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Family Engagement Series: Let’s Be Honest Workshop

Four story brick building with adjacent courtyard
by Riley Burfeind, AmeriCorps VISTA Community Engagement Coordinator

On Friday, June 28th, USES hosted a workshop called Let’s Be Honest: Communication in Families That Keeps Kids Healthy. Led by a knowledgeable and experienced educator from Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, the program is designed to equip parents and caregivers with the information and tools they need to engage in meaningful and important conversations surrounding physical development, sexuality, and sexual health. While many parents and caregivers struggle to comfortably and confidently talk to their children about these complex issues, research shows that these frequent and open conversations enable young people to make healthier, safer, and better informed decisions.

After attendees got a chance to enjoy some food from Manà Escondido Cafe, the facilitator started by identifying a list of shared goals and expectations including open and honest communication, skill development, and privacy. The group then shared experiences and reactions to a series of questions, including “why might it be hard for parents to talk to their kids about sex and sexuality?”, “why is it important to talk to your kids about sex and sexuality?”, and “what exactly do we mean by sexuality?” Ultimately, attendees agreed that they would rather have some control over the information and messages that kids are constantly and unavoidably exposed to through advertisements, friends, toys, teachers and more. The facilitator then dove deeper into the specific tactics and methods parents and caregivers can use to talk through these sensitive issues. Rather than attempting to condense a wealth of information into one formal and often uncomfortable talk, it has proven to be far more effective to engage in little exchanges as specific questions and observations arise. Whether you’re in the car, cooking, or texting, openly addressing relevant and important concerns with your children can go a long way and will likely encourage them to come to you for support in the future.

In addition to leaving with a resource packet and children’s book to help reinforce the lessons communicated during the workshop, participants were asked to write down one important message they wanted to share their child in light of this new information. We hope this event gave parents and caregivers an opportunity to develop strategies for open and honest communication that will lead to stronger relationships and more informed decision making!

We’d also like to thank the Center of Community Service at Northeastern for their generous support in funding our Family Engagement Series.

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