversation with Dr. Lori Reichel, a school health educator with 25+ years of working with children. She is a former National Health Education Professional of the Year and New York State Health Teacher of the Year and currently teaches full-time at the SUNY at Cortland. And if that wasn’t impressive enough, Lori is also the creator of the TALK Puberty app and a podcast titled "The Puberty Prof" to help equip parents and other caregivers to talk with children about puberty and other growing-up topics.
Lori shares with us that it’s not just about the mechanics of sex that we need to talk about, but we also need to discuss what a healthy relationship is, how to know, develop and sustain trust, and what love is.
Join us on our Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/reallifemomz/, where we can continue sharing resources and having conversations.
Dr. Lori Reichel website: https://www.lorireichel.com/
Real Life Momz website: https:/www.reallifemomz.com
Boys & Sex, Peggie Orenstein
Common questions children ask about puberty, By Lori Reichel
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Hi, welcome to Real Life Momz I'm your host, Lisa Foster, and Real Life Momz is a podcast about connecting moms through real conversations. I believe that moms have so much insight and knowledge, and we are powerful. And this week, I invited Dr. Lori Reichel. She has been a school health educator for over 25 years, working with children, and is the creator of the Talk Puberty app. She's also the host of the Puberty Prof. Today; Lori's helping me discuss the topic of sex and what we should be discussing with our kids.
Hi Lori. Welcome to Real Life Momz.
Hi Lisa. Thanks so much for having me today. It's so nice to meet you.
I'm excited about our topic. I'm a little bit nervous about our topic. Oh,
Well, you know, 'cause we're gonna discuss how to talk to our kids about sex and just everything that goes along with that. Well, maybe you're more comfortable, but as much as I think I'm comfortable with it, you know, I do have teenagers, and you know, as they're starting to explore this, um, you know, it gets a little, little bit hard to articulate what I'm trying to say, what I'm trying to ask, and how to help them. So I'm really excited to have this conversation with you.
Well, I'm excited too. Can I ask you a question? Sure you can. Before you start asking me questions. So do you think part of the hesitancy, like of this topic, is that it's kind of weird to see your kid because it's like as a sexual being cuz they're your kid? Right. And now they're growing up.
I think it's a two-parter. I think you, Yes. I think that's part of it. And I think the other part is I think there's a lot of, I don't wanna say negativity, but I wanna say negativity about, you know, sex and what age it's really appropriate for. Right. Cause like, I think as we grew up, um, at least when I grew up, I'm gonna put it out there, it's like you don't have sex till you're married. Right. But I know that is not really happening, you know, didn't happen for me. Put that out there. I don't think it's happening for my kids. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think that's why it's hard to talk about cuz I think there's this, you know, in my parent ear, people saying like, Oh, you know, you don't have sex to your, and you know, you're married or whatever.
And then, but my realistic side, which I am a mom that really is open and really communicates with my kids, my kids do tell me probably a lot more than most. It's kind of like, well, I know that's not gonna happen. I need to be there for my kid, whatever step of the way they're gonna be. And I want to be able to answer questions. So I think it's more of this like back and forth of am I doing the right thing?
And I know it's, it's difficult because it's like we wanna do best for kids. And there's also that fear that if we talk about it, it's going to encourage kids to do it more. It's more that we have to be real about it because what is betrayed in the media is not true. It is not; it is not. Um, the whole thing. Like I, I'm going to admit, I watch Grey's Anatomy, like the old, you know, the old shows and everything mm-hmm. <affirmative> and how they portray things like, kind of like very fast sexual encounters.
I look at that, and I go, Okay, wait a minute. If that happened, then they go and do an operation or something like that. There's it; it doesn't happen that way in real life because as somebody that has a vagina, I know that there are fluids that can potentially leak afterward, <laugh>, where, you know, it's like that kind of stuff.
So like what they're seeing is not real. Even like the first time you're with somebody, it's not like, Oh, that was the best. It's more for some of us, the person has to know our bodies for more pressure to happen. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we have to have these conversations about what really, really goes on. And I, to me, uh, as a, as a real person and then as this health educator, I, I say to people, you know, like the anticipation of having this perfect first time, it's not gonna be perfect.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> yet what you can have is a really nice memory. And that's what I wish for young people mm-hmm. <affirmative> that when you're doing things, you're not being coerced. You're, you're, you're with somebody you can trust. And that then leads to the discussion of, well, how do we even know we can trust someone?
And I love having this discussion. I've had it with younger people in middle school and high school, and then I have it with college folks. Like, how long do you know you can trust someone? Is it like a, you know, and sometimes I can connect like you and I right away we can start chatting and we have this nice connection mm-hmm. <affirmative> yet to truly know that you know, it's, it's just we're still in the honeymoon phase of meeting one another that that requires some time to pass. Because, and, and this is another thing we talk about in my health classes is that you know, you have to get to that stage of when people get a little bit more comfortable and they start passing gas.
If I say.
<Laugh>, <laugh> right then, then you're really comfortable.
Yeah. And it's like, okay, so people's true colors start coming out a little bit more. Yeah. So you, again, I wish for people for when they're engaging in things that they're cognizant, they're not under the influence of a substance, particularly the first times. Cause that doesn't allow for consent and for them to understand their bodies and to be able to communicate and that they don't have a regret that they look back and go, you know, that was actually nice.
Yeah. I love that so much. I'm, I'm gonna stop you for a second just so you can tell a little bit about yourself so that the listeners know a little bit more just about you and your background.
Well, I've been a school teacher. I, I worked, in New York on Long Island, the Island of Long in the Catholic school system with the grant program. And I worked with children in grades one through eight. And then I was hired in public school, in middle school. So I really covered, um, puberty for a lot of years. And then when, um, when I talked to the seventh and eighth and then eventually I worked in high school later on in my career, I talked a lot, lot about the, the topic of sex. Um, I also was an administrator for health and phys ed.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I, I went for my doctorate later in life because I was told by, uh, when I worked part-time at a university, my students were like, You gotta do this full-time. Cuz you get kids, you get how to talk with them, you get what they're going through.
Mm. And there are just realistic ways we can talk with young people and equip them with tools mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Because when we talk about sex ed, it's really not about all this, the stuff we get scared about. It's really about how can we teach communication skills, decision-making skills, self-management skills, and relationship management skills. It's really a life class. That's what health is supposed to be in 2022. So, um, I also have a podcast. I have the Puberty Pro podcast and I have it focuses on not just those physical changes of puberty, but other things we talk to kids about.
Like even the phrases that deal with sexual orientation and identity, gender. Um, we talk about some of the tougher things about, um, interpersonal violence. And I don't like talking about that yet. We have to because we have to be real. That stuff goes on and it's still going on. Um, so I have a podcast, I created a Talk puberty app and the talk B4 Sex app to create a tool for people to get together and talk before acting on something or, even going through puberty.
I'm a believer in having a conversation before an action occurs between two people. Yeah.
I love that. And I, I kind actually look at your app and um, I think it was talk B4 Sex app maybe. Was that what it's called?
Yeah. Yeah. There's one that's, it's called Before and I did it as a capital B. Yes. And then before,.
4 Sex. And that one I, and I'm not trying to be this old farty person of, um, you know, don't have sex. It's more I hear from young people that mm-hmm. <affirmative> sometimes there's this regret and Par a part of it is they're not sure how to start the conversation. Yeah. So I, I created the app so somebody can be like, they can download it. And I made sure too, I don't know if you know this about apps that if you get free apps, you're gonna get a lot of ads.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and because both of my apps refer to body parts, like the bulb of the penis, I don't want anything inappropriate to appear. Yeah. So a price had to be attached to it. So, so, a person can say, Hey, you know, why don't we check this app out? Isn't this ridiculous? Look at these questions. And they can make fun of the questions, but it leads to conversations. Yeah. And that's the purpose of the Talk B4 Sex app. And then the Talk Pubity app is, was actually created for parents and other caregivers so they can sit down with their kids even in the fourth and fifth grade, and say, Check this out.
What are some of the common questions that children ask that deal with all children or with most boys, and most girls? So again, it's trying to help people talk, start the conversation, and continue it.
Oh gosh. I have so many questions already and I'm also sitting here going, Oh my God, I should have done so much more talking to my kids. I thought I did.
Oh no. Ok. I have to say this to you Lisa and to listeners.
Yes. The reality is a lot of us didn't have this model.
Yeah. No, no, no, no. I did not have this modeled. Not at all.
Oh no. So it's kind of like where, and I believe that the next generations are gonna get better, but I also understand there's this disconnect that when it's your actual child, whether or not it's biological or an adopted or you know, stepchild, it's still sometimes challenging to have that conversation. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And part of it too for, for parents is we're afraid sometimes of what other parents are gonna think. Yeah,.
So we have all these barriers to get through, and we're doing the best we can with kids. We, we are, we are. And so, like our parents did the best they could. And it's funny, my parents now, they'll be like, I can't believe you talk to kids about sex. I'm like, Yeah, but I'm not like, it's nothing pornographic that I'm talking about. It's about life skills. So.
How do you start the conversation? How, and, and actually when.
Actually what we're, what we're trying to do in the year 20 22, 20 23 is when children are younger, allow the conversation to happen naturally. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So if a child even asks the question about um, like if a, um, somebody's pregnant again and you know, have the baby get in there. Yeah. That's basic. That's basic biology. And there's a lot of, uh, sex educators that say, and you know, answer the question is biology. Um, and, but other things about me being very cognizant about how we even love our bodies.
Cuz that's part when we go through these changes, especially puberty body image is huge. And we know that as kids get older from a certain age, they're very cognizant of their body's changing. And if we comment on our bodies to be like, Oh you know what, I'm being too hard on myself. So those are very subtle messages that deal with sexuality, um, that we can just model for our children.
But when a child sees something or when we see something and say, Huh, they're kissing on tv, what do you think about that? Um, if you're seeing something with animals, cuz some people that live on farms, they're gonna see stuff with animals that you don't always think about. You know, that's how baby animals are created. So I would say a really, um, an important thing for us as adults to remember is as much as we hope that our kids will come to us and ask questions mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>, they don't know how to do that. If we have not modeled for that, modeled them for them. So when a parent has said to me, Well, my kid doesn't come up and ask me questions. Well, you do, you ask questions about your, you know, like to your child, do you model like, Hey, do you wanna go get a book on puberty or pick up a book on puberty and show it to your child and say, Hey, you know, why don't we read this together? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So it's that kind of stuff that we can do.
And then be very cognizant and it, oh, let me back up too. When we talk about body parts, attempt to use the actual names of the body parts, the, if I say medically accurate names, uh, what we see is that when we, like for a child, if we go, well that's a peepee, it begins to send children a message that we can't say these body parts, we feel uncomfortable and we don't take 'em seriously versus Oh yeah, that's your penis. You know mm-hmm. <affirmative> and if there's a dad Yeah. Dad has a penis too.
If he has a penis, so the more we have these nicknames and, it just demonstrates that we're not comfortable.
<Affirmative>, and I'm not saying you can't ever use slang, but it's this, um, like if you compare it to your ear, this is an ear. What slang term do you have for the ear?
Yeah. But we have how many slang terms for breast? Yeah. For penis, for vulva, for vagina. And some of them are very derogatory. Mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>. Yeah. Cause I think people think it's inappropriate, you know like it's almost like a curse word. Right. It's inappropriate to say. Um, so I think that's why a lot of people use something else.
And I think it's weird that sometimes in movies they have like a little child portraying that they're like, Daddy has a penis. And they say it really loud like, Oh, sh sh sh mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's like, why is that always portrayed? Because they do have a.
A penis. That's ok. It's a body part. The child is knowing that it's their body.
And it's funny cuz what you were saying about talking to your children about puberty or maybe getting a book. One of the things I did with my daughter, I feel that I missed the boat on my son a little bit because he's younger. You know, the second child let's face facts, it's a little less hands-on. Um, and I, I guess expected my husband to take part in that a little bit more. And I don't think it happened. Um, but that's okay. But my daughter, I took her, um, and we went and got the American Girl Doll book. It has like, all about Yeah.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so we got that, and I was like, Oh, we're gonna go buy a book today. And she was young. She was probably like eight. So she, it was, it was early. Um, and we got this book and I, we went into the car and I remember hearing like, you know, if you're in the car there's nothing else to do.
Right. So she kinda strapped in the car mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you're gonna have a conversation. So we went through the book and she had questions and then it got to a point where I think she was just like, You know what, that's enough information and then we just stop. But I felt like that was really cool because it did open the door to just knowing that she can come to talk to me about anything without judgment and that I will give them the best answer that I can or will go Google or get a book.
Yep. And that's modeling, like going to a reliable resource, like kids health.org has a lot of, um, update and information and then there's maze.org, they have some video clips, uh, on a variety of sexual health topics. But the kid's health, um, very age appropriate for like those preteens and then for teens. Um, but yeah, to go to a reliable resource and I love that you the American Girl book, and they have more than one these days. It's a lot of young people love those books. Yeah.
And it's a great tool where, you know, both the parent, the caregiver, and the child can look at it. The other, um, for, for boys, at times, we didn't have a lot of books, and now we're having more and more being written. So it's really great. And some of them, as I would, if I, if I had a son, I'd be like, Okay, which one do you like align with the most? Cause some might not wanna read so much. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I remember, oh, about 20 years ago there was a book and it was thick and it was like all this information and I wouldn't wanna read it as an adult.
I wanna have like a little bit of a diagram and then maybe a little comic strip or something like that mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So we do have more of those books for children overall, which is really neat to see.
Yeah, that is true. Cause that, that was the thing; I couldn't necessarily find it for my son either. I was like, Where, where's the American Girl Doll book for boys <laugh>? You know? I was like, ok. One thing I keep hearing you say, um, in talking is, you know, the loving of their bodies, you know, as they're changing and developing and even, you know, just loving their bodies. And I, I, I mean, I experience this with my daughter, um, and you know, my son does this too, where, you know, they'll things and I'm like, that is so not true. Whether, you know, I'm ugly, or I'm, you know, fat or whatever, you know, whatever it is that they're saying.
And I'm like, but you're not, I mean, not at all. You're not, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you're just, why can't you see yourself like what everybody else sees you? And they can't. They really can't. They have a whole distorted image of their bodies.
And it's the social media stuff cuz we're always seeing this, this like perfect stuff. Um, I'm really glad when certain clothing stores portray actual people, not, these other people. Um, and there's also some video clips that I, that I, I showed to young people about how things are morphed. So when you see a picture in a magazine, that's not the true picture. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, even in old pornographic magazines, they put makeup on people to make things appear differently. So things are morphed.
So, um, which I wanna say, and I hope this is okay for your audience, that what we're finding, um, because kids are having access to so much online that they're even being very critical about their reproductive parts, about their vulvas, about their penises. And they're like, But my, like my lab is not supposed to look like this. You know, this is what is shown in this. And it's like, no, no, everybody, there's no perfect set of labia. Everybody.
Differently, it's different. So, what's interesting, and I'm sorry to say this, Lisa. Some, um, young women, when they have sexual partners, sometimes their partners will say, Yeah, your lip lips are too fat. The labia area. And my response to that is that that is not your partner. Nobody has the right to tell you this is a physical part of your body to love. And we all have different; we have different shapes and sizes and stuff like that. And I like the book by Heather Karina.
She has a book, I think it's called S E X, and it's written more for teenagers than young adults. And there's one page that has illustrations of a variety of genitalia. And when my college students first see it, they're like; I was shocked. But then it's like, wait a minute, wait, we all look differently even down there.
So why do we put ourselves down? And part of it is because of this constant message, you know, that we get in the media that you have to look this way, and it's not true.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, that's something I never even thought of talking to you about. I realize it's funny cuz I'm like, well, I feel like I've been open with my daughter at least and talked to her and um, and she has come to me, but <laugh> I was like, well, we haven't discussed any of this stuff. You know, Um, so interesting. It's interesting there is so much more.
There is, but part of it, like I'm, I'm very fortunate that I can connect with young people, and they're like, Yeah, I was told this. They might tell me this, you know, in a small group or one on one or in a classroom. And we do like confidential stuff. Not anything that would be abusive cause that has to be reported. But they, they talk about some of the realities of mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how some of their peers even will make comments. And it's, it's unfortunate. So we have to be honest with kids. Um, and as, as much as we can as adults to say, you know, sometimes I do have a challenge with my body, but I'm so grateful for it.
We train future elementary educators not to talk about, Oh, I gotta go on a diet, or I'm trying to lose five pounds in front of elementary school kids because we don't want young kids to constantly hear us adults with our own issues. If you have a little junk in your trunk, have a little junk in your trunk.
Yeah. Be proud.
Yeah. If I don't, Did you see the movie, um, e Pray Love?
Oh, you love that movie,
That scene when she is eating pizza mm-hmm. <affirmative> in Rome. Yeah. And the other woman's like, Oh, I gained five pounds, you know, I, my jeans don't fit me. And that main character that Julia Roberts plays, she goes, you know, when you've, when you've been naked with, with a partner, and she's like, I haven't been with many men or whatever. And she's like, Well anytime you've moved your clothing, have they complained? Yeah. <laugh>, no, they're happy. There's a naked woman there. And that's the reality.
Sexy is loving your body. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and being in your body and maybe doing a little dance or whatever it is. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it's appreciating what you have versus trying to be perfect because, and I don't know if I'm talking too much here, but we, there's even a rise in plastic surgery in the genital area. Oh my. Yep. And there are even some young people that are requesting it and some parents that are, I don't know where they're getting the money for it, but it's like, why, why?
And part of it is because of all the messages people have seen in porn.
Can I ask you, because you have so, so much experience with kids and talking to them, um, what are young kids asking about sex? Like what are they coming to you with?
Well, it depends upon the age. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Cause certainly younger kids, they just, they're kids, and they just wanna know if they see something like, you know, what is that about? Um, like for puberty, they, when we talk about body changes and then the hygiene skills of how to take care of those body changes and then the social changes and stuff. Um, kids that age are very curious about, well if, if it's somebody that's gonna have a menstrual cycle, they're very concerned about when they're gonna get a menstrual cycle. They're going to, you know, they're concerned they're gonna get it when they're wearing white pants, and they have a male teacher, and they don't have a pad or anything.
So it's a lot of reassuring of, you know, your school's gonna have your back, you know, nobody's gonna know unless you pointed out.
That's one thing they'll ask about. Um, for boys, they'll ask about what dreams, cuz some of them are not sure about what that is, and some of them think they're urinating in their bed. And then they'll talk about things like, you know, how to hide an erection, those sudden erections mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they'll even talk about that in, like seventh or eighth grade. And then really when, when they get into that seventh, eighth-grade high school, they aren't curious about sex. But to back it up, first, they really wanna know how you get somebody to like you; they want that relationship stuff.
And then how can you even, like, get somebody to hang out with you? And then how do you, some of them even want wanna know how you break up with someone? And these are relationship skills. Um, and then regarding other things about sexuality, they are curious. Like certainly, when we talk about sexual orientation and gender, some kids are like, what are all those? L G B T plus things mean because if you don't identify as such, that's confusing. And now you have to realize you're, you're talking to a health educator that I use, I was trained to do more scare tactics, but over the years, I'm like, I'm not doing scare tactics with kids because I don't want them to be fearful about having sex.
I want them to be prepared for sex.
And so I'm, I don't go all the STIs are I the general stuff. The main thing and this is what kids wanna know too, the main thing that will go over is how do you prevent pregnancy, and prevent getting an STI. If you think you got one, what do you do? They also wanna know how do you like talk to people about this stuff. And it's like, well, let's practice, let's even practice just saying body parts or let's practice about, let's create a dialogue that if you were going to do something with someone, how do you do.
That? Is it teens that are starting this, or is it younger? Is it pre-teens?
It depends upon who the person is. It depends upon where you're at. The youth risk behavior survey will tell us there is a percentage of people that do engage in sexual intercourse before they graduate high school. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. There are some people that do engage before the age of 13. Wow. Oh. So they do. Yet the reality is sometimes, like if, if it's a single parent, maybe they have a lot of partners. We have to remember the kids like are seeing this modeled. So they have this curiosity mm-hmm.
<Affirmative> and maybe they just have a lot of free time and, uh, so they are curious the actual activity. And this is what we do in the health class. We go over the real statistics to say that, no, not everybody is having sex no. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> intercourse. I would say the youth risk behavior survey is like one out of two people. Typically they'll admit that, on the survey, sometimes it's a little less, and sometimes it's a little higher depending upon the year.
Now oral and anal sex certainly has changed from when I was growing up because oral sex is perceived as not as intimate. And then anal sex has gotten increasingly popular.
Why do you think that is?
Part of that is, I'm sorry, it's about porn, and I'm not anti-porn. I know that there are adults that can watch it and everything, but kids are being exposed to stuff. Wow. And what they're being exposed to online, that kind of imagery usually is more; it's more, if I say violent, it's more, um, ah, uh, it's can be very, uh, like for heterosexual sex, the female might be held down. Uh, some of the terminologies that are used, um, and anal sex, has shown a lot.
So you feel that kids are learning from porn. Absolutely. Wow. Wow. Yeah. Another conversation I need to have with my kids. <laugh>, but yes. Wow. Okay. There's never thought about that because it is, it's a, you know, that isn't necessarily the type of sex I would hope for my kids when they're ready.
Yeah. I mean, there's, it's called Fifth Base by some kids. Oh,
Wow. Fifth base. I'm so old. <laugh>. No. Oh my, Okay.
It's, it's more, And if you look at stuff with Peggy Orenstein, she has done research when she's talk with, um, with teenagers and then, uh, college folks. And she has a book called Girls and Sex and then a book called Boys and Sex. And they talk about the realities of what they've seen, what they're exposed to. And anal sex has gotten more popular with heterosexuals mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, activity with younger people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And like for, and I'll admit to this, and I, and I've said this to my college students, that, you know, if you're a person with vulva, a lot of us were not taught that we have to figure out our pleasure.
And I, I'll say it like this, if somebody has a penis, they usually can figure out what their pleasure is. Right. Because they're touching their penis to urinate mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>. And then when somebody else touches their penis, they're like hitting the jackpot like, Oh my God, I don't have to touch somebody else's. That feels great. And, for the a person touching, like if you touch a penis the first time, you don't even know what you're doing. But like the guys like, Woohoo. Now us with, with a vulva, what we're taught is, okay, you have to wipe after you go to the bathroom and wipe from the front to the back. This is really weird to do cuz it seems like it goes against gravity in a way. But we're not, it's not like a pleasure thing that if we touch, even if we hit the Clitorial area, we don't necessarily get a pleasing sensation.
So it's like, well, what does please us? And we have to figure it out. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> how we have to figure it out is exploration.
But we still have this, this connotation that if you touch your body parts, then that's kind of slutty. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but it's not it's exploration. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So when we have a partner, the partner, like, and it's really interesting cuz if you talk to women biological female, somebody with a, a vulva doesn't know what brings them pleasure. Their partner can try to figure it out for them, but mm-hmm. <affirmative> for something that owns the equipment, that would make more sense. Like, what does bring me pleasure and then I can tell my partner or my partner can help me.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But we haven't also been told you have the right to talk to the person because talking sexually sometimes implies that you're a SLUT or a hoe. And that's not true. It's more like when there's this whole big thing going on right now about talking about consent mm-hmm.
<Affirmative>. And we're starting with younger cuz it's not just about sex. We wanna equip kids when they're younger that, like, if I got a new toy and my parents like, well go share it with Lisa. No, it's my toy. I have first to like, I wanna enjoy this toy by myself, and then I could share it with my friend Lisa. So it's kind of like I'm allowed to have this boundary of right now it's mine, and oh, uncle wants to hug me, I don't wanna hug him right now. I have the right to say no. And if we force kids like, well, it's your uncle, go ahead.
It's basically telling kids you're gonna have to do stuff sometimes and you're just gonna have to be a good kid. This where it's not, look we, we have the right to stand up and go, No, I don't wanna, I don't wanna be touched. And we can say that at any time in our life.
Yeah. That's so important. I, I remember this conversation with my kids cause my husband was like, No, go hug. You know, uncle such and such. And it was really a friend that we just called uncle, you know? And um, and my kid was like, No, I don't want to. And I remember hearing that, you know, like, don't make your kids hug other people if she does not want to let her learn that. That's okay to say no. But yeah, I thought that that's a really important piece. I think.
Now I want to, uh, tell you and your listeners about if you really wanna get a sense of stuff that's still going on, do a Google search on YouTube for the video clip from eighth grade. The movie is called Truth or Dare. Mm. And it's the scene where there's a heterosexual young couple in a car; they're just kind of hanging out dark out. And the guy, he's probably 16 ish in this, he's like, I wanna take out off my shirt.
I'm hot. So he takes off his shirt, and this girl is sitting there, and she's looking down, and she's looking very passive. And he's like, How about we play truth or dare? And she's like, Okay, truth. And he's like, Come on, I wanna give you a dare. And she's like, Okay. And he's like, Take off your shirt. And she's sitting there, and she's like, no, I don't want to. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. No, I don't want to. And she does what we hope she would do. But when you watch it, you get annoyed because you realize she's doing, she's acting in a way that a lot of us were taught.
We were taught to be the good kid and apologize for not doing what other people want us to do.
And I think it's a great video clip for a parent to talk with their kids and say, Let's watch this. And I said to the students, this, excuse my language; it pisses me off because I want her to feel comfortable about her decision. Not embarrassed cuz she was right for herself. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, when I've had young people watch this, and they're about to go teach, a lot of them are like, this actually still goes on, and you feel guilty when you say no. And I'm like, that's why we're gonna teach kids assertiveness skills.
Cause they, we, have the right to stand up for themselves.
Listening to you <laugh>. I feel like, you know, going into this talk, I was like, okay, talking about sex, we can do this, this, but there's so much more. Yeah. There's so much more to sex than the actual, like the sex part is actually easy, right? Like mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there are these components. Is this how you do it? It's everything else that seems to be actually so important to talk about. Like it's okay to say no, it's okay to stand up for yourself. It's okay. You know, like, love yourself. You know, you wanna have sex with a person that you trust.
You know? And what does trust mean? There's so much more to the conversation that I had no idea. No idea. Yeah.
And I'm even gonna say, like, cuz and I love talking honestly about sex. Like I believe in having young people be equipped to even ask the question. So after we do it, okay, are you gonna tell your friends? Am I gonna tell my friends? Because that's betrayed in the media all the time. But flat. Honestly, I don't want my partner to tell everybody what we're doing. That's between him and me. That's personal, that's private, and intimate. And so to have that conversation of, so what is the expectation afterward and is it gonna happen again?
Cause I know I met my partner later in life, and at a certain point before we did anything, I was like, We got, we gotta talk. And he was like, Okay. And, but we, we had a, I asked him a bunch of questions because I needed to feel comfortable in our relationship before anything progressed further.
And I love that. I love that you said we need to talk. I mean, that is something we should be teaching our kids, like also like how to talk to their partner Yep. About those expectations or, or anything. Like what, what would you, Yeah. What would you put into that conversation about what to tell our kids or talk to our kids about? Like what are the key, and what do those key conversations look like?
Well, it's, it's even, we can start off basic, and you had said that you saw the talk before sex app mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that actually is broken down into, you know, let's just talk about general questions about what is a healthy relationship, what are components of it. And there are no answers in that app. It's just to have a discussion because and if, you look up like the love languages. Some people perceive that healthy romantic relationships have like, you have to buy gifts all the time or you have to have a set of ears all the time.
Like we do have certain needs or wants in relationships. So even to define what we're hoping for, um, and then to say, you know, there's another part in that app that talks about sex and you know, what is sex really? You know, do, do you, if you and I, Lisa, who are gonna do something is anal sex, sex to us or oral sex is kissing sex.
Cause some just like, yeah, that's sex. So let's even talk about that. And then if we're gonna do something like there, there's just to have a logical, a logical conversation about what is it that I'm hoping for. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, it's kind of like, it's, it's interesting because when I go on vacation, I know that I have certain goals on vacation, and that includes, you know, relaxation and making sure we're spending money in a budget and stuff. And so, to me, putting that into like sexual relationships, it's the same thing.
Like why can't we talk honestly about expectations? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, why can't we talk about, you know, is this only gonna be a one-time thing? Is this, and are you telling me you love me now? You know, it's that whole, uh, paradise at the dashboard light song. Do you love me? Will you love me?
For forever? <laugh> I love that. I.
Love you right now. And it isn't, you know and realize that there are some girls that are doing this to guys too, and they're pressuring guys. And um, cuz we're hearing that sometimes a girl will tell a guy, If you don't do something, I'm gonna tell everybody you're gay. So to equip our kids to say, no, this is my decision, and I'll tell you a really great thing. And it's, it's can be difficult to do if you're not used to it to teach those refusal skills, especially changing the topic.
Because if you just say, like, if you ask me to do something, I'm like, Lisa, no. And I just end it there, and then I go, Hey, isn't there a football game on? Or Hey, we're only supposed to do this. Change the topic. That's.
A great, because if.
You just say assertively and then change this topic so you can get 'em off, and yeah. There will be some people that still try to egg you on and go enough ready enough already. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, to teach them that they have the right to do that. And it's, that's why the practicing, the practicing, you know, in class, I don't mind if they practice with puppets, but to, if a trial can say no to a parent for tours at times, then we can say, Okay, let's use this skill when you need to say no to others.
You know? Right. They're good at saying no to us, so let's Yeah. Let's practice practice those techniques. Right. Yep. Oh, that's so, uh, such great, great insight. That is such great insight. Um, yeah.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's important to Lisa that when we're talking to young people to have, you know, like to be realistic cuz you had said, you know, will your children wait until marriage or not? And even if you look at history, not everybody did that. They didn't wait until marriage. Right. So it was assumed people did, but it, it wasn't always happening. And now we have people getting married at older ages, so there's a higher probability that they will engage in sex before marriage. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> if, if they choose to. Um, so to really equip them with, you know, like, what then is your expectation even for your first time? What are you hoping for?
And so why, how can we make sure that you have a partner that can be that person for you mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And if you have a partner that then is hurtful to you come to me and we're gonna work on what we need to do for you to feel okay.
Right. And how to handle it. Um, certainly to equip young people about some of the sexual assault stuff that goes on. Um, that they, because um, we do unfortunately have some high rates in sexual, of sexual assault depending upon where people are living and stuff. And sometimes people are shamed that they feel it's their fault. So they don't tell anybody about it. And we have to stop the victim blaming. And it's, it's interesting cuz I, it's, I hear sometimes future teachers say, Well, I'm gonna tell kids they shouldn't get into a situation.
And I'm like, but wait a minute. Sometimes you don't know what a situation's about cuz you've never been there before. Right. So how can you shame a kid when they thought, Oh, I'm just gonna hang out, and then something happened, It's not their fault because they've never done it before. So let's, let's equip kids that even if they feel that something yucky went on, they can come to us, and will be there for them. How.
As a parent do you, how do you show to your kid that you'll be there for, anything? Because I feel like I can say that to my kids and say, Hey, I'm here for you no matter what. You know, something like that happens or, um, or you decide to have sex, or you need me to help you get on the pill or whatever you need. I'm, I'm here for you. Like.
What you just said to say that they're there. Yet we also have to recognize that as kids get older, they do get more independent, and they're trying to figure out like they might have to figure it out on their own or they might go to someone else mm-hmm. <affirmative> in which if we can, if they don't feel comfortable coming to us that you know, I need you to go to this person. Like, you know, if it's somebody you know, can you talk to your health teacher? Can you talk to, you know, talk about other reliable people, they can go to medical professionals, You know, so if somebody is, um, no matter if you're, you have a son or a daughter to introduce them to a medical professional that they can ask a variety of questions to.
Because if they think that maybe they were exposed to an STI that, you know, go and talk to the medical professional, I want you to be able to advocate for yourself.
Because sometimes kids, they're like, I don't, this is personal, and this is my parents. It's weird that some people don't wanna even look at their parents as sexual beings. Beings the same thing as a parent for the child. So sometimes they're not gonna come to us. That is a reality. So if we can at least tell them where else they can go. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. The other thing is if we have in the past done things where kids have come to us, and we've reacted negatively to say, to come back to that and go, you know what?
I reacted, I overreacted, and because I, and I didn't mean to mm-hmm. <affirmative> I sounded like my mother at that moment or whatever. Um, but to say, you know, I'm doing the best I can with the tools I've been provided, and my number one job is to do the best I can for you. So I'm sorry.
<Affirmative> to model that cuz we're all human. We make mistakes.
Totally. I mean, that line comes outta my mouth multiple times. <laugh>. So not too many times where they don't believe me, just <laugh> just enough to show that I am human as well. <laugh>.
Yeah. You know, it's, it's funny that, you know, we, we sometimes think that our relationships are supposed to be perfect. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they're not. And anybody like living with anybody is not easy. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It's not because sometimes, you know, somebody just leaves that toothpaste on the sink and it, it could be really annoying or maybe you're the person that does it <laugh>, you know. So it's hard to live with somebody. And even dating people, it's difficult. Relationships help us figure out more of who we are. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And sometimes, it can bring out the worst in us, and that's how we can grow.
We can become better people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So to remind like even young people that my relationship with my partner is not perfect, but we continuously, we have to work on it. And love is a verb, It's a verb, it's an action. So him just saying, I love you, and me saying it back to him doesn't mean that that's gonna save our relationship. It's, we have to have a commitment regularly of Yeah, yeah. We, we need to like figure this out, or you know, or if we get lazy in our relationship, we have to like, okay, what is this about?
Yeah. And, like you said, love, it's, it's work, it's action. It's not just Yeah. Show me. You know, like it's, it's the actions that we do. Yeah. So it's not just the work. What do you think overall parents just should know about just this overall topic of sex? It's like sex 1 0 1. I feel like we're in class <laugh>,
<Laugh>, that overall, people are sexual beings. I, I know that some people are asexual, um, but I would say a lot of people are gonna be sexual beings, and it's natural. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, it's natural to be curious. Uh, you know, if kids are looking at things like to talk about if you catch a child watching porn to actually talk about some of the imagery that's there. Because unfortunately, some kids get addicted to it, and their brains are not fully developed.
So the addiction can be pretty quick. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, so we, we wanna be honest, and it's important to, you know, if like, again, you see your child watching porn and talk about what's being portrayed there. Is that a healthy relationship mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and not to necessarily yell at the child for watching porn, but we are naturally curious. I've always been curious as a kid, I was the one that looked up in the dictionary, those words, <laugh>.
Cause I didn't have the internet as a kid. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, but that didn't mean I did anything. I was just curious. And I was curious when my friends in high school were having sex mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I dated somebody who I caught in lies, and I was like, I'm done. I'm not ready for this because I'll, I'll wait. Um, but I observed my peers, and some of them are still together, which is really neat. So the number one thing is that we we're human beings, we're curious. I we all wanna be loved. Um, Yeah. Kids are looking for love and they're not sure what that means and Yeah.
Yeah. And they're, they're, these are such deep discussions. I mean, really deep discussions with your kids about Yeah. What is love and what does that look like, and what are your expectations for it. I mean, those are huge conversations that I know I haven't had with my kids. You know, I've, I've had more of the mechanical talks, I would say mm-hmm. <affirmative> with my kids and keeping them. Um, there's so much more, so much more to talk about. So I, I think that was a huge, huge takeaway for me.
Me. The whole thing about sex, like you said, it's not just about this act, it's all this other stuff that goes along with, you know, relationships and the trust and, you know, can you be committed and, and then yeah. What is love to you? <laugh> It's all that philosophical stuff, but it becomes real when you're with somebody.
Yep. This is this; this conversation is so much more <laugh> than I thought it would be. So much more. Um, and so important, honestly.
But what's interesting, even if you asked your kids, you know, like for the next week when you watch anything, whether it be on Netflix or something like that, see if you can find a healthy romantic relationship. Like who, like if, if you watched friends, if you watched Grey's Anatomy, like what's an example of a healthy romantic relationship And to see what they come up with, but also for us to say, okay, where, where do we see one <laugh>? You know, and to talk about it. And that can help define, well, what is a healthy relationship.
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. It's not that if you and I are in a relationship, you have to do everything I say No; that's controlling. And if you go to, I think it's, uh, love is respect.org. They even have relationship wheels or relationship lists of what's a healthy relationship and what's an unhealthy relationship.
So let me ask you this. The holidays are coming. What has been your favorite gift to give to your stepkid or for the holiday?
I've liked when we've had experiences together.
Oh, I love experiences. Yes. Do you have a favorite one?
Yeah, I'm thinking when, um, when we were living, my partner and I were living in Wisconsin and um, and they came to visit around the holidays and we went out to a restaurant and then they didn't know I had homemade cookies and hot chocolate milk already in the car. So after dinner I drove across like there was beautiful Christmas lights over the Mississippi River and we had cookies and um, hot chocolate. And then I said to them, Okay, when we get back to to the house, you're going to see three remote control cars on, on the, um, the table.
And what I want you to do is pick one and then we're gonna have races and there's prizes for like people, you know, like whatever, whoever's gonna win. I think I had some kind of goofy prize or whatever it was. And we got back to the house.
We, we moved the huge dining room table and so the cars could be used in that room. And these are, they were in their twenties when we were doing this. Um, and it was just, it was just funny. It was just goofy. And it was the experience of like, they weren't expecting anything like that. Hmm. And it didn't necessarily cost money, it was just all of us together, cuz they were still trying to get to know me. It was nice to surprise them in that way and just kind of like, let us all be goofy.
Oh, so fun. So fun. So yeah. Experiences. I love experiences. That's what I'm trying to think about for this coming holiday. I was like, we need more experiences and gifts, you know? Yes. So we we're trying to think through. So that, that's a great one. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for just taking the time, and I mean, opening my eyes to, oh my gosh, like so much more <laugh> as you could tell. I'm still in shock at how much I need to do, but that's okay. Um, <laugh>,.
But Lisa, that's why when we have, like, there's a network of people, it's not just on you; it's a community. I truly believe that. So like as a health teacher, I'm, I'm supposed to be supporting the parents, you know, helping them do that because raising kids, you, you're so responsible for so much. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how can you cover everything Cuz this is a lifetime, so to work as a team and I perceive you're doing a great job. You're doing the best you can with the tools you've been provided. And I, I hope to one day meet you in person, and um, I think your kids are lucky to have you.
Oh, that is so nice. And yes, when you come to Colorado, which I know you will, we are gonna have a cup of coffee. Thank.
You for listening to this episode. Lori opened my eyes to how the act of sex is not the only conversation we need to be having, but also conversations about healthy relationships, trust, commitment, and what love is. Let's keep talking to our kids and share this episode with parents who need help discussing the topic of sex with their own kids.
Award Winning Health Educator/Author/Podcaster
Lori A. Reichel, PhD, is a school health educator with 25+ years working with children. A former National Health Education Professional of the Year and New York State Health Teacher of the Year, she currently teaches full-time at the SUNY at Cortland. Creator of the TALK Puberty app, Lori also has a podcast titled "The Puberty Prof" to help equip parents and other caregivers to talk with children about puberty and other growing up topics.