Wholehearted Parenting and Sexual Health

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What do children need from their parents? Last weekend, the Huffington Post ran a beautiful piece called The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.  In it, author Brene Brown urges parents to set aside by-the-book parenting rules and show your children they are loved.

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto by Brene Brown

Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions--the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.

The Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto touches every moment of parenting, but has some special implications for promoting adolescent sexual health.

Consider that ~70% of North Carolina 12th graders have had sex. Or that teens say their parents are their #1 influence on decisions about sex. Or that the decline in North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate is directly tied to increases in contraceptive use.

I wonder about what would happen if more parents adopted the Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto:

  • Would parents and their children be more willing to talk about things like sex, relationships, feelings, values, and dating?
  • Would those conversations be more open and honest?
  • Would more young people have access to the things they need to stay healthy, safe, and responsible: guidance, information, support, condoms, and contraception?

A few years ago, we produced Unconditional, a PSA encouraging parental engagement. Watch it, and consider how Wholehearted Parenting can strengthen your relationship with your child. 


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