Episode 64: Debra Haffner: Raising Sexually Healthy Children

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In my work as a sex educator I meet hundreds of adults every year who experienced their introduction into adult sexuality as traumatic, abusive, violent, hurtful, shameful or just plain awful. We cry together and work on overcoming our rocky start. So how are we, as parents, going to help our own kids get a better start? Meet Debra Haffner, a parenting educator for more than twenty-five years, a practicing sexologist, and an ordained minister helping clerical organizations incorporate healthy sexual teachings and behaviors. With great clarity and candor Debra and I talk about the seeming epidemic of celebrity teen pregnancies, the opportunities all around us, everyday, for “teachable moments” with our kids, how to instill our values in teens, and how to be the kind of parent our children will talk with, instead of hide from. It’s a full, informative show with lots of great ideas. And don’t miss Rev. Haffner’s exercise for you to try with your teens.

Transcript

Speaker: This program is brought to you by PersonalLifeMedia.com. This program is intended for mature audiences only.

Chip August & Debra Haffner

Chip August: Welcome to Sex, Love, and Intimacy.  I'm your host, Chip August, and today on the show we're going to be talking about parents, teens, small kids, and sex, and sexuality.  We are going to be talking with the Reverend Debra W. Haffner.  Reverend Haffner is the author of two award winning books for parents, one called "From Diapers to Dating: A Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Children", which was called by the [xx] review "the very best kind of guide for being a better parent".  And a second book called "Beyond the Big Talk: Every Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens", which the American Library Association Booklist says "offers solid advice and resources to parents who will generally appreciate her candor".  And now she's got a third book which was just published in April.  Her latest book is "What Every 21 Century Parent Needs to Know: Facing Today's Challenges With Wisdom and Heart."  She's also the co-author of a college sexuality textbook, something called "What I've Learned About Sex".  Reverend Haffner has also published chapters of books and Encyclopedias on all kinds of other things. I actually first came in contact through a thing I saw in the New York Times.  She's regularly in the media.  Reverend Haffner was the chief executive officer of SIECUS- Sexuality Information and Education Counsel of the United States from 1988 to May 2000.  Reverend Haffner is currently the co-founder and director of The Religious Institute of Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing.  She's an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister, and a community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport, Connecticut.  She's been honored by just about everybody- Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The Yale School of Epidemiology, the Robert [xx] Medical School...the list just goes on and on and on. And she's also the mother of a twenty three year old and a fifteen year old. 

Debra Haffner: The Religious Right, unfortunately, is often seen as the voice of religion in the American Public Square.  And nothing could be further than the truth.  More than ten denominations are on record as supporting Comprehensive Sexuality Education.  More than thirty national religious organizations that are on record as supporting sexuality education in school.  So of course abstinence is part of that. You know, in Ecclesiastes, we learn that there's a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.  The question that has to be asked is what is that parent's values?  What is the maturity of the young person, and what are they comfortable with.  Questions like that, and they start early.  You know, should we be nude in our house?  Should I bathe my children together?  At what age is my child old enough to go on a date?  I wish I could tell you that there was an answer that should apply to every parent in America, but there's not.  So the answer to that parent is, what's the message that you want to give your child about the stuff on the Internet?  And then once you figure out what your message is, then you make the decision how you're going to monitor it.

I think it's that we're not skilled or our parents didn't talk to us about sexuality.  Actually I think it's pretty easy.  In my book Diapers to Dating, I really take you through, okay what do you do with your infant?  What do you do with your toddler?  What do you do with your preschooler?  I think if you start when they're little, it is so much easier. If your three or four year old son knows that sometimes his penis is hard, and sometimes it's soft, and it feels good to touch his penis, but in a private place...You know, when you get to the 8th grade and you're talking about masturbation in private places, it becomes a whole lot easier.

Chip August:  So welcome to the show, Reverend Debra Haffner. 

Debra Haffner:  Thanks, Chip. I'm tired even just listening to all of that.

Chip August: It's a lot of stuff.

Debra Haffner: It's a lot of years.

Chip August: Yeah.  So I'm really kind of...I want to start just kind of personally, and I have to say I saw that, you know, you're a Sexologist, and I thought, wow, that sounds like a fun thing to be.  Well, what exactly is a Sexologist, and why are you one?

Debra Haffner: Well, we'll leave the metaphysical question-answer for last.  A Sexologist simply is somebody who studies sexuality, and so I'm a certified sexuality educator. I started working in sexuality education over thirty years ago, and have conducted research.  My particular expertise for many, many years was the whole area of adolescent sexuality in which I did research and training, as well as direct work with young people.  And as you mentioned, I had the privilege of being the CEO of SIECUS, the country's premiere sexuality education organization for twelve years. 

Chip August:  And I have to say, one of the things I was really impressed looking through all three books, is that you just fill them with data, with all kinds of research.  You know, it's not just your opinion about things.  You're not a local school sex education teacher who has got a point of view from three hundred kids.  You really cram your books with a lot of data.  It's really quite refreshing.  Thank you.

Debra Haffner:  Thank you.  Well, the fact is there is a lot of data, and there's been a lot of research on sexuality education, and on what's effective parent child communication.  so my books really grow out of my own personal experience raising children, which is I was sometimes stumped by my own kids.  Or...particularly when they were in that early adolescent stage.  I was particularly humbled.  And I thought, wow, if this is tough for me, given all of the young people I've worked with and all the research I've done, how hard it must be for the average parent out there.  And so I set about trying to help parents think through how do you communicate your values, and what is the information you need to communicate to your children.

Chip August: So how does this kind of…I just want to get this out of the way right away.  Most of us don't think of the pastor of our church or the Rabi of our temple as the first person we would go to for sex advice.  So can you talk to me a little bit about being a minister and a Sexologist.  Can those two things go together? 

Debra Haffner: Well, yeah, you know, when I'm on an airplane or at a cocktail party, and people ask what I do, and I say I'm a Sexologist Minister, people usually laugh.  We see those words as oxymoron’s, you know, kind of like jumbo shrimp.  But what I like to say to people is that my mission first as a Sexologist and now as a minister, is really the same, which is to teach people how to love each other, to teach people how to treat each other with dignity and respect.  And so, I believe our sexuality and our spirituality are intimately connected.  My work now, and the work I feel I was called to ministry to do, is to help congregations, and clergy, and denominations and seminaries figure out how to be sexually healthy.  So often there is a silence about sexuality in our faith communities, and yet it's one of the most basic issues that people [xx] with and struggle with.  So I'm all about helping people learn how to be sexually healthy and safe, and how to educate and counsel their congregants about these issues.

Chip August: Now this isn't just a fancy way of saying: I try to teach people that kids just shouldn't have sex. You know, I hear a lot about abstinence education these days, and I hear a lot about abstinence education as being somehow being promoted by various different church as the answer, so I just want to be clear that's not necessarily the drum you're beating here.

Debra Haffner: Right, right.  Well, the Religious Right unfortunately is often seen as the voice of religion in the American public square, and nothing could be further than the truth.  So for example, more than ten denominations are on record as supporting comprehensive sexuality education.  There are more than thirty national religious organizations that are on record as supporting sexuality education in schools.  So of course, abstinence is part of that.  You know, in Ecclesiastes, we learn that there's a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.  So we want young people to make good moral, ethical decisions. But you may be interested to know, Chip, for example, when I became a minister, I made a decision that I would not marry virgins. 

Chip August: Hmm.  Whoa.

Debra Haffner: That I think sex is too important in a marriage to wait until after you're married to find out about your sexual chemistry.  That if a young couple comes to me...I don't really care, to be honest, whether part A has gone into part B or not, but what I do care about is that this couple knows who they are sexually, knows where their issues are, has dealt with those issues, and understands sexuality to be a positive part.  You know, sex isn't the number one or number two or number three important thing in marriage, but I think it's in the top ten.  And I think it's too important to leave it to chance. 

Chip August: Just anecdotally, you know, I...you don't know this, but in my other life, I lead workshops in love, intimacy, and sexuality, and I'm not sure sex isn't number one, two, or three, but we can have that conversation some other time.

Debra Heffner: (I know too many...) Right.  Lots of good marriages without, that don't have good sex, and lots of horrible marriages that have great sex.

Chip August: Yeah.

Debra Heffner: So I think things like friendship, trust, and communication come first. 

Chip August:  Okay, so what do you think about when there we are, we're watching various political conventions, and there's Bristol Palin, you know, who's about to be a teenage mom, or you read all the news about Jamie Lynn Spears, you know, Britney Spears' sister, teenage pregnant, teenage mom, or the girl who starred in Whale Rider- teenage mom.  When you see all this stuff about teenage moms who are pregnant or have just had children, what do you...what goes through your mind?  What do you think?

Debra Haffner: Well, first of all, I think I think what every parent of a teenager in America thinks, which is thank God that's not me.  But what I want parents to think about is, okay.  I now have yet another, what I call in my books, a teachable moment.  An every day opportunity to talk to my child about my values.  So Bristol Palin is, and Levi Johnston are a teachable moment.  You know, it's an opportunity to talk to your teenager, or even your pre-teen about, "what do you think about that?" In our home, our values are this about teenage pregnancy.  If you were thinking about it, this is our values about teenage sexual behavior, and if you're thinking about having sex, this is what we hope you would do. And so we can use those as opportunities to talk with our own young people.  I thought Tina Fey was brilliant in terms of the other night when she had her Sarah Palin character say that marriage was something we should be forcing unwilling teenagers into.  You know, there's no question that we know for a fact that teenage marriages that are begun because of an unintended pregnancy are much, much more likely to fail than marriages that are begun in their twenties.  And so, there are lots of issues you could use that as an example to talk about.

Chip August: Alright, I want to come back and talk more about these teachable moments, but I want to take a short break here, so you're listening to Sex, Love, and Intimacy.  My host, Debra Haffner, is the author of several great books on helping parents talk to their kids about sexuality, and helping kids to really have healthy sexuality in their life.  Listeners, we're going to take a short break now, and I'd love you to listen to these ads.  these ads are created by my sponsors for my how, and they help me bring my work to you, so if you can support them, I'd really appreciate it.  I get credit for anything that you buy, and anything you can utilize, and it helps me, it helps the show, it helps us grow.  So, you're listening to Chip August.  I'm with Debra Haffner, and we'll be right back to talk a little bit more about these teachable moments.

[commercial]

Chip August: Welcome back.  You're listening to Sex, Love, and Intimacy.  I'm your host, Chip August.  I'm talking to Debra Haffner.  She's the author of several great books on parenting, and talking about sex, and teaching sexuality.  And when we took the break you were talking a little bit about teachable moments.  And so, you said that all...I have two sixteen year old, so I listened to what you said, and then I thought, wow.  I think for a lot of parents, just being able to speak as openly and honestly as what you just said, and getting your child to sit still for it, is like, how do you do that?

Debra Haffner: Well, you know, the first thing you do is you have family dinners as many times a week as your schedules possibly allow. In my latest book, I talk about the research which says that it is really important for teenagers to feel connected to their parents, and the research on sitting down as a family and eating together and talking with the TV off, is really important.  So at my dinner table on a regular basis in our house, you know, we talk about what has come up during the day.  And not only <SKIP IN AUDIO> so you know when something happens in the news, or, you know, one of us has read something or heard something, it comes up at dinner and we have a conversation about it.  And let me emphasize, with teenagers, we're really talking about a conversation.  It's not about talking at your child. I actually have a sign in my office that says, "What teenagers need is a good listening to."  You know, rather than a good talking to.  And so asking, “did you hear this? What did you think?”  But there are other teachable moments.  As your teenager....as you're taking your teenager clothes shopping, or as they're preparing for a dance or a prom.  As they go about their lives, you know, it's an opportunity for you to engage them in discussion.  The media provides you...it gets a little tougher after...you know, once they have driver's license, it gets a little tougher because there less dependent on us.  But, for example, you know, the latest R rated movie is an opportunity to talk about sexuality issues.  This weekend my son, my fifteen year old son, came with his dad and me, and we went to see "Burn After Reading". It was an R rated movie, and it had a lot of pretty questionable adults in it.  So it gave us a chance to talk about some of those issues.

Chip August:  Yeah, I actually took my fifteen year old daughter with me to see Juno. 

(Debra Haffner inaudible)

Chip August: Oh yeah.  And it definitely had a lot of opportunity for conversation.  So I hear parents say, you know, "Come on, the schools are teaching sex education.  I send my kid to a really good school.  I know that they have a Sex Education unit in middle school, I know that they do a Sex Education unit in high school.  Aren't they really learning it there?"

Debra Haffner: Well, first of all, God bless if your school system as that, because less than one in ten school systems offer Comprehensive K-12 programs.  So if you're n one of those school systems, that's great, and you should support it.  But even if your child...I mean, I would tell you that even if your child is getting great sex education in school, or great sex education at the church or synagogue of mosque, they're still not getting your values.  So nobody else is going to tell your children what you think in your family.  So sexuality education is not just about giving young people information.  I mean, goodness knows in today's internet world, they might not need us at all.  But what they do need is a chance to talk about attitudes, and it gives us an opportunity to help shape their values and decision making. 

Chip August:  Yeah, but that's a little tricky, though, because I'm watching my daughter just fill her head with every piece of programming that's on the CW, you know?  And so I'm just watching her drink in attitudes and values about teen sexuality based on things she's seen on TV series.  And ooh, that's pretty tough.

Debra Haffner: So what I recommend to parents is you watch those programs with your child, and that you use them as an opportunity to talk about those characters. So if we can talk about Gossip Girl, we can talk about The Hills, and watch the programs with them, and then ask, you know, "What do you think? Do you know any kids who really are like that?"  One of the things that makes me crazy about some of those programs is how badly the adults are portrayed.  So, you know, you can talk about, "Wow?  What would you think if you had Brooke's mom?"

Chip August: Wow.  [xx]

Debra Haffner: So I try to in the book give you discussion starters.  What's important to do, is you don't have that conversation while the program is going on, because they'll never let you watch TV with them again. 

Chip August: Right. "Dad, be quiet.  Dad, I'm watching, Dad, shut up."

Debra Haffner: Right.  But, you know, one of the things that, you know...young people today internet in their room, they have TV in their room, they have video games, Wi-Fi, you know, Wii, etcetera.  It's really good idea if, in fact, if you want to engage in these discussions that, in fact, there not be a TV in their room.  That the internet access is in a public place.  So that you in fact can continue to have some control over what they watch and engaging them.

Chip August: So a question that a parent, as I said, I lead workshops in love, intimacy, and sexuality, and I actually go into my kids' schools and do a unit with the kids about sexuality. 

Debra Haffner:  Your kids let you go into their school?

Chip August: They hate it.

Debra Haffner: I was going to say.  Mine have never....that's always been an agreement.  I don't get to teach their friends.

Chip August: Well, it's a little tricky, because their friends all know what I do, because I have a podcast.  I'm on the internet.  They all listen.  You know.  So it's kind of tricky.  But yeah. I think it's like, "I'm really glad my dad's a celebrity and everybody likes to talk to him, and he really knows this stuff, and eww!  My friends are talking to my dad about this stuff."  So, one of the parents said to me, though, on a parents' night, "My son came to me, fourteen years old, wanted to know if it was okay if he looked at pornography. Oh my God, I didn't know what to do. what should I have said?  I didn't...I just completely frze and said something stupid.  What should I have said?"  So what would you say?

Debra Haffner: The question that has to be asked is, what is that parent's values about sexually explicit material?  What's the maturity of the young person, and what are they comfortable with?  So in questions like that, and they start early.  You know, should we be nude in our house?  Should I bathe my children together? You know, at what age is my child old enough to go on a date?  I wish I could tell you that there was an answer that should apply to every parent in America, but there's not.  So the answer to that parent is, what's the message that you want to give your child about the stuff on the internet?  And then once you figure out what your message is, then you make the decision how you're going to monitor it.  So a lot of parents are uncomfortable with their fourteen year olds, you know, searching, particularly because of the stuff that they can find,  which is...teenagers have always been able to find sexually explicit materials, but certainly not to the degree, and certainly not to the easy explicitness, let's just say of a wide range of sexual behavior.  So a lot of us aren't really happy about, okay, honey, sure, go search, and what they might be exposed to.  So with a fourteen year old, I think it's perfectly appropriate to say, "You know what? I'm really concerned about the way sex is portrayed on the internet.  I'm concerned that the images you might receive are images that might give you a really distorted idea about what sexual behavior is like for most adults. And so I'd like to look at some other ways that you might satisfy your curiosity about this."  There are other parents who would say, "You know, it's really no big deal", and then I would have that parent, I would say, "Okay, would you like to make sure, though, that your child uses safe behaviors."

Chip August: This is not a contest, and I don't...I love everything you just said.  And the thing that I, because I'm a boy, and because I remember when I started masturbating, that there was nothing in God's Earth that was going to stop me from masturbating.  Like, the threat of eternal damnation would not have stopped it.  You know, the idea that it could fall off if I did it would not stop...you know, like that urge can be really strong in young men.  So...

Debra Haffner: But I don't think they're related.  I mean, they're related.  Obviously they're related. Why are kids looking at this stuff on the internet, but...

Chip August: right, exactly.

Debra Haffner: But the reality is for a fourteen year old boy, a Victoria Secret catalog could probably do the same thing. 

Chip August: And that was one of the things I said to the parent. One of the things I said to the parent was, "You know, there is a distinction between these niche sites that are really sleazy and really awful, or really just cater to a very kinky...

Debra Haffner: Particular.

Chip August: That just aren't really...probably are not what is the best place.  You know, this kid is probably better off with Victoria Secret Catalog, you know, and just kind of, and also talk through the, "So we need to just actually talk about, who are these women you're looking at?  And why are they doing this?" 

Debra Haffner: And what's being done to them....

Chip August: Exactly.

Debra Haffner: I mean, we've been getting, I've been talking to some of my colleagues.  We've been getting a lot of questions recently on choking.  You know, and when you say, where is that coming from? I mean, you know, this is not anything I thought about as an adolescent. And they say, "Well, we've seen it on the Internet."  You know, so there's a lot of stuff out there that developmentally, as a person that studies sexual behavior, I'm concerned about kids getting exposed to before they've had, you know, much less...I'm trying to think of a good word.  Much easier sexual experiences. 

Chip August:  Yeah. yeah.  I think it's like everything in the world.  When we learn to drive, we do not start at the racetrack. [xx]

Debra Haffner: Right. I like that.

Chip August:  And we may never decide to go to that racetrack.  We may never feel...you know, the amount of driving we want to do just feels fine to be able to get around town and occasionally be on the freeway, and I feel the same way about sexuality.  You know, like, we start slow, we learn what we learn, we start to discover what we like, and some of us may become, I don't know, sexual gourmets, you know.  But there's no requirement for that. You know, a lot of us just like going for a country drive once in a while, you know?

Debra Haffner:  Right, right.  So I think that's great, and that's a value that would be important for you to get across to your children.  The difficulty for parents and something that I try to do with the exercises in the book, is to help parents... Parents really by in large in my experience, and I travel all over the country every year, have not taken the time to think about, what's the value they want to get across?  What's the message?  SO, for example, it's fascinating.  sixty five percent of American parents say they want their children to abstain from having sex until they're married.  That's on a poll. I mean, and it's obviously influenced by the poll taker, but ninety percent of Americans have had sex before marriage, and that goes back over sixty five years. So, you know, we're still not being clear with our kids about what we really want for them.

Chip Ausgust:  Right.  This is a great place to pause, because I want to come back to that thought.  So we're going to take a short break.  Listeners, I want you to know that we transcribe every episode of Sex, Love, and Intimacy, so if you hear something and realize you want to see it in hard copy or maybe you want to cut out a sentence and, you know, cut and paste it and send it to someone, why, you can find the transcript of this interview, and all my interviews, on my episode pages at Personallifemedia.com.  Also, if you have comments, criticism, or suggestions for guests, I'd love to hear from you.  You can reach me at Chip at personallifemedia.com, so drop me a line, let me know how I'm doing.  And you can really help me a whole lot by just letting people in your life know that you listen to this show.  The audience has been growing a little bit at a time each month, and we just really like to get out there to as many people as would be interested in this topic.  So please, if you know someone who might like the show, why don't you send them a link. We're going to take a break, and we'll be right back.

[commercial]

Chip August: Welcome back.  I'm your host, Chip August.  You're listening to Sex, Love, and Intimacy.  We're talking to Reverend Debra Haffner, and Debra has been talking all about sex and kids and parenting and values and you know...When we went to break, you were talking a little bit about teaching values. You know, what is a man?  What is a woman?  What do we really want our kids to believe and think? And I noticed that that question, that goes to the heart of like, you now, how comfortable am I even saying the word penis, or even saying the word vagina, you know.  How comfortable am I in acknowledging that even like children in diapers have sexual feelings?  It's pretty complicated.

Debra Haffner: You know, I think it's that we're not skilled or our parents didn't talk to us about sexuality. I actually think it's pretty easy.  And, you know, in my book "From Diapers to Dating", I really take you through, okay, what do you do with your infant? What do you do with your toddler? What do you do with your preschooler?  And I think, you know, you're the parent of teenagers, I'm the parent of teenagers.  If you start when they're little, it is so much easier.  So, you know, if your three or four year old son know that sometimes his penis is hard, and sometimes it's soft, and it feels good to touch his penis, but in a private place. You know, when you get to the eighth grade and you're talking about masturbation in private places, and, you know, changing your sheets, it becomes a whole lot easier, because it's been an ongoing dialogue.   People, I feel, always have the hardest time are the parents who come to me talks or give me a call, who have never talked about sex.  And now they've got a fourteen year old who is in love.  And they're like, you know, "What should be in that big talk?"  And I always say, you know, "You have been communicating something all along, but what you've been communicating is that you really don't want to talk about these things.  So by the time they're fourteen, it's really late to be saying, "You know, I'd like to do a better job."  It's not that you can't do that.  But it's so much easier if we start when they're little, and give them age appropriate information, and a little bit of age appropriate values.  You know, it's interesting, Chip, as a minister, I have never had someone come to me and go, "My child is thirteen and I think I'd like to introduce the concept of God." You know? They've been teaching their religion ever since their child was in diapers. And they do it little by little in an age appropriate way.  You know, sexuality is the same kind of thing.  We need to start early. 

Chip August:  I also want to speak to the value...I think there's a thing that we teach as parents that we don't realize we're teaching, which is our own example. 

Debra Haffner: Oh, absolutely.

Chip August: That, you know, my children see me in a relationship with my partner that includes smooching, and kissing, and hugging.  And we're not being actively...genitally oriented sexual in front of our kids, but it's clear that our relationship has a sexual component.  It's clear that we have desire for each other, love each other, and that they see modeled every day. And that definitely makes that conversation a little easier.

Debra Haffner: Well, it's also different than the people who, you know, say even as adults they're convinced their parents had sex twice. Once for their brother, and once for their sister kind of thing.  I think, but it's more than you're being affectionate. It's actually more important that you're treating your partner the dignity and respect. That they see communication, that they see healthy conflict resolution, that they see...how they watch us, you know, who mows the lawn, and who puts the dishes away is also sexuality education. 

Chip August: Yep, I agree.

Debra Haffner: So they are modeling, and you know, and how those people who have been...who have previous partners or previous marriages, how they treat their previous spouses.  You know, it all goes into the mix of who they're going to be as an adult.

Chip August: Absolutely.  I could talk to you forever, but unfortunately we're running out of time.  If people wanted to read your books, wanted to learn more about you, wanted to learn more about SIECUS, wanted to learn more about The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, how do people find you?

Debra Haffner:  Okay.  So, the Religious Institute is www.religiousinstitute.org.  Of course you can Google me, search me, which will get you to all of my organizations.  I write a daily blog at debrahaffner.blogspot.com.  And my books are on a website called 21stcenturyparent.com.  And they can read excerpts from the book, and actually order it directly from that site as well.

Chip August:  I want to speak on behalf of that last book. I, you know, the subject of my show is mostly sex, love, and intimacy.  The subject of your book, the whole concept of affirming parenting and really the parenting style is so much more than just about sex and when to have talks.  And so I want to say to any parent listening, it is a good read, and t is well worth listening to, well worth reading, and it was just a lot of great factual information to sort of quell fear, but also help me kind of see some things that I can do better as a parent.  So, a personal endorsement there.  I like it.

Debra Haffner: Thank you.  I actually call that book my self help book, which is that I wrote it to help myself.  You know, it came out of, when I was traveling around the country doing talks for parents about sexuality, it just became very clear that although parents struggle with how to deal with sexuality with their children, they're really struggling with parenting in general.  And that I wanted to know were kids really more obese?  They're not. Was there a real crisis in sexual abductions?   There's not.  What's going on with kids on the internet, and how do we keep them safe?  So the book was really about, what did I need to know to raise my fifteen year old today?

Chip August: Yeah, and I think you did a great job with it. Listeners, I need your help a little bit. Will you please take five minutes and fill out the anonymous listeners' survey for my show?  You'll find it on my episode pages and it helps me better understand you, and it helps me create sponsor confidence, and allows me to sell advertising, and it also helps me to book guests that are really the guests that you're looking to do, and supports the work I love to do.  So if you would go to Survey.personallifemedia.com, and please, just take five minutes and fill out the survey.  It's fast, it's easy, and it really helps me out.  Thank you very much.  Debra Haffner, you have been a great guest.  Thank you for being on the show.

Debra Haffner: Thank you for having me, Chip.

Chip August: I really like to leave my listeners with a thing they can do in their life, a exercise, a meditation, something they can do in their life that will enhance the love, intimacy, and sexuality in their life.  And I was wondering if you had something you would suggest to my listeners.

Debra Haffner: Well, I think we've just provided you with a teachable moment.  Which is, you can say, those of you that are parenting can say to your children, basically from age six on, "I heard this minister and this man on the radio today talking about how parents and children should talk about sex, and I'd like to do a better job."  And then just pick a topic.  Find out, start with what does your child already know about this topic.  Then correct any misinformation, or give them correct information. And then say to them, "You know, in our family, we think..." and them give them a little bit of your family values.  So whether it's about the election, some of the sexuality issues: marriage equality for gay couples, abortion, family planning, teenage pregnancy.  Three easy steps.  Ask them what they think, correct their information, and tell them what you think in your family.

Chip August:  Yeah, that's great.  I also want to say that if telling them what you think in your family is that you notice that what you think is mixed, that you don't have a clear...you know, it isn't this or that.  That is a terrific thing to tell children because there's going to be tons of things in their own lives where it's not either A or B, and it's really comforting to know that your parent doesn't actually have all the answers. 

Debra Haffner:  Absolutely.  You know, one of the things I say to parents all the time is that it's really important for your kids to know you make mistakes, and it's even more important for you to learn how to say "I'm sorry" to your children. 

Chip August: Yeah.  Well, as I said, I could go on and talk and talk and talk, but we're out of time, so Debra Haffner, thank you very much for being on the show.

Debra Haffner: And thank you so much.

http://sli.pod-ad.com/content/SexLoveIntimacy_064_DebraHaffner.mp3

Chip August: And that brings us to the end of another episode.  Listeners, thanks for listening in, and I hope you'll join me again for my next episode.