Today on The Blissful Parent Podcast we are talking with sexual health educator Amy Lang. For over 20 years, Amy Lang, MA has been helping parents of all beliefs talk with kids about the birds and the bees.
She is the author of the award-winning book Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids – A Guide to Sharing Your Beliefs About Sexuality, Love, and Relationships and her book for teens Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait. Amy’s talks, books, online resource center, and podcast helps parents learn how to talk to their kids about this important and awkward part of life. Amy is still married to her first husband and they are getting the hang of parenting their teenage son. She lives in Seattle, WA. You can learn more about Amy and her work at BirdsAndBeesAndKids.com
Michelle: Hello, Blissful Parenting its Michelle Abraham, your host here today and I’m so excited for this episode. I have a really special treat for you guys today. We brought on Amy Lang. She is a parenting expert and she really focuses on really helping us parents get to that birds and bees talk. So Amy, thank you so, so much for being with us and I hope you’ll tell us a little bit more about what you all do.
Amy: Thank you for having me. I am super excited to chat with you and to help the parents that are listening right now. So I was the sexuality educator for over 15 years. Is that right? It was a long time from my early twenties on and I love to talk about sexuality and talk to anybody you could think of. And then I had a kid and I was stumped. I did not know how to talk to a child about sex. I realized at one point I was like, Yay. I’d rather talk to a pregnant 14 year old girl than my kid who’s four at the time. And I realized that that was going to be a little bit of a problem. So I started doing some research and I realized that we didn’t really have any approachable information about how to talk to kids about sex. And I also suspected that it was kind of out of date.
And so I dug into like how to talk to kids about sex. And then I did a little research and discovered that in the Netherlands they do everything right when it comes to talking to kids about sexuality. So when I when I kind of got myself ready to talk to my child, I also realized that other parents needed help. And so I started Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids. And I’ve been doing this for 13 years. Milo was about five when I started and now he’s 18. So I’ve done all the things with my boy and you know, he’s launched now he has his first girlfriend. And so I just, you know, I just wanted to help other folks. And I have a master’s degree in, group facilitation and adult education. And so I just combined my two favorite things and started a company.
Michelle: I love it, Amy. And you know, I originally found you online when I was searching for an expert, kind of specifically in this field. And interesting, I know and your website just really spoke to me as a parent. It’s very welcoming and you know, as a, since your podcasts you have a podcast called “Just Say This”. And I really, really love it that it’s parents that are having recorded the questions that maybe they’re a little bit shy to ask or may their afraid to like speak about it in public like about it or whatever. And then you just give this no BS answer and you make it sound so simple and so easy and nonchalant about it. I just love it. So I really encourage our audience, go check out Amy’s podcast. It’s really cool. And you can find it on iTunes and then also on your website, which is BirdsandBees.com. So you can really make sure you go listen to it. So tell us a little bit about the podcast Amy and how that kind of started.
Amy: Well, I love the Q and A style podcasts myself and I’m an avid Dan Savage, Savage Love podcast listener. And so I was like, Dan’s got it all going on. So I’m just going to copy him and had been on his show a few times and, and I’m Palsey walsey with his producer. And so I realized that this was a great way for me to do a podcast cause it’s not dependent on interviews or scheduling time with anything, anybody. And it gives an opportunity, like you said, for parents to ask those questions where they just feel like a big dummy. And so they leave a voicemail and then I answer, you know, I answer their questions and I also do a little like blurb at the beginning where I pick a specific topic and talk about that. And I have really great advertisers because I want like, it’s almost all parenting oriented and I want parents to have like all the resources they need to really tackle this part of, you know, parenting.
And then other parts too. And I’m loving doing it. And you know, I’m getting really great feedback and you know, I think that when it comes to this part of parenting, people are, you know, they’re uncomfortable. They have their histories that are showing up. They don’t want to ruin their kids. And I think also we’re operating in this culture that is so saturated, saturated with sexual messages and information that most of us don’t want our kids to have, until they’re like, I dunno, late twenties. But we’re not going to get in our way and it’s not going away. And, you know, we have to really get our kids ready for when they’re exposed to crappy stuff online or their friends are, you know, throwing around different terms. So, you know, my whole mission is to help every child grow up to be a whole and healthy adults.
And if you just pause and think about sexuality, it is with us from the beginning and it is a through line to just about everything that we do as human beings. And sometimes it’s, you know, overt, it’s like right there, the thing that’s on your mind and then sometimes it’s kinda running around in the background. So yeah, I mean I just really want parents to feel comfortable and confident and be willing to jump in and I promise the conversations don’t have to be too scary. Sure, they’re going to be uncomfortable, but lots of times they’re just hilarious. So that’s my jam.
Michelle: Well, I’ve definitely been to listen to your podcast on several occasions and I just, I have laughed at all of the questions and all the answers because they are funny. And like, especially when they’re coming from younger children doing silly things, and you’re like how, do I deal with this? I remember one particular episode where the little girl was humping her teddy bear.
Amy: Right? Right. Yeah. She’s humping her teddy bear in front of God and everyone, right. So she’s like, I’m bored. This feels good. Like any time. And I mean, so we talked about how, you know, and parents should know this, like sexuality, like we’re wired up for pleasure from the beginning. And so it’s super common for kids to figure out that it feels good to touch their penis or their clitoris and they don’t know it’s something we do in private, you know, they don’t know that there’s anything, you know, bad about it. They’re just like, I’m bored. I’m in a safe place. I’m just gonna stick my hand down my pants. And, you know, usually we can predict when they’re going to engage in this kind of sexual behavior. You know, it’s usually, a bedtime or nap time. It’s self-soothing, you know, they’re not, thinking about, you know, John Stamos for example.
So they’re just like, it feels good. I’m bored, I’m tired. I’m just going to do this. And as adults, we tend to turn that in. We tend to sexualize that. We tend to think, oh my God, that’s a grownup thing. Like we shame kids. We’re afraid of that. It means something. And usually, it doesn’t. So, you know, one of my big tips for parents of young kids, in particular, is just to say, hey, I know that feels good, but that’s something people do in private. It’s okay to do that in your bedroom when you’re alone, but never in front of other people. People feel uncomfortable and then, you know, help them remember that because sometimes it takes a few, a few little reminders to, you know, get their hands out of their pants. So yeah, that’s one of the big concerns for parents. And I just want to reassure you that it’s very common, considered natural, considered healthy, and then we have boundaries right about when that’s okay.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s a great idea. And you know, just, you just normalizing the normalizing, but we as parents take it as a crazy big deal and you making it not a big deal, which I really appreciate that you do and I think that’s a great way of looking at it. So, you know, what, when is the right time to start bringing up these conversations? Is it, when, is it more like kid led or is it we really need to like sit down at a certain point and have a conversation.
Amy: Yeah, it’s really adult-led and you know some kids will never ever ask and that’s for a variety of reasons. They’re super private. They think they already know. They read you as not ask able. Like you get a little tweaky around this. So they’re like, oh, she’s not safe, so I’m not gonna, I can’t go here with you. So it really needs to be parent-led. And the place to start for everyone is just using the correct names for private body parts. They have a right to know. And you know, we are all hung up because of the way we were raised that you don’t say penis, you don’t say clitoris as you don’t say vulva. You know, lots of us are using, you know, terms like Taco and down there and front bottom and back bottom and you know, winky and you know, all these other terms and what that tells kids is that something different about that body part.
And there’s something actually not okay. Because they don’t, you know, like everything else has a kind of an anatomical name. Like, you know, my nose is not my smeller, right. Like we don’t say that, hey, you know, wipe your smeller, please. So this is the place to start and it’s actually protective when it comes to folks that might want to, molester abuse your child. Because if a child says, hey, you know, do not touch my vulva or don’t touch my vagina. That correct word tells that person. That’s that you there, the kids being talked, spoken to you by someone. But if a child says, don’t touch my cookie, that’s not okay. That indicates to that person that there isn’t an open, open line of communication. Interesting.
Michelle: Yeah, that’s a great point. And very good for their safety too. That’s a really great idea. So we can start having these conversations by certain eating the right body card for being an adult about the conversation. Yeah. Call it what it is, don’t it weird. And then what about when the kids start asking us questions?
Amy: Most kids start asking about how babies are made when they are like five or six or so. And if your child asks you that, this is an indication that they are ready to know. In fact, most kids are ready to know what about five or six, whether or not they’re asking. And the reason for this is that they don’t know about sex. Like they don’t know there’s anything Yucky, bad, embarrassing, shameful. They also don’t know that there’s anything marvelous, fabulous, amazing about sex. And so we have an opportunity as parents to start to launch them with like, this is an amazing part of life. It’s very cool. It’s not for kids.
So you gotta be very clear about that and then, and then start the conversations. And most parents shy away from penises and entering vaginas. And that being the usual way babies are made. We know the babies are made all kinds of different ways these days, which is of course lovely for lots of families. But that’s the thing that people need to get kind of out of the way. And so the other reason is they start school. So kids talk, especially now when kids are porn exposed really early, so they kind of have this sense of what sex is. So it’s again, protective. So if the kid says, you know, hey, I know it’s sex is, it’s when people read their bodies all over each other and get naked and your kid’s like, yeah, and right. So you want your child really to be the smartest kid on the playground.
And I know I just said porn exposed. So everyone needs to take a big deep breath and shove that in a dark place. Cause we’ll talk about it again in a minute. So we’re just talking about basic anatomy and setting kids up to feel good about themselves as a sexual person. And then, you know, really like talking about your family values in terms of waiting. You know, I’m not I don’t believe that you should wait until you’re married to have sex. I think that is like kind of bonkers. So what we say in our family is that sex is for later in life. You know, if you do believe that sex is for marriage, that’s great, but you need to talk about why because it’s marriage is not compelling. As you may know yourself, so talking about why it’s important to wait and why those are your family values.
So the other thing we know about kids who are sex educated from an early age is that they are safer from sexual abuse. They do better, they feel better. And while they may not wait longer to have sex they do use protection. And you know, no one wants a teen pregnancy. Right. That’s a really hard thing to deal with. And lots of teen parents do really well and thrive. And then, you know, I mean, we’re grown, right? We’ve had babies. We know what it’s like to have kids. It is hard. It is hard. It is. Sure.
Michelle: Yeah. It’s really one of those things that, you know, actually, sometimes I wish I was younger when I had kids. I kids at 30, 32 35, definitely not teens. I really appreciate it. I did have my teens in my twenties too, to have fun, be a kid enjoying that age. So yeah, that’s a great point. So helping them, is interesting that there are definitely a scientific correlation between like having those conversations early and of being safer and actually using protection later on. That’s great.
Amy: Yeah, it really makes a big difference. And you know and the folks who are listening in the United States and Britain we have Canada’s better than we are. But we have the highest teen pregnancy and STD and HIV rate in among young people in the world. And so we can’t depend on the school system or doctors or anybody but us to make sure our kids are really well sex educated. And you know, I think one of the myths is like, I don’t want to make this really clear, like, you know, Park your five-year-old and say, okay, it’s time for the talk and then, you know, talk at them for three hours. The thing that’s most effective is short and sweet conversations throughout the years. Not being afraid of like if something comes up like in the news or whatever and just saying, you know, hey, you know, oh my goodness, there’s this article or I heard this thing on the radio or whatever and you know, let’s chat about it.
Or so-and-so is going to have a baby. And you know, they usually people get pregnant when they have a sperm and an egg join up cause the penis and the vagina, it goes in the vagina. But these guys had this other way of getting pregnant. It’s two moms, it’s two dads. Like you talk about that a week and or in your own family just say, no, this is the usual way. But in our family, this is how you came to be. And the other piece is this, kids do not, they’re not judgmental. They’re just like, oh, okay. So like when I told Milo, we read a book, which I highly recommend, and there are a bunch of books on my website that I are my favorites. I’ve read them all. And so I read a book with him and I got to the penis in vagina part and I was like skipping it and he hopped off my lap and he said, okay, thanks Mama.
And went and played with Legos. And so I sat there and I was like yeah, baked chicken. And so a couple of days later I read the book or read the whole thing and you know what he said, okay, thanks Mama. And went back to playing legos. Right? So they don’t know. We know. So we need to remember that and like, and then like, and my park our anxiety park everything we know. And you know, we know all this stuff and it’s important for us to acknowledge that it’s important for us to deal with our hurt and our damage around sexuality because again, we’re going to project this onto our kids and just remember your kid’s an empty vessel. They deserve to know about this. They deserve to know that sex feels great. It’s a good part of life. It’s a healthy part of life.
It’s a normal part of life. And then talk about the troublesome stuff. Right? So by the time your kid is nine-ish, they should know all parts, what goes where your values about sex, they should know about start knowing about puberty. Girls have their periods as young as eight. It is straight up mean to not tell girl she’s going to be bleeding from down there. And so getting for girls in particular, I think they should know about periods by eight. And again, they don’t know there’s anything weird. It’s a natural function of the body. Yes its an inconvenience. But you know, there are ways to handle it and you’re right there for them and we’ll make sure that they’re prepared. And of course boys need to know about periods. Everybody needs to know about everybody else, right? So by the time they start middle school, they should know the basics of everything.
And that means everything they should know about STI’s, HIV, they should know about orgasms, masturbation, puberty. They need to know about all the different kinds of sex, oral, anal, vaginal, they should know that most of sex is touching, hugging, kissing. You know, having your body’s rub together, like the parts and wholes piece of it is, kind of the, not the full, the full idea of sexuality. And so I know some of you just like had a heart attack and are wishing you had a drink. So I just want to assure you again, that seems like a really big deal, a lot of conversations to have.
This doesn’t happen in one go right. So it’s like, Hey, just want to talk to you about this little piece and hey, do you know what STI’s are? And you talk a little bit about that. So you’re not the you’re not the Wikipedia of sex for your kids.
You are giving them like, what is the thing what is it, what’s your value about it and what are the limits, right? So, you know, just talking about all of that they need to know about birth control. And again, I know this feels like a lot of information, but it’s over time. That’s why we have books. So you don’t have to be the one that goes like, okay, the Fallopian Tube, you can just read it. Right, and the other thing about that is it puts a little space between you and your kid. So if you’re like reading your book and you’re like, okay, I need another glass of wine, they’re not going to notice your discomfort. In the same way they would if you’re like, okay, we’re going to talk about orgasms and you’re like, having this eye to eye conversation doesn’t work for anybody.
Michelle: Yeah. It seems like we only will make it like a deeper, harder, difficult conversation. Yeah. They are kids they just need to know, like you’re saying the basics, but the easy and the, Hey, do you know what this is like? That sounds like a good way of approaching it. Now let’s hear, come here. Let’s talk about the birds and bees.
Amy: Let’s sit down. It’s Wednesday, it’s the talk day, right? It’s Wednesday, it’s Hump Day. We’re going to have our sex talk today. And it’s actually, I mean, you can be funny about it, right? And you can just say, hey, it’s Wednesday. It’s time for a sex talk and there’ll be like, oh my God, you know, and it doesn’t matter. Right? Like even if they say like I already know what that is. They don’t, or maybe they do, but the thing they’re missing is your values, which is super important, which is super important. That’s actually the most important thing you can do for yourself and for your kids. And just to clarify your values. And I have a book called Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids, which is all about clarifying your values and you know, it’s weird, we don’t think about like we think about our sexual values in terms of like when is it okay to do it?
But really we have values about all kinds of things. Like we have values about tampons, we have values about any number of things. And so when you clarify your values, you’ll feel better, you’ll feel better, and then you’ll do better. So when you’re rattling off some, you know, term or your kid’s like, oh my God, what’s a blow job? What’s a blow job mom? And you’re like, Ahhh! Right. You’ll be able to say it later, they’ll be able to do a better job of thinking about it, thinking about how you wanna respond. So I, and you know, I think the other thing about this is that there’s this myth that when the kids are ready to know, they’re gonna ask, some kids don’t ask. Right. And what do you do with that kid? Right. My kid he never asked.
Michelle: We just assume. Yeah, we just can’t assume that they know. So they don’t need to ask it.
Amy: Or that they know the right timing. Right. And you know, it’s just not, it’s just not true.
Michelle: Do you have some tips for, you said earlier that like maybe they’re not asking me because they don’t feel safe like that you’re a safe person. Do you have some tips for parents? You know, try to become that safe person so they feel comfortable.
Amy: Yeah. So I’m a big fan of just admitting like, I’m not comfortable to talk about this. My parents never talked to me, but you’re old enough now. It’s really good one. You’re old enough now for us to start having these conversations. So I might be awkward. You might be awkward, I might be uncomfortable, you might be uncomfortable, but you need to know about this cause it’s such an important and really great part of life. And that’s it. And then you get a book and then you say you’re driving in the car and you’re like, Hey, remember right, we were gonna start talking about this sex thing. So I just wanted to let you know, like sex means two things. It’s like whether you are female or male. And it also has to do with you know, being really close to somebody and like having pleasure or making love.
And so it’s kind of going to hear those words. And so I just want you to know that there’s two different ways talking about it or you know, I would just like chuck things over my shoulder in the car. It’s like, Hey, did you know that when girls have women and girls and women have pants on, that their periods, like they can use this thing called Tampon, which goes up inside their body. It’s like cotton thing. Or they can use a pad to catch the blood and everybody will be like, Ah God, and then you’re like, you got to know this stuff. Like I did that for the boys in my car. Right. And I had permission from my son’s besties, parents that I could just talk about whatever I wanted. There were moments when I was like, I’m not doing that one, but I was very open with them as well.
Michelle: That’s awesome. I love that. You know what? You can drive the kids anywhere you want and take them anywhere and then you can have those conversations with them. Yeah. My Mom said she used to love driving us places and when we were in middle school, high school age, because that’s how she found out what was happening in our lives is by driving us and hearing our conversation.
Amy: He’s good. Cracks me up. How like they forget that you’re listening and like they’re just having this little back and forth and it’s like, where are you people? Like do you realize that I am like, I here right here, but don’t abuse your time in the car. I had one mom say to me. She’s like, Hey Amy, I took your advice about talking to kids in the car. And she said, I think I’ve, I think I overdid it. She said, she said, yeah, you know, my like the other day though, like getting in the car and they’re like, no sex talks, no sex talks. So use it judiciously. Yeah, everybody does better if you’re talking while you’re doing something else, playing Legos, washing dishes, folding clothes, walking the dog. And it’s okay to just, you know, say hey, I just want to talk to you about something real quick and then say what it is. Keep it to two minutes or you know, max, as your kids get older, you’re going to have longer, deeper conversations.
Michelle: I love that. But just setting up the little tiny conversations, throughout their lives. I think that’s a really good, that’s not just one big long three hour talk that they’re like totally done at the end.
Amy: Yeah. I mean it’s exhausting for you. Like the kids, whatever, it’s going to wipe you out. And you know, and again, it also makes this like an event, you know, rather than a part of their, in part of your family life and how you roll.
Michelle: Right. While we’re on the topic of questions, do you think when your child comes to you with a question, you’re not quite sure how to answer that? Would you try to answer as best you can at that moment? Or would you say let’s table for a minute and come back to that conversation? How would you deal with that?
Amy: Yeah, I a if you’re like, oh, I don’t know how to handle this, then you can you just say, I don’t quite know how to answer a question, so I need to think about it. I’ll get back to you at bedtime and then you go run around and research research, right. And figure out how you want to talk about it. It’s really important for kids to see us not make like being like, uh-oh, I don’t quite know how to answer that. And, and just showing how you don’t have to be out working out, working on the fly. That you can take a moment before you respond to something. And you know, if you do answer a question on the fly, cause you think I got this and then later you’re like, oh, I just said something crazy cause I was anxious then go back to your kid.
And it’s so important to apologize and say I’m so sorry I didn’t answer that very well. Here we go again. And again, you know, this is another parenting important parenting technique or whatever. Whatever. It’s not even a technique thing is to apologize. Yeah. Cause when we say I’m sorry, our kids lean into us. If we’re running around acting like we’re all experts. So if you apologize when you do something, when you misbehave, cause we all misbehave, your kid respects you more, they’re more likely to take responsibility when they’ve made a mistake. So it’s really modeling how to be a decent human being.
Michelle: Yeah. And you know, it’s funny cause I feel like parents get a little weird about the parent child thing, but like you just be a normal human being. Like would you do that, would you do not go back and apologize if it was your friends or you know, your husband or something. We forget they’re younger. They need to be treated the same way as everybody else. Yeah.
Amy: They need to see that. They need to see that. Yeah. It’s a good skill. So don’t overuse that as well because it’s really effective. Yeah. You really screw up then use it. But if you’re moderately script cause women tend to, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Oh I’m sorry. I didn’t like fill your coffee cup right or you know, whatever. I’m sorry honey. I didn’t, I gave you a fork instead of a spoon. So that’s another little tip, like monitor yourself. Like when do you really need to apologize? Yeah. Right. You don’t need to apologize if you gave your kid the wrong fork. Right. Or fill their cup halfway when they wanted it all, whatever. You know all the weirdness that they do. Yeah. Yeah. Cause it really, when you’re apologizing all the time, it oh what’s the word? You know, it kind of makes the real apology less powerful.
Michelle: Right. Makes sense. You were saying at the beginning of that you learned a lot of things like Amsterdam or they’re really doing it right in Holland. What were some of the things that they’re doing differently than we’ve been able to do in North America?
Amy: So they have a re, so this is a kind of a like a thing we can’t really fix, but they have a really open culture about sexuality. They see it as a positive, lovely, wonderful part of life. And our culture sees it as dangerous. We see it as problematic. We see it as secret, we see it as like a don’t ask, don’t tell kind of situation. So we have very different cultural values and attitudes about it. And so the takeaway for parents is make your family values like the Netherlands, right.
Copy that within your own family, cause you do have the most influence there. They had sex ed from kindergarten all the way through. So there is no not knowing, there’s no not knowing and those kids wait a little bit longer to have sex. And again, when they do, they do it safely, lowest teen pregnancy rate, lowest HIV, STI rate and the world and so, you know, who doesn’t want that, right? So there’s a definite correlation between lots of information and better decision making or safer decision making.The families tend to have like they’re more chill with dating and you know, the boyfriends that I’ve girlfriends like partners can stay over at each other’s houses because even though that might feel a little bit uncomfortable to the parents, again, it’s safer. Right. You know, we were all bonking in the park or you know, some, you know, right.
Like wherever we were getting it on, it was not at a party. And of course, speaking for myself here, you know, at a party or whatever. So like hooking up with folks and it wasn’t in a safe space. So they have that going on and then they have socialized medicine, which frankly is helps everyone be healthier so that there’s no anxiety about where am I going to get birth control? How do I learn about this? You know, I think I might have an STI. Something’s up down there. Like it’s not a big deal to go get your care. And here it’s complicated. I just had a mom call me because her son has his first girlfriend and they’ve had sex. And fortunately he told her, which is great. And she said, I’ve been doing what you say and look what happened and then I’m freaking out.
So this is whole like, Yay. Help! And so one of the problems was like where she, when the question was where she going to get birth control. They’re using condoms, but she needs to be on birth control. And so she has a teen clinic at our school. You know, there’s always planned parenthood. So there was some conversation about how she going to do that, where she gonna do that. And you know, there, it doesn’t even, it’s like not even thing, right? You just go to the doctor and nobody cares. Right. So that’s basically what they have going on for them. And I believe we should all be little Netherlands at our house, like all the we should be doing that and helping our kids that way. It doesn’t hurt them. It doesn’t hurt them to know this stuff.
Michelle: I really like what you said about doing, thinking about our values, about sexuality before we have those conversations with our kids because I’m going to go get that book you suggested on your website because I think that’s a good idea to go back and think about you know, what it is that, what is our family values that before we even have a conversation about it. I think that’s a, that was a really great tip and thank you. You, mentioned something else and when we were first talking about it, how our kids are porn exposed, I wanted to go back to that for a second. So tell us about that.
Amy: Big deep breath. Everybody. Here we go again. Okay. So here’s the deal and I’m just going to keep this sort of short and not really sweet.Because this is one of the things that is making me most crazy when it comes to childhood sexuality. And so every child will be exposed, to pornography that they cannot escape childhood without seeing it. And, the bad news is, and it can be very scary. It can be very distressing. It can be very upsetting and confusing. It seems gross to kids, which it should.
It can also be really fascinating because they can get, you know, we’re wired up to feel sexual from the beginning. It just looks different kids so they can get sexual feelings from it. And so they can go down a rabbit hole. And, um, so the difference between seeing still images and seeing video is that it’s video is much more powerful. Like, you know, I had playboy magazine, right, and play girl and like penthouse rights, which was the really naughty one. And so seeing those still images can also be influential but not in the same way. So the first thing is that most parents think, oh, no, not my kid. My kid would never, they’re not interested. And if you’re not talking openly with your child and they’re curious about bodies, they can Google boob and or penis. And I had a couple, a mom that called me and she was in a relationship with a woman and they had a little boy and she said, so my partner’s talking to my son, he was about six or seven talking to my son and she was saying, hey, when he gets older, when you get older, your body’s going to grow, you’re going to get taller, your feet are going to get bigger, you’re going to get, you know, hair on your chest and your legs even your penis is going to get bigger.
And then that smarty pants, little guy ran downstairs and guess what? He googled penis. So he saw some mighty big penises and you know, the moms were freaked out. But you know, I was like, did you see videos? They were like, no, it was still photographs. And I said, okay, good. But still, right. So he’s curious. He, Google’s big penis. He doesn’t live with adult men by who would have big penises that he might see. So yeah, he saw some really big penises. So we need to think about this like that. Like they’re curious, where do we go for answers? We’re gonna Google, and it’s their natural curiosity that can lead them into this. And so some kids will just be like, oh my God, and shut it down. And some kids will be like, what’s happening here? And look for more.
And you know, the internet doesn’t care how old your child is. The Internet’s not going to say, oh, honey, you’re 12. We’re just going to say no. Right? So most parents, and this is where I’m going to be a little scoldy and mean, most parents think, oh no, my kid would never, so they don’t have parental controls and they don’t have monitoring software to protect their kids. And that monitoring software and those parental controls should be set on every single device your kid can access. Even at Grandmas, even at their childcare, it should be locked down so that when they do Google big penis, they’re not gonna get anywhere. None of this is foolproof, but it’s in terms of like doing our due diligence to protect our kids, this is what you need to do. And it works. You know, I had a couple come into my office for consultation because their eight year old daughter had googled horses even though they had everything locked down and she managed to get to some, as they put it bad seventies porn, through one thing and another. And so they were worried about her, but it was like not, it was, it was totally manageable cause she knew what she knew. She was sex educated. Right. It was all, it all ended up being fine, but you know, so I’m not gonna lie to you and say it’s foolproof, but it’s better than nothing. And go ahead, you have a question.
Michelle: I was just gonna say, we just had this conversation in our family. My son got an iPad for his birthday and my sister in law was sharing with, her kids are 10 and 13, and she’s got a very strict parent rental controls on apple devices, but then also a Youtube and then also on they’re different. So you could he problem that she said she was having is that the sex toys are not, They’re easier to find because there was no, like you can’t set it to g and it’d be only g videos that would come up or you know, g-rated things because those aren’t there things, not .
Amy: Oh, right, right, right, right. Their items Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I mean, like I said, it’s not foolproof. And the thing about monitoring software, and if you go to my website, Birds + Bees + YOUR Kids and go to my resources page, there is the monitoring software I’ve used again, Milo’s 18, we’re done. He’s ruined. Hopefully he is not ruined. It’s called “Custodio” and it, you put it on every device and you block terms, you’re going to have double blocking between the parental controls and the “Custodio”. And then the cool thing is that you’ll get an email telling you if your kids have tried to search something that’s off limits and then that’s an opportunity for conversation. You don’t tell your kids that you have monitoring software and you’re putting parental controls on to keep them safe. It’s not spying.
Right. Spying is when you don’t tell them. Right. So tell them because that’s also respectful, right? And then as they get older, you can start unblocking things so they can, you know, stretch that need to like flex that muscle of self control. Yeah. You don’t take it off. So if you see them go too, I don’t know what he, and you’d be like, Oh God. And you know, you can hit him, click on the link, which sometimes can be really distressing and then you’re going to have a conversation and you know, before you you know, you should have conversations and some folks have contracts with their kids about what’s okay and what’s not okay to do online. But contracts smontracts. I don’t know how well they work. Some kids are real rules oriented, especially when the kids in general or when they’re like before like 11 or so. And then after that there’s a lot of poking right. Trying to be.
Michelle: A lot of rebelling against those rules.
Amy: Yeah. And so this stuff is inexpensive. It’s worth it. It’s takes just, you know, it’s not too hard to install. I’m not super techie. I did it myself. It was fine. And you know, as they, by the time they’re in ninth grade, you take up all the blocking cause they need to be able to do stuff and be out there in the world. But here’s the deal. They have work arounds. Now kids are really savvy. It doesn’t mean you don’t do, it doesn’t mean you don’t do it just because by the time they’re in high school, they’re going to be looking at other stuff. And the thing to remember is, I don’t know the statistics, but I would guess that 80% of parents have no parental controls and no monitoring software on the devices, their kids access.
Michelle: It’s scary.
Amy: And it’s not just sex stuff, it’s not just porn. It’s like how do you commit suicide? What’s, you know, like all kinds of awful things. Yeah. Guns, bombs,
Bombs, anything on YouTube. How do you shoot up? Right. Safely, like awful, awful stuff. So it’s not just porn of course. For me, I’m most worried about the porn. Right. So that’s great. That’s my porn talk. So take a deep breath. If you do, if you take nothing away from our conversation, this is the thing. There’s one last thing. You do not want to be the parent that has, that gets a phone call from another parent who says, your kid showed my kid porn on the phone, on the school bus. You do not want to be that parent. It is. It sucks. It’s scary and it’s hard. So protect yourself. How’s that?
Michelle: Amazing. Thank you Amy. You’ve given us so many great nuggets here and so I could set up some great, like the glue, so many great places to start from, which is amazing. And so we can go ahead over to Amy’s website, go check out her resources. She has a book. She’s got the software, she just mentioned. Lots of great, amazing things and lots of more education there too. And don’t forget to check out her podcast because it is hilarious. You’ll really love it. And so, Amy, thank you so, so, so much for spending time with our community today on the Blissful Parenting Podcast. We really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to come and spend with us and enlightening us on, and we will definitely bring you back again. Yeah. For talks, more topics. There’s so much to talk about, so thank you.
Amy: Yeah, my total pleasure is really fun.
Michelle: Great. Oh, look forward to seeing you again soon.
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