Eps 178: Beyond Birds and Bees with Bonnie J Rough

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Today’s guest is Bonnie J. Rough, who is an author, journalist, and speaker focusing on families, health, education, parenting and sexuality. Her latest book is Beyond Birds & Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids about Sex, Love, and Equality. has written recently for the New York Times on teaching young children about boundaries and consent and the value of childhood crushes, The Atlantic on both the link between sex ed and gender equality and improving school sex ed, the Washington Post on why it’s important to teach sex ed in mixed-gender groups, and New York Magazine on raising kids without sexual shame. Join us!


“What I learned is that the focus on helping kids wait longer is really not and should not be the end all. It’s really more about how can we prepare them to have a positive experience.”


“The Dutch parents who I met and the American ones too who have inspired me on this really are prioritizing their relationship with their kids over their ideals about what and when their kids will do things.”


“If we have those open lines of communication we actually have more control than if we forbid.”


“The more open and transparent we can be with our kids the better.”



What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • Cultural differences between the US and Amsterdam around gender equality, nudity, and sexuality

  • Normalizing conversations about sexuality

  • Separating nudity from eroticism

  • Differences in sexual health outcomes between US and Dutch teenagers

  • Ways to keep lines of communication open with your kids

  • Double standards applied to boys and girls

  • Why helping your child maintain cross-gender friendships

  • The importance of knowing your kids’ friends

  • What the research says about teenage sex

  • What to do when you feel you’re late to the party in talking to your kids about sex

  • The importance of not having an agenda when having those curious conversations with kids

  • Owning when we feel awkward or uncomfortable

  • Navigating fear and baggage to become available for conversations with our kids

  • Expanding our own knowledge base to have better conversations


What does Joyful Courage mean to you?

Oh my gosh, to me joyful courage is all about that permission, that freeing sense of permission that I got from observing parents who knew that, you know, making little mistakes in a day to day conversation with our kids about healthy sexuality, it’s meaningless, those little mistakes. The big thing that we’re doing right, you know, having an interest in relating with them on the subject and so when I realize that, you know, it’s not a thing to damage our kids by telling them too much, it’s not a thing to damage our kids by telling them something that wasn’t accurate one day and coming back, circling back to it another day. It’s, you know, knowing that I could be gentle with myself and that we can actually have fun with the conversation once they kind of got to just be a thread through our normal life, you know, basically joyful courage for me is about going headlong into it, you know, with optimism and cheerfulness and hope and trust.



Beyond Birds & Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids about Sex, Love, and Equality


Where to find Bonnie:








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