Start Talking to Your Kids about Sex
A Practical Guide for Catholics
by Julia Sadusky
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Pub Date 03 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 24 Jan 2024
One of the most difficult challenges we may face as parents is to have that first “talk” with our kids. You know the one—discussing their changing bodies and sex for the first time.
When do we begin? Where do we start? How do we do it in a way that makes sure they have the information they need, doesn’t make them (or us) feel overwhelming shame, and forms them in Catholic teaching? In Start Talking to Your Kids about Sex, clinical psychologist Julia Sadusky will answer questions you may have and give you the boost of confidence you need as you have foundational conversations with your elementary-age children long before they hit puberty.
As Christians, we believe that the body is a blessing and a gift from God—and worth protecting—from the beginning of life. But many parents and educators wait until puberty to begin conversations with kids about sexuality and relationship boundaries. We miss opportunities along the way to reinforce their body’s goodness—like when young children discover their most intimate body parts, for example. We might react out of fear and embarrassment because we don’t know how to respond calmly.
Sadusky says we have to be proactive about providing our children a healthy understanding of the goodness of their bodies and offering them ways to respond if someone doesn’t respect their boundaries. If we don’t, our discussions about sexuality end up being too little, too late. By the time puberty hits, children will have learned from culture, social media, and sometimes, early experiences of trauma. Our failure to engage well in these conversations earlier has significant consequences.
Start Talking to Your Kids about Sex is one of only a few resources focused on these issues. It is organized in a question-and-answer format, making it easy for you to begin with the topic that’s most pertinent at the time. It will help you identify barriers to these conversations with a child. You’ll be able to draw from concrete scripts addressing everything from responding to questions about genitalia, exploratory play, sexual abuse, and technology use. With each chapter, the content will help you grow your courage and practical knowledge.
This go-to resource is structured around the most frequently asked questions Sadusky receives in her clinical practice, including
- What is healthy body exploration?
- Should I make my kids hug strangers?
- How can I help my kids learn to say no when I’m not around?
- What are good “house rules,” and how do I justify them to other adults?
- What do I do if my kids say they had an unwanted sexual experience?
- How should I respond to invitations to sleepovers and overnight trips?
An appendix offers additional resources for parents.
While the book is geared toward parents, extended family members, caregivers, mentors, mental health professionals, and educators also will find the information helpful.
A Note From the Publisher
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Ave Maria University and a master’s degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Regent University. Sadusky is an affiliate member of the American Psychological Association.
Her practice is in Littleton, Colorado.
“Julia Sadusky brings her experience as a licensed psychologist to help parents be proactive in leading conversations with their children about the beauty of God’s gift of our sexuality Filled with practical advice, we’ve been blessed as parents by Sadusky’s timely and important work!”
Jackie and Bobby Angel
Catholic authors and speakers
“This book is a solidly Catholic treasure trove of practical wisdom. I’m already thinking about how to apply these tips and strategies with my own kids. Sadusky has given us a much-needed map to navigate the trickiest of topics with clarity, confidence, and gentleness.”
Professor of the practice, McGrath Institute for Church Life
University of Notre Dame
“Many parents struggle with how to talk with their children about their bodies and sexuality, especially with society promoting so many worldviews that reject the natural law. Julia Sadusky’s eminently practical book tackles this tough topic in an accessible and faithfully Catholic way. You won’t regret taking even a few moments to learn from her insight and experience.”
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Archdiocese of Denver
“This book is what I have been searching for as a school counselor and a mother! It is a concise and direct roadmap to follow as you have crucial conversations with children about sex, their bodies, boundaries, and more. Sadusky provides processing tools to work through as you anticipate how to respond to children’s natural curiosity around sex without shame. An absolute must-read for parents, teachers, school counselors, and all those who work with children!”
Counselor at Crowley High School