10 Habits of Highly Effective Sex-Positive Parents

-By: Melissa Pintor Carnagey, LBSW, CLC-

Being a sex-positive parent or caretaker may sound like a shift from a 'norm,' but the everyday actions and intentions are likely not very different than what you're already doing well. Check out these 10 habits that are hallmarks of great sex-positive parents. Which can you identify most with? Which areas sound like #goals? What can you do differently today to celebrate at least one of these habits within your family?

  • SHAKES THE SHAME: Keeps an open-door for communication without projecting shame. Leads with facts , leaving no subject as taboo, to best prepare a child to make informed choices about their body.
  • VALUES A CHILD'S AUTONOMY: Respects a child's right to self-determination & focuses on preparing them for independent decision-making versus seeking to control outcomes.
  • REINFORCES THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSENT: Empowers a child to exercise control over their body, set healthy boundaries & teaches them how to seek consent from others.
  • MODELS TOLERANCE & RESPECT: Reinforces, through action, an understanding of diversity. Shows respect for others regardless of gender identity or sexuality.
  • LISTENS MORE THAN SPEAKS: Creates a safe space for a child to share without fear of judgment or criticism. Uses open-ended questions & phrases like, "Tell me more" to encourage discussion. Responds to non-verbal cues from a child.
  • FOCUSES ON REDUCING RISKS VS. INSTILLING FEAR: Discusses natural consequences to risky behavior. Does not use fear as a strategy to influence child's decision-making.
  • TEACHES CORRECT TERMS FOR ANATOMY: Accurate names for genitals are taught early to keep children safer & more prepared for sexual health.
  • SHOWS SELF-AWARENESS: Gets clear about own values, biases, personal experiences & any areas of discomfort around sexual health topics.
  • PROMOTES EXPLORATION OF PLEASURE: Believes pleasure is necessary for every human to experience as part of healthy sexuality. Masturbation is discussed & normalized.
  • USES OUTSIDE RESOURCES: Books, videos, websites, visual aids, & professionals are a part of the toolkit to ensure a child receives comprehensive sexual health information.

Taking a sex-positive approach to parenting supports a child's sexual development without shame and allows for a parent-child relationship that is honest and open, so they are equipped to make informed choices about their bodies and sexual health.