My youngest, when singing and executing the Oppa Gangnam style dance moves, alternates between saying ‘sixy’ or ‘sucksy’ which I quite enjoy, but truth is ‘sexy’ is a word in the lexicon of my young children.
Living in the hyper-sexualized culture that we do means our kids are exposed to ‘sexy’ language and images starting at a very young age. At times, it makes me what to uproot my family and go live in a dark cave.
But since I’m reconciled to take the bad with the good of urban North American life, the question I have to ask is what am I going to do with the explicit and implied messages that my kids receive?
A lot of parents do nothing but doing nothing is doing something. When we don’t say anything we still message all sorts of ideas and values to our kids.
So, what do we do? How do we explain ‘sexy’ and other sexual words, images and ideas?
- It might be wise to try and limit the amount of adult content our littles consume. I know this can be hard (outside of the cave…) but as parents, it is our job to exercise choices about what our young kids do and don’t do, see and don’t see. We can at least try to not be lazy and let popular culture completely educate our wee ones. That doesn’t mean you are condemned to listen to Baby Beluga for 6 years. There is heaps of great music that doesn’t chronically reference sex.
- Let your children know what you think, and what standards of behaviour are all right in your house. It’s also important to let them know what is socially appropriate/inappropriate, and what to do if they have difficulties or questions.
- Sometimes the simplest answer, explanation or comment will meet the need of your kid while imparting your values.
- I know it can be cute as hell seeing munchkins imitating adults. But try not to reinforce sexualized talk or behavior in your young kids. Have a laugh after they go to sleep.
For primary aged kids
- All of the above continues to apply, I think. It’s appropriate (even for many pre-schoolers) to be taught that some words and actions are ‘grown up’. You could explain that ‘sexy is a word used by grown ups to describe somebody they find pretty or beautiful.‘ While that isn’t comprehensive, it isn’t inaccurate either.
- It’s not a bad idea to reinforce the grown up nature of the word (or behavior). If you have a kid that always responds with ‘why?’, you can explain that just like having children, driving a car or voting, some things are for grown ups.
- If (or when) you hear or see your kids engage in sexualized talk or behaviour, have a conversation with them about it. Reinforce what’s appropriate for grown ups and what isn’t appropriate for kids. Make sure the conversation happens in a way that won’t embarrass or shame your child or give them the impression that there is stuff that they need to do when you aren’t watching.
- As children mature, it’s important to help them understand that other people’s standards may be different from yours or theirs.
- Also, as they mature, more details and more conceptually complex ideas can be absorbed by our kids. You can begin to expand on the definition of ‘sexy’ and even challenge popular culture’s narrow definitions to help kids develop sexual intelligence. For instance, talk to your kids about how sexy can often include things other than physical appearance. Smart can be sexy; self-confidence IS sexy; etc.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines SEXY
1: sexually suggestive or stimulating : erotic
2: generally attractive or interesting : appealing ie. a sexy stock
Sexy stock? If they’re referring to a good bouillabaisse, I get it. Regardless, I challenge you all to use the phrase ‘sexy stock’ at the next meeting with your investment broker.