Author Archives: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

About Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

Kelly McDonnell-Arnold MA. MBA. RSW. is a Clinical Sexologist, and Relationship Therapist with a Master’s degree in Forensic Sexology. Kelly is a sought after expert in the field of human sexuality and dedicated to supporting others in creating wild success in relationships, sexuality, and life! In addition to owning a successful therapy practice, Bliss Therapy, she is co-founder of Sexology International where she offers online sex and relationship coaching, e-courses, and much more. For more information you can visit: www.bliss-therapy.org

Talking to your kids about sex and sexuality

family_couchFor many parents it can often seem like a daunting task filled with awkward conversations and maybe a clumsy demonstration or two. Conversations about sexuality don’t have to be awkward at all! Engaging in healthy conversations about sexuality sets the stage for talking, without guilt or embarrassment, about body parts and their functions. Setting them up for success to feel positive about their own bodies and to make conscious, well informed decisions that protect their sexual health.

Here are five suggestions to help parents de-stress and raise kids to become sex positive adults:

1. Think about your early experiences with sexuality

Take some time to really dig deep into your memory banks as you attempt to remember how and when you first learned about sexuality. Reflect upon those early conversations about it. Were they positive, negative or did they fall into a gray area? Would you change anything about the ways in which you learned about sexuality?

It’s important to tap into these early experiences as they play an integral role into how you feel about sex and your own sexuality throughout your life. Your feelings and experiences may then be passed onto your children in a variety of manifestations whether they are presented as fears, insecurities, shame or positive views of sexuality.

The key here is to own your feelings by acknowledging and owning them whether they are good or bad. Knowing the “how” and “why” behind your views of sexuality can then be used as invaluable tools when the time comes to take your own child on the journey towards understanding sexuality in all its forms.

2. Use the correct language for body parts

One of the most important things you can do for your children and their understanding of sexuality is to refer to body parts by anatomically correct names. Making an effort to do so from birth will serve as reinforcement for your child as it will be considered normal and they will follow your lead.

The use of the proper names of body parts fosters a positive body image and self-confidence.

3. Keep things casual

Feel free to forgo the urge to tackle one big discussion about sexuality at once. Instead, find ways to approach the subject during normal conversations and activities while avoiding scare tactics. Make it a point to keep things fun while you’re at it, too. It’s totally acceptable and encouraged to get a little silly with things if it helps.

Try to look for teachable moments when attempting to relay information in an inviting way. Doing so will teach your child that sexuality is a positive part of life all while providing them with age appropriate information. Finding opportunities to discuss sexuality with your child will be relatively easy. Do not shy away from using TV shows, music videos and overheard conversations when looking for an excellent starting point when you want the time to come to discuss sexuality.

Definitely encourage your child to come to you with any questions they may have and keep the conversations going.

4. Keep it age appropriate

A large part of sex positive parenting lies within your ability to discuss sexuality with your children from an age appropriate perspective. However, we must first jump the hurdle of the common misconception that “sex education” should be relegated to the annals of reproduction, sexually transmitted infections and contraception. When we abandon and de-stigmatize the standard views of what sexual education “has” to be, we then can openly communicate with children about sexuality in a more honest and informative manner.

Opening this dialogue encourages you to inform your child in an age appropriate manner about a wealth of topics that are crucial to developing a healthy sex positive attitude. The list of topics that are vital to furthering sexuality education includes: love, pleasure, empathy, consent, sexual assertiveness, diversity and preferences, self-image, gender stereotypes, respect for all, boundaries, healthy relationships, intimacy, safety and trust.

5. Lastly, remember it takes a village.

If you’re ever at a loss, talk to your friends, family members, family physician, teachers, community agencies, or your local clinical sexologist for support.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

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Sex After Pregnancy and Baby

GTY_baby_166272556_jt_131103_16x9_608“Not now, honey, I’m tired” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a new parent. You’re exhausted, sleep deprived and have a world of new responsibilities. You barely recognize your body in the mirror, let alone want someone else to see you naked. Sex may be the furthest thing from your mind. If this sounds like you, don’t worry. It’s normal to lose your libido after having a baby. There are ways to put the desire back into your relationship and balance family life with sex life. Here are my top three tips to finding (and keeping!) that balance in your relationship:

ONE: Be Realistic

Accept that you are both going to be over extended and less likely to be jumping each others bones. Being a parent is tiring. That’s just a fact of life. Your whole perspective and focus also changes when you become a mom. Yet, it’s still important to nurture your relationship with your partner(s). Just because you are now a mom doesn’t mean you stop being part of a couple. Try to focus less on the lack of wild sex and more on what you can do that feels comfortable. Even simple things like more eye contact, heartfelt compliments, and a long hug can go a long way in fostering that connection and intimacy as a couple instead of just parents. Everyone likes to be told they look nice – especially after having their body changed after pregnancy!

TWO: Channel Your Creativity

Sometimes, it really is the small things that make the biggest difference in our day-to-day lives.  Sure, you may want a weekend get away, but that’s not always feasible. Instead, try a ‘stay-cation’ by spending time relaxing in a bubble bath after baby has fallen asleep. You could even spice it up a bit by inviting your partner(s) to join you in the bath. You’re going to have limited time and energy as a new parent. Ask yourself “Do I want to spend my time picking up toys and making complicated dinners, or do I want to enjoy time with my partner(s) and order takeout?” The exhausted stage isn’t forever. Don’t put your energy in places you may regret, like vacuuming the house just because you are worried about what visitors may think! What do you think? You’re more important than a house guest.

THREE: Let’s Talk About Sex Baby

Communication is an important part of any relationship. The most effective way to get more of what you want is by talking about it with your partner(s). Open lines of communication about wants and needs in the bedroom are key to a happy relationship and healthy sex life. Think about it. You talk about money and parenting style, why not talk about sex? Just like anything else, if it’s not talked about, the problem will fester and become a bigger and bigger issue in the relationship. Don’t let your fear or talking about the subject inhibit you from building a stronger relationship. The bond is more than just physical. By talking through all aspects of your relationship with your partner(s) – from money, to parenting style, to sex – you only make the relationship stronger, not weaker. Talk it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Having a baby doesn’t have to mean the end of your sex life. It just brings a whole new dimension to your family and relationship. Savor your relationship with your baby, but also savor your relationship with your partner(s). You deserve to have it all.

By: Kelly McDonnell-Arnold

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