Turning Around the Dreaded Conversations

Turning Around the Dreaded Conversations

Talking About Sex with Your Children

As a parent, I wanted a different approach to the oh-so-serious sit-down talks about topics we are culturally conditioned to dread, like sex.

It may surprise some people that I started talking to my son about sex before he could talk. Most of us were taught about sex from a reductionistic model, where sex is relegated to body parts, genitalia, reproduction, and the infamous birds and bees analogy. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, sex is:


a: sexually motivated phenomena

b: sexual intercourse


a: to increase the sexual appeal of — often used with up.

b: to arouse the sexual desire of

What if sex is more than a noun, a verb and more than, specifically, a reproductive act?

What does sex mean to you?

Spending time reflecting on what sex means to you is hugely important. You may discover that you want to drop certain beliefs that carry a vibration that is not “yours,” unwittingly carried over from past teachings. You may find that your definition of sex was relatively narrow. You may become enlightened as you dive deeper into the expansive qualities of sexuality. Past wounding and trauma may surface as you reflect more deeply on your beliefs, fears, and relationship with your sexual lovemaps.

Your early nonphysical and physical sexual experiences get integrated into a sexual context, thereby shaping your sexual style and lovemaps.

I’ve worked with clients with sexual addictions or sexual preferences that often elicit shameful thoughts. In these cases, their first or early sexual experiences shaped their sexual appetite, even if the incident was negative or traumatic.

A client of mine, I’ll call Joe, had been to many therapists before he came to me for a problem he had been struggling with much of his life. He couldn’t get turned on by his partner. His first nonphysical sexual experience was coming across a magazine in a shoe-shining shop. Inside the magazine was a picture of a woman donned in a military uniform and boots, holding a baton, standing over a man in a dominating stance and shoving her boot into his face. Joe was aroused by sexual humiliation and hid his sexual preferences from his partner. He frequently went to online adult sex sites to satisfy his sexual urges. Joe was riddled with guilt and shame.

What wasn’t processed?

Joe lost his father at a young age. Joe had to step in to fill his father’s shoes and felt the pressure when his mother told him he “needed to be a man” and was now the “man of the house.” Joe never properly grieved the loss of his father. He learned to mask his feelings, stay strong, and hide his fears so he wouldn’t disappoint his mother. When Joe came across the sexually graphic picture, the story the image seemingly told was “downloaded” into his sexual lovemaps. As a young boy, Joe had no way to process his emotions, and he subconsciously identified with the image of submission and crying out for help. This story got integrated into his lovemaps without internal consent. Traumatic events were shaping his sexuality. And since there would be no opportunity to construct meaning around his emotional experiences, his sexual explorations would cause tremendous suffering in his relationships. The very thing that traumatized Joe had paradoxically become his turn-on. That is, subconsciously, he was looking for ways to reenact the little boy who was afraid of his controlling mother.

When Joe could connect where his lovemaps were vandalized and work through underlying emotional pain, he began to heal his sexual addiction. He longed for a healthy, loving connection with his wife.

We are living in a culture that promotes and condones the world of pornography and a “no holds barred” attitude toward what constitutes healthy sex. Now, self-gratification is just a keystroke away. Little attention is given to restoring your relationship with your sexual health, exploring a much more expansive and dynamic relationship with what it means to be a sexual being and how your relationship with sex affects your intimate relationships.

It’s little surprise then that we are seeing a continued rise in sex addiction. Research shows that 9 out of 10 boys are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18. The first exposure to pornography among boys is at 12 years old, on average. Moreover, many young male adults become acclimated to having sexual experiences in a virtual world and artificial setting rather than sharing an in-person, real connection with an actual person, causing impotence in young men. That’s a problem.

Are your lovemaps healthy?

When considering whether you have healthy sexual lovemaps, you might try answering the following questions. When you are sexual with your partner, do you experience a close emotional connection? After sex, do you feel like you have shared a meaningful experience? Or do you experience negative feelings?

We need to reevaluate and discern what constitutes unhealthy sex. Often, what gets overlooked is the implicit and inadvertent harmful self-constructs originating from past experiences which influence present choices and behaviors.

A more complete definition of sex, I believe, is:

The life force energy flowing throughout your mental, emotional and spiritual body;

comprising the confluence of your full expression and essence;

coalescing, ever-changing, from the inside out while opening space for your creativity, passion, mystery, drive — and igniting your magnetism.

Hence, you are naturally and always a sexual being.

From a grounded place,

in touch with your source connection,

integrated with the light of you,

your perfection,

your interconnection and interdependence,

both at the macro and micro level with all of life,

having a deep reverence and respect for yourself and


you explore your sexuality,

choose your sexual experiences,

play by way of sexual expression and

create healthy sexual lovemaps.

Where is there often confusion?

If a person shares with me that their turn-on is to feel devalued, shamed, and disrespected, I am not going to assume this is healthy by using a reductionistic model that defines harm as whether they are harming another person. Guess what? It’s hurting You. This is a sign to explore lovemaps, what got integrated early on, and identify where there wasn’t internal consent. This requires healing, restoring, and renegotiating your sexual agreements. That’s the actual work that cannot be underemphasized or overlooked.

With a much more expansive definition of sex, I look at a child’s sexuality from a palatable perspective that encompasses their life force, creativity, passion, flirtatiousness, and magnetism. This then laid a blueprint for how I wanted to talk about sex with my son. I always directly or indirectly talked about the sexual qualities stated above and what this feels like in the body. I focused on helping him to be an observer of his natural way of being, so that when he experienced contrast, that is, intuiting something just wasn’t feeling right, he would notice and move away. This expanded to conversations about unwanted touch or seeing images that create confusion. When he got a little older, I could reference these organic qualities as his sexual being and expand on how these sensations can feel in the genitalia — having this broad context allowed for a comfortable and natural way to talk to him about his sexual nature and how it is an ever-changing and evolving expression of beauty, safety, love, joy, and freedom. And for him to notice when something does not feel safe, for example.

The takeaway here is why it matters to explore and heal your sexual lovemaps and why you should consider a more expansive and contextual understanding of sex. A child’s magnetic sexual qualities are an extension of their full expression, which, therefore, must be safeguarded and nurtured at all stages, especially during the formative years.

Note: Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Originally posted on Medium on December 6