Teens, sex, and Henry VIII

Teens, sex, and Henry VIII

By Emma Perry

Emma Perry has been a secondary school teacher for over 20 years, a mum of two and now runs a Tuition centre in Standish, Wigan. She is currently studying to become a Specialist Dyslexia teacher and assessor. You can find more information about Emma’s tuition services at www.topgradeseducation.co.uk or on Instagram and Facebook @topgradeseducation.

On a trip to the Tower of London, my eldest daughter commented very loudly on the size of Henry VIII ‘dildo’. Other parents started to usher their small children away from the foul-mouthed pre-teen. I froze. I wanted the ground to swallow me up- this was not a word we had ever used at home. It turns out she meant the cod piece on a suit of armour.

But what had happened to my angelic daughter? Where had she heard the word and how we should talk about it? I took a deep breath and realised my daughter was not being raised in a vacuum, she was influenced by other people, she was being introduced to different language and my role would be to guide her through this very confusing time.

Relationships at any age are difficult to navigate. But when your child is entering into their first relationships in a world where communication channels and gender politics have transformed, as a parent you can feel powerless, concerned, and isolated. In this article we will explore how to support our young people to take care of their relational wellbeing and build resilience for future relationships.

How to keep the lines of communication open

Firstly, as parents we should be the person that our child can trust to talk to about their feelings and their relationships. Starting early is crucial. It is always better for our child to learn about relationships from us rather than someone from the playground. [After the Tower of London incident] I knew that there were conversations of a sexual nature happening. I also knew that she was quite innocent too, so although it was a shock, it was reassuring, kind of. Talking to our children is so important, finding a time when they will ‘open up’ can be a challenge, but talking in the car, on a walk, at the dinner table can be a good time.

Self-respect is critical in forming good habits for relational wellbeing

Having self-respect means you know your own value, understand your own boundaries, and realise that you are worthy of love and a quality relationship. This is great – but many adults struggle with this so how can we help our young people to have self-respect when they are bombarded with ideas of how people should look and behave? Reinforce the idea that they are wonderful human beings, be proud of their achievements, build positive communication and most crucially be a positive role model yourself. Use positive language in the home and look for the positives in your child.

We must teach our children to trust their instincts

Our bodies tell us when a situation is not ideal. We must teach our children to listen to their ‘gut’ – if something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. Coercive control is probably a parent’s biggest fear, this can begin so subtly and become a huge issue. If your child feels as though they are being ‘persuaded’ to do something they are uncomfortable with they must trust their instincts and talk to yourself or another trusted adult about the situation. Remember, gaslighting is a crime which can be reported to the police. This is a form of coercive control which makes the victim question their sanity.