Source: Sherman Publications

Free sex/abstinence workshop Feb. 5

by Trevor Keiser

January 16, 2013

Talking to your child about the subject of sex and knowing what to do or say can be difficult, which is why Oxford Addison Youth Assistance is hosting a “Talk Early &Talk Often” free workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. inside the Oxford Village Community Room at 22 W. Burdick Street.

“Talk Early & Talk Often” is a state supported workshop designed to help parents and caregivers of middle and high school youth develop better skills when talking to their children about abstinence and sexuality.

“It’s been a successful program mainly because it was driven largely by parents,” Clemens Whittekind, a facilitator of the program. “Barb Flis, statewide coordinator as a parent got into this because locally things didn’t seem to be efficient to inform parents or empower parents to really step into the role helping with their children becoming healthy adults.”

Whittekind said the workshop is not designed “where a highly educated expert talks to parents,” but instead where a facilitator, who is also a parent get the parents to interact with each other through role playing.

“That’s what parents usually love the most is that part of the exercise,” he said. “Where else do you really get to practice conversations like this? And if it happens with your children without any kind of practice you can imagine how good those conversations are.”

The goal said Whittekind is to be a parent your child can come to and know they can talk to or ask about any subject matter of life. Despite what media may say, statistics still show parents play the vital role when it comes to relationships.

“A lot of data shows, amazingly enough that it’s still the parents that makes the biggest difference in children’s lives when it comes to healthy relationships, sexuality, abstinence, and things like that,” he said. “What parents mostly need and what is also shown in a lot of ways that’s being successful with children is most of all having a good connection with their children and not being afraid of bringing up subjects that make children as well as adults uncomfortable.”

Whittekind said being able to talk to children about sexuality could lead to talking about other tough subjects such as bullying, alcohol or drug abuse. Talking early about sexuality is also key sometimes rather than waiting for the subject to be brought up.

“Just like with traffic rules. We didn’t wait until the kid ran into the street,” Whittekind said. “We told them very early on that there is a sidewalk and what a red light, a yellow light and a green light meant way before they tried (to cross the street). It’s kind of the same approach you want to have.”

At the workshop parents will also receive a materials binder, which includes resource flyers, handouts, and a booklet, as well as a question and answer time.

“We are really not telling parents what to say. We feel that is something the parents can figure out and their prerogative whether they come from more conservative or more liberal view, it really doesn’t matter,” Whittekind said. “It’s just a workshop that is encouraging and trying to give parents the positive experience of being able to talk about sexuality.”

There will also be free baby-sitting available to parents who need it. Parents of fifth graders are welcome to the workshop as well. To register for the event call 248-969-5187 or e-mail renee.lazoen@oxfordschools.org

“I think it’s very encouraging for parents to have something like this because it really gives them the tools to work with their child in communicating about sexual issues and sexuality and talking about the family’s values of that particular subject,” said Cassandra Goulding, counselor with Oxford Addison Youth Assistance. “We’re hoping for a good turnout.”

Oxford Addison Youth Assistance is a department within the Oakland County Circuit Court Family Division. Its mission statement is “to strengthen youth and families and to reduce the incidence of delinquency, abuse and neglect through community involvement.

For more information about Oxford Addison Youth Assistance call 248-969-5187.