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Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Their ChildrenAbout Sex and Character    by Pepper Schwartz & Dominic Cappello order for
Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Their Children
by Pepper Schwartz
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2000 (2000)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Given that my eleven-year-old son had just had the 6th grade sex ed lesson (or rather, as he put it, a 'sex movie') at school, and that all I recalled from my own childhood was listening to Bill Cosby's version of the birds and the bees talk, this book was timely. Its introduction makes an important point about kids' frequent exposure to sexual content in the media, where negative consequences are rarely shown. (In fact, I have been shocked to find that very explicit movies, restricted in our home, have already been seen by friends of my children.)

Our kids are getting more exposure and at earlier ages than we did, and many of us today feel poorly equipped as parents to help our children cope with adolescence and sexuality. This book lays out a detailed template for ten talks to have with children on sex and on character. It stresses the importance of having family rules on 'sexual safety and sexual ethics' that encompass things like Internet access and TV viewing as well as interpersonal behavior.

The ten talks cover: how we treat people; puberty; boundaries, healthy relationships; attraction and love; trust and honesty; TV, movies and music; what's online; alcohol and other drugs; and your family's values. Each section gives suggestions on how to prepare for the talk, what to expect from it, background information, and scenarios which can form a basis for discussion. For example, in the section on attraction and love, one scenario is a first kiss in the back seat of a car. Questions to ask the child include what the participants are thinking and saying, and their plans for the rest of their time together.

The authors recognize that different families have different values, and I appreciated the fact that the book encourages adults, as well as children, to explore their feelings on these issues and the family values they want to share. Each section includes warning signs of a child's potential problems with respect to the topic, for example signs of chat room addiction in the talk about what's online.

This is a very useful resource. Though I skimmed through some parts of Ten Talks Parents Must Have With Their Children About Sex and Character on first reading, I expect to refer to them in detail more than once over the next few years.

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