Forget the stork and the birds and bees. Canadian educator Meg
Hickling teaches kids the simple truth about sexuality. Meg's spent 20
years talking to kids of all ages, as well as to parents, clergy and
health professionals. Her presentations elicit rave reviews, and she
shares wonderful tips and anecdotes in her book More Speaking of Sex.
What makes your approach to sex education such a hit?
MH: I talk to kids about "body science." I tell them, "This is not
about how to have sex. This is about your body and how it works. I know
you all think having sex is gross and you're never going to do it.
Well, you never have to have sex in your life, but you're always going
to have sexual health to think about." I throw in humor like,
"Scientists never say 'ewwww,' they say 'interesting.'" It works like a
charm; it makes the kids laugh and relaxes teachers and parents.
Why do you recommend teaching young kids about condoms?
MH: So many parents told me their kids picked up discarded condoms
because they thought they were balloons or marble bags. I compare them
to Kleenex for the kids -- when you buy a box of Kleenex in a store
they're clean and healthy, but you wouldn't pick up a used one in the
street. I do explain their purpose, because we want kids to grow up
feeling good about condoms and expecting to use them.
What's the toughest issue for parents to teach?
MH: I call it the "m" word -- masturbation. I tell them, "We
are all born sexual; babies masturbate before they're born, we can see
it on the ultrasound. If God hadn't meant for us to masturbate, God
would have made our arms shorter!" I explain that masturbation in the
strictest medical sense is anything we do that gives us pleasure and
releases tension -- twirling our hair, scratching our chin -- this
gives them more perspective.
Any favorite books?
MH: I always open It's Perfectly Normal and hold up the picture of the
naked girl looking between her legs with a mirror and I say to parents
"This is my favorite picture, don't you think this is wonderful? How
many of you ever got a message that it's okay to put a mirror between
your legs and have a look?" I go on and on and try to be as funny as I
can. At first they're really shocked, and one mom said "But you can see
her tan lines!" And I said, "Yeah isn't that neat?" And she visibly
Who are your influences?
MH: I'm most influenced by children. I first heard about the G-spot
when my seven-year-old came home from school and said, "My friend
showed me a magazine that said women have a G-spot and if you rub it
hard enough women go crazy." The magazine was Hustler, and I figured it
was all made up. Six months later The G-Spot came out. Kids are way
ahead of adults. Your kids will learn about the women's condom from
Oprah while you're at work.
Any parting words for parents?
MH: We don't celebrate healthy sexuality nearly enough in our society.
We're so hung up on the horror we grew up with about our own parents
being sexual. If we had people talking to us when we were preschoolers,
saying that sex is what normal, healthy loving people enjoy, then we
wouldn't have been grossed out when we found out that our parents were
having sex. Kids should grow up knowing that sexual activity is part of
a healthy committed relationship, so parents should celebrate the fact
that they're still attracted to each other!
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