Learning about sex before sex is the basis for my teaching about sexuality. This is not about telling kids they ought to have sex. It’s about laying the foundation to help us talk more easily and comfortably to our children so they can develop healthy adult sexuality.

The five concepts – Communication, Consent, Respect, Pleasure & Fantasy are complementary to either an abstinence-only or (my personal preference) a comprehensive sex education approach. These 5 Building Blocks to a Healthy Sexuality are items to help you break down “The Talk” into bite-sized conversations about all of the life learnings related to sexuality so parents can have these chats early and often.

Each concept can stand on its own as a guidepost for healthy relationships.


learning about sex before sexhe foundation of any relationship is communication. It should be no surprise that learning and acquiring healthy communication skills is important to good sex life in the future. Being able to communicate, including understanding and relating your feelings and emotions is critical. It’s pretty well-known that male-identified folks aren’t encouraged to share their true feelings, outside of anger, being the stoic “cool guy”, to feel passionate about a sports team, or the clincher – to want sex all the time.  So it’s important to help our children understand that feeling what we really feel is not a bad thing at all. Similarly, learning how to tap into our bodies and communicate our needs, wants, desires AND allowing space for hearing the same from others helps with our relationship strength too. #Iearning about sex before sex

That said, tuning in to and watching for the often silent body language of others is crucial (especially as it relates to the next Building Block – stay tuned). Sometimes folks haven’t been allowed to listen to their bodies so they may not be able to say the words they need to say. Compassion here is critical, as is communication through (consensual) touch. Adults need to be mindful of how we are encouraging and modeling communication in our relationships because our children see us. This includes using the correct terminology without shame because there isn’t any shame in any of the parts of the human body.

Consent #learning about sex before sex

learning about sex before sexThis one has gotten a lot of press over the past 4 or so years. Consent is basically permission to do something, and it extends way beyond sex. For example, asking if it’s okay to take someone’s picture is an example of getting consent. Asking to borrow the car is getting consent. It’s basic stuff, and it’s important. As children, we may not have had the luxury of learning what our boundaries are. Learning agency over our bodies and knowing when something is welcome or not for your own body is critical.

The key to this building block is the word “No.” Learning how to embrace the power and exercise the ability to say NO. And with that, being able to hear and accept “no” for an answer. What are we teaching our kids when we let them walk over our “no”? That they can nag, pout, badger, and coerce someone enough that they give in. Imagine how that looks when they’re dating?


learning about sex before sexRespect for self can be easy, but having a healthy respect for others has to be emphasized. Especially with the internet, the anonymous culture we live in. Hiding behind screens and keyboards prevents us from “seeing” the humanity of others. Respect means Doing No Harm.

We can learn healthy body image and be okay with being nude. The body is not a sexual object to be used and discarded, but rather revered and honored. I’d also like to see us move away from the patriarchal and archaic concept of “virginity” and toward an individually defined “sexual debut”.

Pleasure #learning about sex before sex

learning about sex before sexWhat most people don’t realize is that pleasure is so much more than just sexual pleasure. Many things feel good – there’s nothing wrong with feeling good. In fact, self-care practices fit into this category. Basically, anything that gives you satisfaction, and that could mean being away from people as well. The simple power of human touch like a hug.

Adults, and Americans in particular, make everything about sex and yet they’re almost pleasure-phobic! Yet it’s crucial to teach about pleasure in the realm of sexuality. It’s time to recognize that any sexual pleasure in sexual interactions should be there for any/all parties, not just one person (which historically has been the male). Without pleasure, why would anyone even want to have sex?


learning about sex before sexThis topic can be the most elusive for adults. Our judgmental nature can rob us of the connection we can have with others when we “play”. it’s important to encourage and maintain that childlike curiosity and focus in our kids; watch them when they play. Ask them to act like an adult and look at how un-fun they are! There’s so much when can learn from children. Fantasies are okay and welcome, and sometimes they’re not practical to be acted upon or fulfilled. Learning about sex before sex.

Porn falls under this concept as well. Informing ourselves about sexuality so we can help our children understand that everywhere we learn and get messages about sex, outside of formal education, is just fantasy. Especially Porn. It’s just not how real people engage in real sex.

The bottom line is we want to give our kids agency – choice and control over their bodies. Parents have been in charge since infancy; teaching our kids how to manage and care for their own bodies is one of the best gifts we can give them. Then it’s natural for them to build a healthy, pleasurable, satisfying future. With the education I’ve given my children using these five building blocks, I am very comfortable trusting them and knowing they can make smart and safe decisions. Learning about sex before sex, and I know I’d feel super comfortable if the people they dated knew this stuff too.

read me cover, learning about sex before sexI identified these concepts early into my studies of human sexuality. I believe they can help us talk to kids about sex in ways that help them. If you would like to dive deep into each of these concepts, you can buy my book. There you will find a lot more information and examples .


This topic is my favorite. If you wanna work on getting comfortable with talking about sexuality with me, please click here. I look forward to speaking with you personally.



The MamaSutra


p.s., If you’d like a guide to understanding the changes that are happening during puberty, check out this guide. If you’d like to grab this for yourself AND support the author (me!) directly, grab the book here in my shop. Thank you!


About the Author

The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on themamasutra.com.

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