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Parents: How To Explain Hollywood Sex Scandal To Your Kids

November 15, 2017

Talking about sex with your own kids is never easy. Talking with them about the accusations of sexual misconduct against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K. or U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore and others can be downright intimidating.

But it’s an opportunity – another in the many “teachable” moments of parenthood, according to child and adolescent psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders from Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living.

“This is an opportunity to have a difficult conversation with your kids because it’s in the media,” said Dr. Saunders. “These are opportunities to talk about our bodies, and what’s a ‘good touch,’ a ‘bad touch,’ and what makes us uncomfortable. What makes us comfortable.”

Not to mention the concepts of consent and permission, presented in a way that is age-appropriate.

“It needs to be very simple and concrete for younger kids,” she advises parents when addressing kids in the pre-school and early elementary school age range. “Use simple language. And you need to give examples, like ‘Johnny can’t just hit you if he’s angry with you. He needs to control himself. If someone wants to give you a hug, they really need to ask you first.'”

Dr. Saunders says that as the kids get older, the conversation can be more subtle – and you can use more details.

“With teens, you can really talk about this whole idea of consent,” she said. “This whole idea of you need to get consent not just by action but with words. And it needs to be direct and it needs to be explicit.”

Allowing children and teens to have boundaries — the ability to say no, is extremely important, too.

“It’s OK to keep a boundary around yourself and not let someone in,” she says. “We have to give our kids permission to set that boundary and keep people away,”

Finally, it’s important for parents to listen and act if their child comes to them with information about a possible violation of their boundaries.

“When your child or your teen comes to you and says, ‘Something bad happened to me,’ or ‘Something really uncomfortable happened to me,’ that’s the time to say ‘I believe you and I’m listening to you and let’s figure out what we’re going to do to make this safe for you,'” says Saunders.

For more information on the services available at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, click here