My Ex is Religious. I'm Not. What Should I Teach My Sons About Sex?

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Betty Dodson

Dear Betty

I'm a divorced mom and have 2 sons aged 6 and 8. I wanted to ask your advise on age appropriate sexual education material. Their dad is a very religious Jew and my kids go to a very orthodox school. Boys and girls are in separate classes from grade 0, and from a religious jewish perspective the aim is to keep boys and girls not touching until after marriage, and ejaculation outside of a vagina is seen as a BIG NO NO!

I am not religious as their dad is, and my boys are being raised with exposure to both a jewish religious world, as well as a secular spiritual upbringing. I want to ensure I give my boys a healthy and balanced understanding of sexuality, age appropriately over the upcoming years, and ensure they feel safe and confident with their bodies and their sexuality. I would greatly value your advise.

Dear L,

Your boys are getting one message from Dad and quite another from Mom. The big difference between what their Father believes versus yours comes down to forbidding or accepting masturbation. I believe it's sexually unhealthy when young girls and boys are shamed into avoiding masturbation. In my many years as a sex educator, I have observed first hand that most of my clients with sexual problems never masturbated as children or teens. It's very consistent. This lack of self-exploration causes women to suffer the lack of orgasms and men to struggle with premature ejaculation. And that's only naming the two biggest problems.

So in some way, you must convey your ideas and feelings about the positive role self-touching plays in their sexual growth. Do they tell their Dad or do they remain silent? That will be another one problem for you to solve. The ideal situation would be for your entire family to sit down with a wise counselor and have this discussion with all of you present.

Since that's unlikely, then you must decide the best way to handle this. To discuss your views with you former husband or keep you own counsel. I would see this as offering your boys a choice and it's up to them to choose. Some might say the 6 year old is too young but many children's first memory of exploring their genitals begins as early as 4 and 5 years of age. It has been shown in sonograms that babies in the womb are touching their sex organs.

Your 8 year old most likely has a smart phones or a computer. If that's the case, believe me, he has found online porn which is a lousy form of sex education. It's entertainment for men that mostly leaves out women's needs and desires. That's where a mothers in put is invaluable. I'd love to hear how you end up handling this very complex family dynamic. You have my best wishes.

Dr. Betty

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