9 Sexiest Foreplay Tips You Can Ever Use in Bed!

9 SEXIEST FOREPLAY TIPS YOU CAN EVER USE IN BED!

Sarah Summer

Is sex turning boring or predictable? Try these 9 sexiest foreplay tips for men and women and you’ll feel like a frisky horny teen all the time!

Sex is fun and exciting.

Well, it is, at least for the first few months.

And somewhere along the way, it starts to get just a little predictable and just a little boring.

And when you get there, and still don’t do anything to keep the sexual frenzy on a high, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to feel a chore!

Sexual foreplay tips for men and women

You may not realize this, but sexual intimacy is just like romance.

It’s always heart pumping at the beginning, until it runs out of steam and turns predictable and less-than-adrenalin-inducing over time.

And just like you’d rely on gestures and surprises in romance, you need to keep the excitement alive in bed too, by constantly recreating the wheel of sexual passion.

When you’re making love for the first time, as you place your lips on your lover’s body, the sexual tension feels electric. And all you’d need to do is slip your hands into your partner’s shorts to see that they’re all ready and raring to go.

It’s all fun and dandy the first few times, and you won’t have to rely on fancy foreplay to arouse your lover.

But as time goes by, and both of you start to feel just a little more numb to each other’s sexual touches, it’s time to rekindle the passion by arousing the sexual tension straight in each other’s minds.

The right way to sexual foreplay

Remember, as much as it’s worked before, foreplay isn’t just about slipping your hands over your lover’s strategic regions and letting it wriggle about for a few minutes!

If that’s your idea of foreplay, you’re definitely not doing justice to the deed that follows, especially if you’ve been in a relationship for over a few months.

In a seasoned relationship, sexual foreplay is the art of arousing your lover without even getting your hands anywhere near each other’s privates.

If you can master that art, you’d always have the mojo to arouse your lover and keep sex just as exciting as it was the first few times.

The 9 sexiest foreplay tips to burn the sheets in bed!

Does the thought of foreplay in bed stress you out? Or do you wonder what you can do to stimulate your lover and experience the mad rush of passionate sex like a horny one night stand?

Try these 9 foreplay tips, and you’ll see that these tips are not just easy, they’ll explode your mind with sexual ideas and naughty thoughts every time you’re in bed with your sexy other.

#1 Outside the bedroom. Sex is predictable when it’s initiated within the walls of the bedroom. Every now and then, initiate sex outside the bedroom. You don’t have to sit close and slip your hands into your lover’s shorts out of the blue. That’s just predictable again!

Instead, get closer innocently and sit down for a few minutes while watching the television together. Just stroke your lover’s hands or play with their fingers, and when you feel the tingle of love, kiss your partner or cozy up under a blanket. Before you know it, both of you would be having spontaneous sex without even realizing it.

#2 Shock each other. It’s easy to feel sexually desensitized when you see the same package or pair every day, all the time, and at times, even in the most unflattering of circumstances *toilet?*. But by doing something unique and sexually risqué, you can change the numb sensation into a sexual frenzy instantly.

Show your assets off, but shock and awe your partner while doing it. Give your lover a sneak peek in public, sext each other, grind each other on the dance floor, or undress yourself slowly and ask your partner to make love to you while you’re leaning against your bedroom window!

#3 Learn to kiss passionately. Those quick sparrow pecks of goodbye kisses may work while saying goodbye and rushing to office in the mornings. But in bed, that’s one of the biggest sexual turn offs.

Take your time. Even if you’ve kissed your lover a million times, a slow and sensual kiss can still feel just as intimate and sexy as a first kiss. Close your eyes, place your lips on your lover’s lips and play along, while moving your lips softly, slowly and purposefully. Breathe into each other slowly, and just experience the sensation. After all, there is nothing that feels as sexy as a perfect kiss with a lover who knows to kiss you just the way you want to be kissed.

#4 Explore their body. Don’t be in a hurry. As you kiss your lover, run your hands along their back or over their arms or shoulders. Penetration doesn’t have to be the only sexy thing you do in bed. Gently kiss your partner’s neck, their arms and the rest of their body. If your partner moans or relaxes their body, they probably like what you’re doing.

Let your hands linger all over their body, but as you do that, close your eyes and run your lips over the rest of the body. Just experience the way your lover’s body feels against your lips. It’s sensual and arousing, and it’ll surely make both of you feel really horny!

#5 Dirty talk. This is one of the sexiest things in you do in bed. And the best part about dirty talking in bed is that it can help you talk about your darkest sexual fantasies without the fear of being judged by your lover. It’ll bring both of you closer, make both of you feel more intimate, and it’ll open a new door of sexual bliss that’ll make sex feel as exciting as the first time, all the time.

You can talk dirty anywhere, in bed or even in the living room. Just talk about something naughty, be it an incident or a fantasy of yours. All it takes is a few sentences before both of you feel stiff around the loins!

#6 Use a mirror. It’s surprising just how many people find mirrors exciting and fun. Prop a long mirror horizontally on the bed, right next to the both of you. Get naked and play with each other’s bodies while watching each other in the mirror. Just watching your partner getting stroked and teased in the mirror is a huge turn on that’s definitely worth experiencing. And having sex while watching yourselves in the mirror? Well, that just gets even better!

#7 Watch a movie. Sometimes, the stress of foreplay can make sex feel awkward and forced. You know you have to indulge in foreplay, and your partner knows it too. And all the drama and the stress of foreplay can just make you dislike it. So try something else that’ll play the part of good foreplay.

Watch a good porn movie, with a plot that both of you would enjoy. Just slip under the blanket, watch the movie and run your hands against each other. And at some point in the movie, both of you would be more than ready to do the deed yourselves. And then, you get to have sex, watch a sexy porn movie, talk about the acts they’re doing on the movie, and orgasm on a crescendo all at once. Isn’t that just perfect?!

#8 Enact your fantasies. Foreplay is fun for both lovers only when both of you enjoy it. And if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, you may end up hating foreplay and start avoiding sex just to skip the foreplay.

So try something that you know will excite you and your lover at the same time. Do you have a sexual fantasy that makes you feel horny each time you’re alone? Talk about it with your partner, or enact it with them. It could be something sexually taboo, or a role playing idea or something that you’ve always wanted to do in bed. Talk about it with your lover while stroking each other, and try it. As long it arouses both of you, it’s something that’ll help both of you experience a sexual fantasy and make sex more exciting at the same time.

#9 Naughty games. There’s nothing like a bit of fun in bed to take the stress off sexual foreplay and make sex feel naughtier, kinkier and a lot sexier. Don’t focus on foreplay, and don’t think of sex. On a lazy afternoon or evening, just get into bed, and play a few dirty games. And once you start enjoying these games, you’d want to play them every single day!

Sex can truly be the sexiest thing on earth, even if you’ve been doing it with the same person for several years. All it takes is a few naughty twists to make it as exciting as the first time, every few months.

And if you use these 9 sexual foreplay tips for men and women the next time in bed, you’ll realize how dirty and naughty each of these tips can really be. And you’ll learn just how easy it is to improvise on these 9 ideas and create a new personal sexual foreplay tip yourself!

14 Tips to Get Your Partner to Open Up about Sex

14 TIPS TO GET YOUR PARTNER TO OPEN UP ABOUT SEX

Christopher Villa

Do you want your partner or spouse to open up and talk about sex, their interests and the things they want to try in bed? Well, here’s the right way!

Are you having a hard time talking about sex with your partner?

Sometimes, talking about sex is always an awkward moment, especially if you’re in a new relationship.

And at other times, you could be in a seasoned relationship and still feel uncomfortable discussing sex because you’re afraid you may be judged.

If you want to take an initiate to talk about sex, but your partner seems too embarrassed to discuss their ideas and thoughts with you, fret not.

14 tips to get your partner to open up and talk about sex

You can turn even the most prudish of lovers with locked up secrets into a serial confessor using these 14 tips on how you can get your lover to start talking about sex.

Start slow, and take a few baby steps using these tips.

And before you know it, you’ll feel closer to your partner.

And your sex life will feel more awesome and fresh with every passing day!

#1 Past experiences. Don’t confess about your past experiences, especially if your partner doesn’t know just how sexually liberated and active you’ve been before you met your lover. Surprisingly, most partners prefer to stay in the dark instead of hearing their partner’s confession about their kinky past.

If you’re sure your partner would be able to handle your past, slip a few details now and then and watch how they react to it over a couple of weeks.

But if you want your partner to open up about sex talk, let your lover know that you’ve had partners before, and that you’re open to trying new things if it could make both your sex lives more interesting and fascinating!

#2 Avoid the serious talk. ‘We need to talk about sex’ is the last thing you should say if you want to broach the topic of sex and sexual fantasies. Well, that’s unless one of you say something that offends the other.

The best time to talk about sex is when both of you are in bed. The second best time to talk about it is when both of you are just fooling around or relaxing around the house. The third best time to talk about it is when the opportune moment crops up, either because of something a friend said or something you saw on the telly or in a magazine *or in Lovepanky!*

#3 Speak in third person. If you’re feeling terribly awkward about the impending sexual conversation, talk about a *friend of yours* who likes a particular fantasy or has indulged in a particular sexual act.

It’s easier to talk in third person, and if your partner likes the idea, you can always smile sheepishly and confess that you were talking about yourself!

#4 Naughty questions. Want to explore sexual ideas and fantasies without feeling awkward about it? There’s no better way to do that than by using our list of dirty questions. Try them, and you’ll see just how much both of you can learn about each other’s sexual interests in under an hour!

#5 Don’t push it. Don’t go overboard while trying to please your partner, or to prove that you love their idea even if you don’t. Just because your partner enjoys something doesn’t mean they expect you to enjoy the same things. Sometimes, it takes a compromise between sexual interests. And at other times, it has to be a complete no-no.

Talk to your partner about your sexual interests, or hear theirs out. Take some time for the ideas to sink in, and if it’s something you just can’t do, be frank and tell your lover about it *without making them feel judged!*

#6 Delay penetration. What do you do when you get into bed to make love? Do you rush into the act because you find your lover irresistible? Well, stop and take it slow the next few times you’re in bed with them.

Taking it slow in bed, and talking about things either of you enjoy can be a revelation that can make your sex life a lot more interesting. Take time to explore each other, talk about things both of you enjoy and try new things that feel good in bed.

#7 Start the conversation with a confession. But don’t go overboard just yet. If you’ve been trying to ask your partner what they enjoy, and your partner just blushes coyly or pretends like they’re interested in nothing but the missionary, don’t push them on.

Instead, make a small and calculated confession. Brush the surface of something you enjoy and tell your partner about it. And see how your boyfriend or girlfriend reacts to your little confession. Taking it slow can help your partner test their own boundaries without assuming you’re a sexual deviant!

#8 Talk dirty in bed. Dirty talk kicks butt, especially when both of you are completely comfortable to explore each other’s sexual minds without feeling inhibited by it.

If you want your partner to open up to you and talk about the things they enjoy sexually, just start talking about something naughty or dirty while having sex with each other. One thing would lead to another, and before you know it, you’ll unleash a wildcat. And oh yes, the sex will blow your mind too!

#9 Don’t clam up. Don’t judge your partner. Just because your partner says they’ve fantasized about having a threesome or that they like the idea of public flashing doesn’t make them a bad person. All of us have our own sexual fantasies, and as tame as yours may seem to you, there’s a big chance you’ll shock many with your own imagination!

If your partner trusts you enough to share their deepest, darkest fantasies with you, the least you can do is let your partner know you accept them for who they are. On the other hand, if you clam up and appear shocked or annoyed, your partner may feel ashamed and never ever open up to you again!

#10 That annoying feeling. If something your partner says bothers you or pricks you hard, sit down with your partner. Calmly and cautiously, tell them how you feel, all the while reassuring them that you’re not judging them but just trying to understand their sexual side better.

On the other hand, if your partner’s sex talk or sexual fantasies arouse or interest you, ask your partner to elaborate so you can add your own dark experiences and interests into the conversation.

#11 Sex suggestions aren’t criticisms. Understand this well, and remember it. If your partner tells you something in bed that offends you, even for a moment, you need to realize that your partner is revealing it to you only to make both your sex lives better. And your partner isn’t saying it just to hurt you or make you feel humiliated in bed.

Accept criticisms in bed gracefully, or even laugh about it. But make sure you remember it so your partner can feel comfortable enough to share their secrets with you in future too.

#12 The right time. Don’t say the wrong things at the wrong time. If your partner talks dirty or shares a fantasy that you don’t particularly appreciate while having sex, don’t stop the to-and-fro midway and stare at your partner with a shocked expression. And talking about something embarrassing or awkward immediately after having sex isn’t advisable either.

If you really want to go into details about a particular fantasy of your lover’s, talk to them about it a while after they mention it, so they don’t feel judged or insulted by your question.

#13 Be open to the conversation. Ask open ended questions when you’re talking about sex secrets with your husband or wife, and try to see things from their perspective before making judgments.

Discuss things both of you enjoy, and take baby steps into the world of exploring sexual fantasies and dirty ideas together. If it works and something makes both of you super horny, well, good for you guys! And if it doesn’t excite you or your partner, move on, there are enough sexual ideas to set your sexual passion on fire! And it all starts with communication.

#14 Don’t be a prude. Look, if you want to talk about sex and kinky ideas, you might as well throw prudishness out of the window, and prepare yourself for a wild ride of sexual exploration. Reveal your fantasies, get kinky and start by telling the truth about the things you enjoy and the new things you want to try in bed.

Holding your sexual thoughts close to your heart and expecting sex to magically get better with each passing day as the infatuation wears off is like asking for a miracle every time you have sex.

Open your mind, and explore the world of sexual fantasies and dark desires together. And as kinky or as naughty as you may think an idea is, believe me, it’s all been said and done by someone else before!

Use these 14 tips to get your partner to open up and talk about sex effortlessly. And most importantly, you have to remember that we live in a world full of sexual fantasies and deviant thoughts. And as freaky as you think you are, your fantasy isn’t as unique or shocking as you think. So don’t be ashamed. You’re never alone!

10 Tips to Help You Open Up About Your Kinky Side

10 TIPS TO HELP YOU OPEN UP ABOUT YOUR KINKY SIDE

Team Lovepanky

Telling your partner about an unusual thing that turns you on may be disconcerting. But it doesn’t have to be, when you’ve got these tips on hand!

Before you start spinning all those negative thoughts in your head, take a deep breath. A kink isn’t the end of the world – far from it. In fact, it may even bring you closer together. When you’ve got trust in your relationship, you can be pretty sure that your partner won’t just pack up and leave once he or she knows about your particular kink. On the contrary, opening up about something that you find difficult to talk about may even strengthen your relationship!

How to open up about your kinky side

When you’re at your wit’s end when it comes to telling your partner about what turns you on, these 10 tips will help you out!

#1 Change your frame of mind. Try to focus on the positive aspects of telling your partner about your kink. Don’t think about a kinky confession as something that is going to tear you two apart. Instead, think about it as something fun and exciting that you two could explore together. Imagine if you heard a really good band – you’d want to share that experience with your partner, wouldn’t you?

If you approach your kink as something that you’re ashamed of, it will be cast in a negative light. Your partner may even wonder why you seem so negative about it… does it go deeper than they think? But by showing it in a positive, friendly light, you reinforce the fact that it really isn’t a big deal. It’s just something that happens to be a part of your personality… the personality of the person that they like and love.

#2 Practice what you’re going to say. Stand in front of a mirror and rehearse your words. Obviously, you aren’t going to be declaring your kink in front of an audience, but practice helps. Not only will it relax you, but it will also show you that really, in the scope of things, this isn’t that big of a deal. A lot of times we work ourselves up for nothing.

Try to think of the questions that they might ask – however outlandish. Doing this will reduce the amount of fear and uncertainty you feel, because you’ll feel as though you’re prepared for anything that they throw at you.

#3 Set aside some time in a private location. Atmosphere matters. Don’t spring your kink on your beloved in the middle of a crowded dining room or before he or she runs off to work. Instead, a cozy, romantic evening at home can be the perfect time to explore your sexuality and explain what really makes you tick. A good, full discussion of your sexual future may take up to two or three hours. It’s better to schedule more time than to be cut short and let your partner leave with unfinished thoughts weighing upon their mind.

#4 Be as specific as you can be. Once you let the floodgates loose, you may start tripping over your words or trying to rush through things. You may take a quick “affirmative” from your partner, and end the conversation prematurely. You may take a quick “negative” from your partner and then try to play it all off as a joke. Don’t do this!

Here’s the thing. You’ve spent a lot of time thinking about your kink, right? Well, your kink is going to be as much of your partner’s sex life as it is a part of yours, and they’ve had absolutely no time to think about it. Their mind is going to be racing. Don’t let their mind race off on a journey alone. You have to be very specific about what you do or don’t need.

Make sure that you discuss the difference between a kink and a fetish. Kinks are just things that, to put it delicately, rev up your engine. They don’t always need to be involved in your sex life – it’s just more fulfilling if they are sometimes. A fetish is something that has to be involved in your sex life all the time – and that’s usually considered unhealthy. Many inexperienced partners, when confronted with a kink, may worry that it’s a fetish! Make sure that you specify!

#5 Don’t get too defensive. Some people have preconceived notions about kinks. Society places a lot of ideas in a person’s head about the “proper” ways to have sex. Don’t be discouraged if your partner initially laughs or thinks it’s funny. They may not realize just how you feel. Getting defensive will only make the situation worse!

But by the same token, don’t be afraid to defend yourself if your value as a person is questioned. “That sounds weird!” is a somewhat understandable comment for someone inexperienced to make. “You are weird!” is not. Don’t let anyone shame you regarding your kink. As long as it isn’t hurting anyone, there’s nothing to be ashamed of!

#6 Give them room to ask questions. A one-sided conversation isn’t a conversation at all… it’s just a speech. Ask your partner to ask any questions that they have and don’t treat any question as stupid or silly. Everyone comes from different backgrounds, and what may seem perfectly ordinary to you may be something that they simply haven’t experienced before.

#7 Test the waters a step at a time. Remember that you can’t just throw someone into a kink that you’ve had your whole life and expect them to swim in the deep end. Test out the waters slowly at first, and always let your partner know exactly what you’re doing – no one wants something unexpected sprung on them in the heat of the moment, even if it may seem more passionate that way!

Introduce it to them in small stages, and discuss it with them beforehand. “Maybe next time we could…” is a good way to start this conversation. And be open to them saying that they need some time or if they have any suggestions to make them feel more comfortable.

#8 Make your partner feel comfortable. After you have tested out your kink, you need to discuss it with your partner. Don’t just assume that because you’re on the path that you wanted to be on, that everything is OK – there could be a lot going on in the undercurrents.

Find out if there was anything that made them uncomfortable or anything that intrigued them. Let them know how much you appreciate them by being on board with you, and that you know how lucky you are to have a loving partner.

Everyone deserves a healthy sex life, but that doesn’t mean that a partner owes it to you to do these things – they do it because they love you. This is especially true if your kink is something that your partner just isn’t into at all.

#9 Don’t forget to reciprocate. Usually, opening up a discussion about kinks will also lead to your partner opening up about their own sexual needs! If it doesn’t, make sure that you’ve made it clear to your partner that you want to know what will make them happy, too.

But don’t be surprised or confused if your partner doesn’t have a kink. It can be easy for people with kinks to assume that everyone has one and that they are just hiding them. Some people really don’t have any kinks and that’s fine, too.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that they don’t have a preference. A person without a kink likely prefers “vanilla” sexual experiences – so those shouldn’t be neglected in the bedroom either.

#10 Know when to let it go. Some partners can’t deal with some kinks. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’s your partner’s prerogative to decide what they find fulfilling in their sex life. You can’t change how a person is or what makes them uncomfortable.

Of course, if your partner demeans or belittles you regarding your kink, you would know that they aren’t the right person for you after all. You’ve just dodged a bullet, and it’s good that you did it as early as possible. But if your partner and you simply can’t see eye to eye regarding your sexual needs, then it may just not have been meant to be.

Revealing your kink to your partner can be scary – but hiding it is even worse. The last thing you want to do is create a strong relationship built on a lie, however slight that lie may be. Sex is an important part of any healthy relationship, and dishonesty about what interests and excites you in bed will only make it harder for both, you and your partner, in the long term. 

Meaning of Safe Words & How to Use Them When You’re Playing Rough

MEANING OF SAFE WORDS & HOW TO USE THEM WHEN YOU’RE PLAYING ROUGH

Natasha Ivanovic

You know people use safe words but haven’t tried it yourself. Why do you even need a safe word? We’re going to share the meaning of safe words.

If you’re like me when I was younger, then you may not completely understand the meaning of safe words or how to use it. That’s okay because that’s why I’m here.

Up until a couple of years ago, I never used a safe word. I didn’t actually know they existed. In my head, I thought that when you said “stop” it meant to stop. Or when you push someone off of you and say “ouch” that’s a decent sign that what just happened caused you negative pain. I was so vanilla back then. I knew very little about the BDSM community and that’s actually where the whole concept of a safe word originated.

The meaning of safe words

A safe word is a word that you and your partner choose pre-sex, that either partner can use when they feel that the experience is becoming too much. The minute you say the safe word, all sexual activity stops. The dominant partner stops what they’re doing to their partner. It’s basically like a sexual time-out.

Having a safe word provides the submissive partner the opportunity to express to their partner if the pain becomes uncomfortable. Of course, if you’re dominant, you may not exactly know the strength you have. When you’re in the power position, you can get carried away. It happens to everyone.

But now, the concept of a safe word has reached past the BDSM community, making its way into mainstream culture as many couples now have a safe word for when they’re in the bedroom. You don’t have to be tied to a bed or having wax poured on your back in order to know when you’ve had enough.

The great part of a safe word is that it allows you to have fun and explore your sexual boundaries while giving you the opportunity to stop at any time. You basically create an exit that gets you out of the situation. Plus, by using a safe word, you’re free to say whatever you want, even if it’s “that hurt” or “stop.” Because your safe word is usually something non-sexual that you would never use in the bedroom.

But do safe words actually work in real life?

Listen, there are some instances where using a safe word will be difficult. For example, if your partner has gagged you, you’re not going to be able to speak properly. Though, just because you cannot verbalize your safe word, doesn’t mean you cannot create a gesture which means stop. Many people found different ways to show their safe word when unable to say it.

Now, if you’re not into BDSM, that’s cool. You can still use it effectively for consent. During sex, sometimes it can get a little rough. For many people, instead of saying stop, they feel uncomfortable and just wait until it’s over.

I understand why people do that, they feel bad saying something. But with a safe word, you’re nicely telling your partner the boundaries in a way which doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable. You don’t need to explain anything, you simply say your safe word. They stop. So, yes, a safe word actually does work in real life.

How do you choose your safe word?

Now that you know the meaning of safe words and the reason they exist, you may be curious how to find a safe word. Well, there are a couple things to consider when thinking of a safe word.

#1 Use one word. You don’t need a safe word that’s going to be two or three words long. You need one short and strong word that indicates to your partner that they’re going too far. It’s easier not only for you, but also for your partner. You want them to be able to clearly hear and understand the word.

#2 It can be a random word. You do not want your safe word to be something that can be used in the bedroom. In other words, don’t make your safe word “yes” or “no” or “spank me.” Choose a word that no one would hear in a sexual encounter and something that sounds so out of place, your partner notices it right away.

#3 Make sure it’s easy to pronounce. If you cannot say it properly while you’re jogging, then you shouldn’t use it as a safe word. Remember, you want your safe word to be easily audible as that’s the whole point. Make sure you can clearly say it.

#4 Tell your partner the word. You cannot just have a safe word and not tell your partner the word. You need to tell them the word. Make sure they understand what they need to do once they hear the word. Does it mean that they completely stop? Does it mean they continue but be gentler? You decide and then tell them.

#5 Use a common safe word. There are a couple common safe words that many people use which seem to do the trick. These words follow the suggestions above. So, they’re quite effective at what they’re supposed to do.

The most common safe words to use

Not feeling inspired to choose a safe word? Don’t worry, here are some of the most common safe words people use during sex.

#1 The traffic light system. This is an easy way to alert your partner of what they need to do. You say ‘red’ to stop, ‘yellow’ for your partner to slow down, and ‘green’ for them to keep going. All three words are short and sweet to say, plus, everyone can relate to them easily.

#2 Safe word. This is a great safe word when you simply don’t like any of the other safe words, but, can’t come up with your own. Safe word is pretty dull, and well, it’s very clear as to why you’re saying it.

#3 Apple. Well, it’s a pretty unsexy word, in general. So, that’s probably why it’s so popular. If your partner hears ‘apple’ during sex, they should know it’s meant for them to stop.

#4 Vanilla. This is associated with having vanilla, non-kinky sex. If you say vanilla, it’s a cute association that you want your partner to ease up on you and take a gentler route.

#5 Pineapple. I guess this is truly a word you’d never use in the bedroom… unless you’re into pineapples. If so, don’t use this as your safe word. But, pineapple is actually an extremely popular safe word as it’s highly unlikely that they’ll mix it up with anything else.

#6 Unicorn. Yeah, you were probably getting used to all the fruit safe words, but don’t get too comfortable just yet! Unicorn is another common safe word. I guess the odds of you seeing one during sex is pretty rare.

#7 Banana. Unless you refer to your partner’s penis as a banana, I’m pretty sure this is a good a safe word to use.

See, the meaning of safe words doesn’t have to sound serious. You can have fun choosing one and use it in a way that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable when telling your partner that you’d like to stop.

Getting Back to Sex After Pregnancy Loss

GETTING BACK TO SEX AFTER PREGNANCY LOSS

Jessica Zucker

Though your body might be ready to return to sex after a miscarriage, are you?

How soon can you have sex after experiencing a pregnancy loss? It’s a common question among women of childbearing age, considering that up to 20 percent of pregnancies result in miscarriage and approximately 1 in 100 in stillbirth. There’s not a standard — or straightforward — answer. Generally, physicians counsel patients to wait until they feel ready. But readiness for a woman and her partner can depend on a number of physical, and emotional, factors.

“From a medical and practical perspective, the primary thing is to ensure that the pregnancy has passed completely, the cervix has closed, and that there isn’t an increased risk of causing infection in the uterus,” explained Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility and an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. “The timing for this depends on how far along the pregnancy was at the time of the loss and how quickly the woman’s body recovers.”

A couple’s romantic readiness is another question altogether.

Emotional roadblocks are a big factor: Women may feel reluctant to engage in sexual intimacy while still grieving their loss. Miscarriage can also change a woman’s relationship with her body, and what sex represents to a couple might shift. If this seems hard to understand, it is: I am a psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive and maternal mental health, and I didn’t fully comprehend how complex returning to sex could be until I experienced a second trimester miscarriage firsthand. Then I understood all too well: There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

“There are no guidelines with regard to telling patients what to expect about returning to sex after miscarriage. Routinely, we don’t discuss sex after loss unless patients bring it up,” said Jessica Schneider, M.D., an ob-gyn at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “There’s research about how safe it is to get pregnant again after a loss, but not about sexual function or satisfaction.” And the fact is, sexual function and satisfaction can, and do, change.

I talked to several women about their experiences around sex after pregnancy loss to find out how they approached returning to intimacy. (The women preferred their last names not be used due to privacy concerns.)

Some women, like Ash, 36, felt ready to have sex right away. After experiencing a stillbirth, she turned to sex for healing. “It was a way to feel powerful in my body,” she said. “I felt like my body had failed me, and sex was a way to get that back.” There was one caveat though: She didn’t want to risk another pregnancy. “It felt better to engage in sexual acts that couldn’t result in one.”

Trying to get pregnant again is a sensitive topic medically and emotionally. The World Health Organization’s official stance is to wait six months before attempting another pregnancy. Recent research, however, suggests that having sex sooner doesn’t have a negative effect on future pregnancies and could actually help success rates.

“The doctor told us to wait until we were comfortable,” said Maria, 26, who has had four miscarriages. “It was nerve-wracking to return to sex. I think because I was terrified of getting pregnant again and losing it or not getting pregnant again. It was challenging mentally.”

It’s understandable to feel conflicted, but the odds of future success are good: Up to 85 percent of women who experience a pregnancy loss, and 75 percent of women who have had multiple losses, go on to have a healthy pregnancy.

Shame and self-blame can enter the bedroom after pregnancy loss and create trouble where there previously was none. Hanan, 27, thought she was ready to have sex again immediately after a stillbirth, though her doctor told her to wait six weeks. She said she felt arousal and the desire to have sex, and engaged with her husband in everything other than penetrative sex, while waiting for medical clearance. But the first time they had intercourse, she wasn’t prepared for her emotional reaction. “I cried so much after the first time. I felt very guilty,” she said. “My body wanted to, but my brain didn’t. It felt selfish and immoral — like I should have been celibate while grieving.”

These thoughts are especially challenging for women who are actively trying to conceive again. “I did not want to initiate sex after my loss, but at the same time, I did want to get pregnant again,” said Maggie, 32. “My vagina became a constant reminder of the loss.”

Some women said they resented their bodies for a perceived failure. “After my miscarriage, I couldn’t be with anyone for over a year,” Zachi, 27, told me. “The fact that my body failed impacted the way I felt sexually afterward. I carried the baby emotionally, long after physically.”

While a 2015 survey found that 47 percent of respondents who had experienced a miscarriage reported feeling guilty about it — and nearly three-quarters thought their actions may have caused it — the reality is that chromosomal abnormalities are the explanation in about 60 percent of miscarriages. Pregnancy loss cannot be prevented.

If you’ve been trying to conceive for a long time, sex following a pregnancy loss can become especially fraught — even unappealing.

“After my first miscarriage, we only had sex to conceive. It started to feel like a task,” said Gina, 30, who has experienced infant loss and two miscarriages. “That mentality compounded after my second miscarriage and killed all sexual desire for me.”

Sonali, 33, who has lost four pregnancies, had difficulty returning to the very place she got pregnant. “Sex with your other half in the bed where you conceived the babies you lost is so triggering,” she said.

“Sometimes, I’m thinking about where I’d be in my pregnancy now; how I wouldn’t be able to have sex in this position,” Maria said. “It makes me feel guilty to feel great, when I should be seven months pregnant and uncomfortable.”

Pregnancy loss can have unintended positive impacts on a woman’s sexuality, too. Zachi said that she is more assertive in her sex life because of her miscarriage. “I have to listen to my body now,” she said. “It becomes painful not to. I am a lot more sure in what I want.” A miscarriage ultimately brought Maggie and her husband closer together, she said. “During the loss, I felt like I was on an island,” she remembered. “The first time my husband and I had penetrative sex, I cried from relief, because I felt so re-connected to him.”

Having and enjoying sex again is really about one thing — personal readiness — which is what I tell my patients. It’s O.K. to feel grief and sexual desire simultaneously. “Moving on” is not a prerequisite for pleasure.

5 Simple (But Essential) Reasons to Stop Watching Porn Today

5 SIMPLE (BUT ESSENTIAL) REASONS TO STOP WATCHING PORN TODAY

Greg Hintz

He sat there, broken and exposed like never before.

“I didn’t think it would end like this. I didn’t think it would go so far.” He whispered the words through tears and gritted teeth.

I had worked with people suffering from pornography addiction very closely for the past three years, but I hadn’t seen this level of loss. A marriage destroyed. A family severed. A high level career in shambles. A man at the brink of giving up on life.

I broke the silence. “What? What wouldn’t go so far?”

“Pornography.” He looked me square in the eyes. “Porn just grabbed a hold of me and wouldn’t let go. It consumed my life.”

This man’s story is like many men’s stories. Porn has a way of sinking its talons deep into our lives and not letting go. Many people don’t think that porn will have a negative effect on their life. They don’t know the full ramifications or the incredibly adverse effects that continued exposure to pornography can have. That is, until it goes too far.

So, whether you are just getting started or find yourself stuck in the quick sand of pornography, let me give you five straightforward but essential reasons to quit today.

1. Better Relationships

Did you know that there is a 300% increase in divorce for homes where one or more people in the relationship regularly look at pornography?¹

In Scripture, Jesus says, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28).

There is a connection with those we ‘lust after’ that will get in the way of our relationship every time. Our eyes and attention are called to be in one direction, but porn has a way of diverting our attention in many different directions.

Giving up porn will remove the massive barrier standing in front of our relationships and focus our attention on restoration.

2.  Free Space in Your Mind

Porn happens to be fantastic at forming new, long-lasting pathways in the brain. Over time, these images or videos become burned into the brain, taking up space. These memories can turn into objectification of the people you see every day, repeating these images in your mind over and over again.

As these images or videos increase, so does the space that is stored up in our minds. There is an acronym often used to describe the effect that these images have on our mind and our daily interactions. It’s FOE. It stand for “fantasy,” “objectification,” and “euphoric recall.”

Porn will increase the amount of FOEs that we face each day.

Quitting porn, however, will free up space in your mind that can be used for good, not objectification.

3. Better Sex

Some of you are wondering why I didn’t start with this one!

Did you know that porn can cause erectile dysfunction in men? That’s right, no more erections! In fact, psychiatry professor Norman Doidge reported in his book The Brain That Changes Itself that removal of internet pornography use reversed impotence and sexual arousal problems in his patients.

I am reminded of the words of Jesus when he said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and life abundantly” (John 10:10).

Isn’t it just like the devil to entice us to see all the sexually explicit things that we want, and then have the ability to enjoy sexual activity with another stripped away? You deserve to have great sex and that starts with taking the pornography out of your life.

4. Less Stress

Watching porn has a natural way of increasing stress and releasing cortisol (a steroid hormone) into your system. However, think about the stress you feel every time someone is on your computer, looking at your Netflix queue, or asking to borrow your phone. That stress would be completely lifted off by quitting porn. There will no longer be that fear or shame of “being caught.”

I heard a saying the other day that went like this: “The best gift you can give yourself is the gift of a clean conscience.”

How true this is! I have been on both sides of the coin. I have had that fear and stress controlling me, and I’ve also been on the side of a clean conscience. There is no question as to where I’d rather be. I’m grateful for less stress.

5. Living in Integrity

Integrity has been described as “living with the lights on” or “acting the same in front of people as you do when no one is watching.” Some would describe this as living with authenticity—being true to YOU. By quitting porn, many begin to live in truth and integrity.

I have never found someone who said, “Watching porn is helping me become my best self!” In fact, the reaction from everyone I’ve talked to has been quite the opposite. Pornography has caused them to live outside of their values, keeping secrets and lying to those they love the most. When you live in integrity, you are able to be the same person no matter where you find yourself.

One of my favorite conversations can be found in the book Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll. There is a scene where Alice is lost. She is trying to figure out where to go, but there are all of these signs pointing in different directions. As she is trying to make the right choice, the Cheshire Cat shows up.

Their conversation goes like this:

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

Alice: “I don’t much care where.”

The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

Alice: “… So long as I get somewhere.”

The Cheshire Cat: “Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”

For some reading this article, you’ve walked long enough. This is your moment. Change is sitting right in front of you, but you will have to take that first step. You will have to make the decision of where you “want to get to.” Is it a life free from porn? Is it a place of honesty and integrity? Is it living authentically?

If so, you’re in the right place. So, take that first step today! Decide where you want to get to and begin your journey to a porn-free life!

¹ “Internet Pornography by the Numbers: A Significant Threat to Society.” Webroot. n.d. Web.

Fighting Constantly After Baby? Read This

FIGHTING CONSTANTLY AFTER BABY? READ THIS

Jessica Grose

THE GIST

  • The vast majority of parents are less satisfied with their marriages after they have kids than they were before.
  • Mothers in heterosexual relationships report the lowest levels of marital satisfaction, mostly because they tend to take on more “second shift” work — housework and child care — than their partners do.
  • Listing and dividing household tasks (including child care) make both partners feel a greater sense of fairness, though those tasks do not have to be divided 50/50. 
  • Maintaining a sexual connection is also important — and reestablishing that connection takes time postpartum. 

The lowest point of my marriage was probably when I was excessively pregnant with our second daughter. It was 90 degrees outside every day, and I had blown past my due date with no signs of labor. I had trouble falling asleep but had finally drifted off one night when my husband came home from a work event and woke me up. I had a brief and fleeting desire to bludgeon him with a bedside lamp. 

I’m not alone: The majority of studies on marital satisfaction suggest that couples are less happy after they become parents, though the degree and length of unhappiness is more of an open question. Deeply unpleasant thoughts about your spouse will probably flit through your mind at some point during your child’s first year, mostly because of the extreme exhaustion infants create in their parents (there’s a reason extreme sleep deprivation is considered torture). 

I spoke to three experts — including a New York Times-bestselling author, a sociologist and a relationship-focused psychotherapist — about how to keep relations as positive as possible during your transition to parenthood. All the experts I spoke with said that taking a transparent, proactive approach to dividing household work — including child care — was the number one way to keep the rage-beast of new parenthood at bay. 

WHAT TO DO

Don’t be surprised if you’re not happy.

Though it’s normal for satisfaction to decline in any relationship over time, research performed within the past decade suggests that new mothers may be most vulnerable to that dip. Sociologists theorize that, in heterosexual relationships, mothers are more unhappy with their marriages after they have children because they tend to take on more “second shift” work — child care and housework — and begin to feel that their relationships are no longer fair. Surveys have shown that whether they work or not, mothers are doing more child care than fathers are. 

There is less data about same-sex and gender non-conforming couples, but there is some — albeit dated — evidence that biological mothers in lesbian couples spend more time doing child care than their partners do (though their partners still spend more time on child care than fathers in heterosexual relationships). Lesbian and gay couples tend to divide housework in a more egalitarian way than heterosexual couples do.

Take the same amount of parental leave as your partner (if you can).

If at all possible, make sure both partners are taking identical amounts of leave. Jennifer Senior, an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times and author of the bestselling “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” said that imbalance in leave-taking can set the stage for an imbalance of caretaking that can last for years. The parent who takes less leave has less experience soothing the baby. So the parent who takes more leave — almost always the biological mother — becomes the default “baby whisperer,” because she has more experience. It’s hard to get out of that pattern once you’re in it. In countries where parents tend to take equal amounts of leave, like in Canada or Sweden, marital satisfaction rates are higher. The unfairness extends even to sleep: Past research has found that working mothers in America are significantly more likely to get up during the night with a sick or wakeful child than working fathers are — and sleep is more equal in countries with more egalitarian policies in place.

Manage your expectations.

“Take the image of the ideal parent and throw it in the garbage,” said Dr. Leah Ruppanner, Ph.D., a sociologist at the University of Melbourne who specializes in family and gender. She gives this advice especially to mothers, because there are much more aggressive cultural expectations about what a good mother is supposed to be. According to the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans still believe that women do a better job caring for new babies than men do (only 1 percent of Americans think men do a better job), and almost 80 percent believe women face a lot of pressure to be an involved parent. 

Make a list of tasks, and divide them fairly.

Senior suggested that parents should list all of their household tasks, including child care, and divide them in a way that seems fair — not equitable. For example: If one partner works 15 hours more a week than the other partner, then they will probably be doing fewer hours of house- and child-related work. But all the experts we spoke with agreed that ad hoc arrangements led to the most strife (and, in hetero couples, usually leave the mom feeling shafted). Merely making the list provides a way for parents to work through all of the potential pain points. 

Get granular with your list.

The writer Alix Kates Shulman created a “Marriage Agreement” with her husband when she had children, so that household responsibilities would be distributed fairly. She wrote about it in 1970, and her list gets very specific: “Transportation: Getting children to and from lessons, doctors, dentists, friends’ houses, park, parties, movies, library, etc. Making appointments. Parts occurring between 3:00 and 6:30 p.m. fall to wife. Husband does all weekend transportation and pickups after 6.” Senior said you should get as granular as possible when you’re listing and dividing chores — the more specific you get, the less resentment will fester.

Don’t be a maternal gatekeeper.

Some mothers believe themselves to be the superior parent, and engage in what sociologists refer to as “maternal gatekeeping” — they mediate their spouses’ interactions with their children. Practically speaking it often means nitpicking: “Why are you swaddling Ruby that way?”; “Jasper doesn’t like his bottle so cold.” If mothers want child care to be divided fairly, they have to let fathers do things their own way, even if it’s not your way (if the child is truly in danger, that’s another story — you should always intervene in that case). “You’re letting them learn how to respond to the kids,” Ruppanner said. “They learn how to do it. It’s not astrophysics.” 

Ruppanner suggested that if a parent is really struggling not to meddle, they should physically leave the house when their spouse is on duty — go for a run, take a nap, give yourself some personal time. 

Redefine your sex life.

Having a child is a “complete reorganization of the structure of your life,” said Esther Perel, M.A., L.M.F.T., a psychotherapist and author of the book “Mating inCaptivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” — and that includes your sex life. Many biological parents are given the go-ahead to have sex six weeks postpartum, but that’s because “at six weeks you can be penetrated without tearing,” Perel said — and that doesn’t mean you’re ready for it physically or psychologically. Perel added that it could take as long as a year before you’re ready to have penetrative sex — so don’t be discouraged if you’re feeling uneasy at six weeks. It takes time to re-establish the rhythm and get used to a changed body and a restructured life.

Parents who gave birth need time to recover, and nursing parents may experience vaginal dryness because of lowered estrogen levels. About 90 percent of mothers resume sex within six months of birth, though 83 percent are experiencing sexual issues three months postpartum, and 64 percent are still experiencing issues at six months. Perel encouraged parents to “broaden their erotic interests” outside of penetrative sex and experiment with new erogenous zones. Continuing to connect sexually is important for keeping those hostile feelings at bay, for both parents. “On the long list of what your kids need, making sure the couple remains intimately connected remains very high,” Perel said. “There’s nothing holding a family together except the contentment of the couple.”

SOURCES

Jennifer Senior, author of “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” July 24, 2018

Dr. Leah Ruppanner, Ph.D., associate professor and co-director of The Policy Labat the University of Melbourne, July 25, 2018

Esther Perel, M.A., L.M.F.T., author of “Mating inCaptivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence” Aug. 3, 2018

Who Helps with Homework? Parenting Inequality and Relationship Quality Among Employed Mothers and Fathers,” Journal of Family and Economic Issues, March 2018

Gender Equality and Restless Sleep Among Partnered Europeans,” Journal of Marriage and Family, 2018

7 facts about U.S. moms,” Pew Research Center, May 10, 2018

Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder Is Now Officially Recognized

COMPULSIVE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR DISORDER IS NOW OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED

Brad Hambrick

Sexual addiction is becoming an official mental health diagnosis. The World Health Organization (WHO) met in May of this year and adopted the new ICD-11, which includes the diagnosis of Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD).

Covenant Eyes users might think, “What does this mean for my struggle with porn? How should we approach this diagnosis?” These are important questions that I want to help you think thoroughly about.

What Is Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder?

If you care to read the official definition for CSBD, here it is. These types of definitions can be technical, but they’re important to understand:

“Compulsive sexual behavior disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of failure to control intense repetitive sexual impulses or urges, resulting in repetitive sexual behavior over an extended period (e.g., six months or more) that causes marked distress or impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”

What are the implications of this that we can clearly affirm?

  • There are good expressions of sexual behavior and bad expressions of sexual behavior. The ICD would say healthy and unhealthy. Christians would add holy and unholy. Healthiness and holiness are not competing concepts, and both should be considered important in this conversation.
  • Sexual behavior has the propensity to be ensnaring and can disrupt many areas of life. This is aligned with the Christian view that sin has a predatory intent to destroy people’s lives.
  • For a habit to become enslaving, an extended period of repetition is required. This is common sense.
  • Pornography is not a victimless activity; many people are negatively affected. This counters one of the most common lies in our culture about the innocence of viewing pornography.
  • There is hope for change. The entire point of placing diagnoses in the ICD is that these diagnoses represent experiences for which some degree of freedom or relief is possible.

Why Was CSBD Included as a Diagnosis?

While it may get a little nerdy, to evaluate the inclusion of CSBD in this diagnostic structure we also need to consider why this diagnosis was added.

“Although this category resembles that of substance dependence, it is included in the ICD‐11 impulse control disorders section in recognition of the lack of definitive information on whether the processes involved in the development and maintenance of the disorder are equivalent to those observed in substance use disorders and behavioral addictions. Its inclusion in the ICD‐11 will help to address unmet needs of treatment seeking patients, as well as possibly reducing the shame and guilt that distressed individuals associate with seeking help.”

So to summarize:

  • Researchers are unsure if CSBD has the same physiological features as substance dependence. Uncertainty on this point is why they don’t use the more common label of sexual addiction to describe this experience.
  • A large number of people struggle with compulsive sexual behavior. Diagnoses are included in the ICD when it becomes common enough that clinicians see an increase in prevalence for an experience.
  • The official diagnosis makes it easier for these individuals to be reimbursed for counseling. Insurance companies require a diagnostic code to reimburse for services, which made it difficult for individuals to receive counseling. Adding a diagnosis to the ICD is as much about third party reimbursement as it about discovering something new.
  • It allows for better research on compulsive sexual behavior. Research helps us to differentiate speculation from empirically verifiable approaches to working with a given life struggle. This kind of research should enrich both professional and lay-based care strategies.

Does This New Recognition Present Any Concerns?

Sexual behavioral can get out of control. When it does, lots of people are affected, and WHO wants insurance companies to reimburse for counseling. If we want people to be free from destructive sexual behavior, this all seems fine. But are there any reasons to be cautious with this new label?

When a pattern of behavior receives a diagnostic label, it often creates an external locus of control. Diagnostic labels lead us to think something is happening to us rather than being done by us. There is some concern that this label could reinforce a sense of passivity towards change and a lack of ownership for one’s choices.

The moral nature of the activity can be lost with a label. Too often we fail to realize that something can be both unhealthy and immoral. We treat it as an either-or instead of a both-and. There is some concern that this diagnostic label could distract from the role of repentance in change.

Also, we often assume the remedy for a diagnosis will be medicinal. Again, this doesn’t need to be either-or. The remedy for diabetes involves both insulin and exercise. If there is a medicine that can help with impulse control, we should be happy. But regardless, the fruit of the Spirit known as “self-control” will be required in both taking the medicine as prescribed and other behavioral choices towards righteous living.

How Should We Approach This New Diagnosis?

The answer to this question will vary from person to person. Diagnostic labels are a tool. Any tool can be used for good purposes. In contrast, any tool can also be used for destructive purposes. The problem with tools is usually not with the tool, but with how a given individual utilizes that tool.

If you serve as an ally for someone who comes across this new diagnosis, affirm the following:

  • Your friend is not alone in their struggle. This can help alleviate some of the stigma associated with sexual sin.
  • Sexual activity has an enslaving tendency. If someone fights a bear and loses, we don’t call them weak. It’s the nature of the bear to be stronger. When someone engages sexual sin and becomes enslaved, it doesn’t mean they’re uniquely weak. It means it’s the nature of this activity to be enslaving.
  • Even secular health experts (meaning, those without the bias of Christian morals) want individuals enslaved to sexual activity to have access to help in the pursuit of freedom. Appealing to secular experts helps reveal the frustration point, “I only need to change because I’m a Christian and God’s hung up about sex,”which is not true.

If you serve as an ally for someone who comes across this new diagnosis, caution the following:

  • Your choices matter. A label can explain why change is hard; it is not a reason to quit trying.
  • Abstinence and repentance are not the same thing. A secular counselor would just want you to stop engaging in self-destructive behavior (abstinence). God invites you to a restored relationship with Him (repentance).
  • No amount of science will make change easy. But the work is worth it. If there is anything we can learn from science to make our efforts at change more effective, we will. But just like science has taught us a great deal about dieting, those advances in science haven’t made losing weight easy. Peer support and wise choices are still the central elements to change. So, let’s keep going together.

If you are interested in history of diagnostics, I would recommend Allen Frances’ book Saving Normal. Dr. Frances is a psychiatrist who loves his profession but is concerned about overmedicating normal physical struggles. Here is a brief excerpt from his book and few reflections to whet your appetite to read more.

Beyond the Talk: Teaching Your Kids About Consent

BEYOND THE TALK: TEACHING YOUR KIDS ABOUT CONSENT

Kateyn Ewen

The talk. The birds and the bees. The awkward conversation with your parents you dreaded as a child. It probably went something like this: “Well, when two people love each other very much…” followed by a vague description of the physical act of sex, contraceptives, pregnancy, and STIs.

But were you ever taught about consent? What about affirmative consent? Did your parents and the adults in your life practice consent with each other, and with you? The #MeToo stories about non-consensual interactions, specifically ones that live in the grey area or ones that happen in childhood, are something we should all strive to eliminate from the next generation by educating our kids today.

It is approximated that 63,000 people under the age of 12 are victims of sexual abuse every year. One in six boys and one in four girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. And those are just the ones who report.

If we can teach our kids about consent and show them how to practice it through our actions, through those little teaching moments, then maybe, these stories can be less common.

Here are seven ways to teach your kids, and the kids in your lives, about consent.

Practice consent by example
Before children even learn to speak, they learn by observing and mimicking the world around them. It’s called observational learning. By practicing consent with our partners, friends, and other children, we can begin to model what consent should look like to those ever-watchful eyes.

This also extends to how we practice consent in our relationships with our children. By giving children choices in expressing consent in how they would like to be touched, we teach them how to express it when we’re not around. For example, If you want to kiss your child goodnight, ask them, “May I give you a kiss goodnight?” and respect their answer.

Give them bodily autonomy
Giving children choice is a gateway to giving them the tools to express their consent. You can ask your child “Do you want to wear your blue shoes or your yellow shoes today?” In the same way, it is important to give children options when it comes to their body. For example, if they have a rash and they need ointment you can say, “You need ointment for your rash, do you want to put it on, or can I help you?”

Giving children simple choices every day shows them that they have bodily autonomy so that they can carry that into other interactions. In the same way, it is important to not take that bodily autonomy away from your children. A common way children lose their bodily autonomy is through adults coercing them to hug and/or kiss relatives and friends. It’s important to show children that they have a choice. If they say no, you can give them alternatives, like “How about a fist bump?” but the key is to respect a “no” that may follow.

Teach them to listen to their bodies
Consent isn’t just a verbal interaction, so it’s important that we teach children to listen to their bodies. What feels good and what doesn’t feel good to them? Teaching them what it feels like to be present in their physical self, and what it feels like to have their physical needs honored and met, is key to them being able to appropriately express their needs later.

Teaching children about their physical pleasure is something that Sue Jaye Johnson, a journalist and filmmaker, talks about working through with her daughters. In an interview for the Future of Sex Podcast, she talks about how her daughter will ask her to rub her back and how she then asks “Well, how would you like me to rub your back?” giving her daughter the space to think about her pleasure and express her physical wants in a productive way. In the same way, we also need to teach our children to listen to their gut feelings and instincts. Our bodies are a powerful tool in telling us that something doesn’t feel right. By encouraging children to give credence to these feelings and voice them, we encourage an understanding of their own pleasure and needs and how they might express that to future partners.

Give them the tools to express their physical wants and needs
Once a child has language at their disposal, we can begin to help them express their wants and needs though their words. We can teach them polite ways to decline affection like “No, thank you. I don’t want to hug right now.” But we should also be teaching them that they can just say “no” and that that’s ok, too.

Rather than teaching our girls the narrative that if a boy teases you, he likes you, we should be teaching our kids that if they don’t like something and ask someone to stop, they need to stop. If their words aren’t heeded, that may be the appropriate time to involve an adult or remove themselves from interaction with the offending kid. In the same way, it is important to teach kids to ask permission, with words and gestures. They can offer a hand to hold or hold out their hands for a hug, but they also need to ask, use their words, and know that someone may say no.

Teach them how to handle physical rejection
While we need to teach our kids how to say no, we also need to teach our kids to recognize and accept the rejection of affection. It’s important to encourage them to stop when someone says no, and to step in as adults when we recognize our kids being affection aggressors, holding other kids a little too long or a little too hard.

We can teach kids to accept rejection and redirect them. We can tell them that just because a friend doesn’t want a hug, that that doesn’t mean they don’t love them and we can direct them to show affection in other ways. You can tell your child to use words of affirmation, acts of service, or gifts to express affection. While channeling affection is important, it’s also important to just teach that it’s ok that someone doesn’t want something, in the same way that they may not want things at times. They are in control of their bodies, just as someone else is in control of theirs.

Turn awkward moments into teaching opportunities
Something I’ve talked a lot about with peers is how their parents handled sex scenes in movies and television growing up. As a millennial, the general binary in my generation is parents who fast-forwarded through sex scenes and parents who made you endure the sex scenes in a tense silence. In addition to this binary, there are a lot of movies and shows from my childhood, and from generations prior, that display non-consensual interactions in a way that makes them seem okay.

What if we didn’t let that slide? What if we took media and created a dialogue, especially with older children and teens? If you’re watching a movie with your kid that has a sex scene, use the time that could be spent being awkward to talk about what’s being done right and what the characters should be doing regarding consent in the interaction.

Believe them and advocate for them
Finally, and most importantly, it is essential to believe children and advocate for them. If your child expresses discomfort or unease, ask them about their feelings and validate them. This is a crucial step of Emotion Coaching. When you believe them, it creates an open channel for communication between you. It teaches them them to trust you and trust their own instincts. So in turn, they might also believe the story of someone else.

Ask them if they want or need intervention. It’s then your responsibility to advocate for them with whomever is making them uncomfortable. That might mean talking to a parent, teacher, coach, or other adult. Sometimes we’re the ones that need to step in and have those tough conversations until our children are old enough to have them on their own.

Rather than having “the talk” with your kids, think of teaching consent as an ongoing dialogue—a million little conversations and day-to-day actions that can help them feel comfortable and safe in their own bodies, and respect the sanctity of someone else’s.

10 Ways Your Kids Could See Porn Without You Knowing

10 WAYS YOUR KIDS COULD SEE PORN WITHOUT YOU KNOWING

Shane Denham

“Are you excited for school to start?!”

As a kid, I would dread that question. I never wanted summer to end! Of course, now that I’m a parent, I find myself asking that question.

For a kid, back-to-school is about the buzzing excitement of a new adventure. It’s shopping for new clothes and school supplies, seeing friends again after a long summer apart, and getting to know new teachers, classrooms, and subjects.

For the parents, it’s the longed-for reality of a quiet house and the return of a regular schedule. Our days are spent on work routines, chores, or errands, while our kids are out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Our evening schedules fill up with activities and the pace of life increases. In all the commotion of a new school year, it’s easy to overlook some of the basic precautions we would (and should) normally take to keep our kids safe.

As you prepare your child to head back to school, here are ten potential “danger zones” where your kids could encounter mature or inappropriate content.

1. YouTube

It’s the second most popular search engine after Google and one of the easiest ways for our kids to consume content such as video game walk-throughs, music videos, and movie trailers. But, the platform also contains a boatload of content that you may consider inappropriate for your children.

Some of the biggest dangers on YouTube are the suggested videos displayed after each video view. Clicking from one enticing video to the next can become a downhill slide from innocent to explicit content..

2. Instagram

Kids love Instagram. In fact, some of them practically live there, documenting and sharing each moment of their lives with their group of friends. The image-based nature of the platform appeals to young people, but that nature combined with a lack of oversight on the part of Instagram can result in easily accessible porn.

3. Snapchat

This is another social media platform that kids spend a lot of time on. The large number of photo filters make it fun to share pictures and videos with friends. Unfortunately, this platform also hosts a volume of adult content, and there is very little enforcement by Snapchat to keep underage users from seeing it.

The “instant picture” feature of Snapchat can also be dangerous for young children. When a picture is sent or received, it can only be viewed for up to ten seconds; then, it disappears forever. This makes it easy to send inappropriate pictures and videos without the fear of being caught.

4. Google Images

Searching Google for images and videos can be a quick, convenient way to research a topic for school or entertainment. But, it’s important to remember that the search results can (and often will) contain mature content when Google SafeSearch has not been activated.

This is another way that kids might encounter the “rabbit hole” effect, where clicking on one enticing image reveals a list of other suggested images, which can become increasingly graphic in nature.

5. Personal Devices

Many kids have their own phones and tablets. It can be a great way to stay connected with your child and a fun source of entertainment for them.

However, it’s important for parents to remember that it’s our job to teach our children how to behave in a healthy, responsible manner, and that includes the use of their personal devices. Take the time to research and set up the available parental controls on your kid’s device. Also, using Screen Accountability software can promote honest, grace-filled conversations with our kids about how they use their devices.

When their devices are properly protected, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your kids are safe, and they can feel free to have fun without you hovering over their shoulder.

6. School Laptops or Tablets

Many schools now offer students the opportunity to take home a school device, such as a laptop or iPad. It’s a great way to make sure all students have access to technology. Schools tend to lock these devices down so that students aren’t able to abuse them, but if you’re a parent, you know that kids can be resourceful. It’s always a good idea to have a basic understanding of the protections in place on your child’s school device.

7. Library Computers

Public libraries are a great way for people with limited internet access to get online for free. Most schools will also have a computer lab available for students to do research online. These are public places, but that doesn’t always stop a determined young person from searching out inappropriate content.

8. Your Devices

Do your kids know the password to access your phone, tablet, or laptop? Do you allow them to use your devices unsupervised?

If your kids are using your devices, you should consider implementing the same protections you would use on their devices. Otherwise, lock them out. They can still pick up your phone in a emergency and dial 911 without unlocking it.

9. A Friend’s House

It’s a basic rule of parenting that most of us do instinctively: know who your kids’ friends are and know their parents.

But, have you considered asking those parents how they are protecting their kids’ devices? Are the kids left unsupervised with their devices? Do they have their phone or laptop in their bedroom behind closed doors?

10. A Friend’s Device

You can’t be everywhere at once. No parent can. Maybe you trust the level of supervision at your child’s friend’s house, but what about at school? Or at the mall?

It’s a good idea to talk to your kids about using their friend’s devices and let them know you still expect responsible behavior, even when you’re not there to see it.

So, what can you do?

With the ease of access to media of all kinds via internet-connected devices, it can be overwhelming as a parent to try and keep up. Here are a few suggestions to help you keep your kids a little safer.

  • Pay attention. Know where your kids are, who they are spending time with, and what they are doing together. Just knowing you’re paying attention can often dissuade kids from acting out when they’re tempted.
  • Have conversations. Be a sounding board for your kids. Listen more than you talk. Let them know they can come to you with any problem, and they won’t be judged or condemned. Talk openly about things like pornography and why it can be so enticing and harmful. It’s important to maintain your authority, but you can do so in a way that encourages open communication and trust rather than secrecy.
  • Use technology to your advantage. Tech is often the problem, but it can also be the solution. Screen Accountability and Filtering software, such as Covenant Eyes, can help facilitate conversations with your child about how to use their devices safely and avoid online temptations. That’s the goal, after all: teach them how to stay safe.

Back-to-school is a good time to remind ourselves that our aim is not to put our kids in cages, but to raise them up into healthy, responsible adults who know how to navigate this digital world with integrity.