Easy Does It

part 3 of a series from AIDS-Proofing Your Kids: A Step-By-Step Guide
-- It's a shame that too many book stores are embarrassed to carry it! --



Some readers have asked how one even gets to the start of talking "dirty" (see installment #1) with your kids. That is, sitting around de-sensitizing everyone to sexual terms, as we outlined in the last installment, is fine but what if you can't even get to suggesting this exercise without blushing or feeling very uneasy. We address this issue in our book, in great detail, and perhaps the best way to show the way, here, is to tell you about what others have done who have read our book.

All over North America, many parents and other adults have asked us how they can begin AIDS-PROOFING when they feel so uncomfortable about even mentioning AIDS or SEX to their kids or youth in their care. A mother in Portland shows the way. It is so very, very important for each parent or adult care-giver to select those minimal, comfortable conditions which can be the first step towards talking.

A mother who called me on a talk show in Portland demonstrated that she had read and used our book. She told the audience that she had been afraid to even mention the word SEX in front of her SON. Following our guide, and customizing it to her situation, she began overcoming this fear by first uttering the word SEX to a picture of her son. She did this several times, until comfortable with it. She progressed, as we prompted her to in our book, to saying the word SEX, out-loud, to his picture, in his room (where she would eventually be talking to him about AIDS-PROOFING). Over a period of several days, she progressed to uttering the word SEX, softly, while her son was in the house but not within ear-shot. By further customizing our procedures, and painlessly progressing towards her goal, she was soon talking AIDS-PROOFING with her son, in his room and elsewhere, without any embarrassment or discomfort. This mother was on the road to successful AIDS-PROOFING! Keep in mind, this is just the start of the road and we want you to understand that TALKING IS NOT ENOUGH. You can't teach a kid to swim by just telling him how and teaching safer-sex skills and/or abstinence is no different. Later, in upcoming instalments, we'll get to the actual, direct involvement of parents in their kids safer-sexual behavior and/or abstinence alternatives.

For a father in Michigan, the first step in AIDS-PROOFING was mentioning current AIDS facts, selected from newspapers and news broadcasts, to his wife when their kids were in the same room -- no talking directed at the kids, yet. Eventually, over just a couple of days, the group of them were comfortably discussing AIDS facts as a prelude to AIDS-PROOFING.

A counsellor in Seattle, who told us about her efforts to begin AIDS-PROOFING with her young clients, put up printed AIDS facts as posters on her office walls. She soon progressed to interspersing sexually explicit art work which related to masturbation, condoms, non-penetrative sexual techniques, and enjoyable alternatives to sex. She quickly realized, however, that she had to de-sensitize her supervisor as well as her clients. These efforts broke the ice (the title of an important chapter in our book) at the start of AIDS-PROOFING.

A Parent-Teacher's Association in British Columbia broke the ice with their members by merely leaving copies of our book haphazardly around on tables and chairs, before several meetings. When asked by some why these books were around the room, the chairman of the group quite honestly suggested that some parents and teachers might be interested in browsing the book before a public discussion was initiated at a future meeting. Anyone who was offended was immediately referred to the chapter on ABSTINENCE.

Start easy and comfortably, wherever you are, whatever your goal. Start at whatever level YOU feel reasonably comfortable. If you start to feel uneasy, back-up. If you don't, you'll likely quit -- it's that simple -- so keep it easy and comfortable, always!


Your kids may not be as comfortable as you are when you start in a minimal, comfortable way for yourself.

Attract, don't push! Whenever it seems that your kids (or your spouse or partner) are resistant, uncooperative, or uneasy, incentives help to get them going so that they can find out that the sky really isn't falling.

This is not bribery! You are motivating them into behaviors which are for their benefit, not solely for your benefit. Incentives help where there are no immediately perceived reasons, from their perspective, to participate -- especially if they feel at all uncomfortable broaching any sexually related topic with you.

We will urge you, many times in coming installments, to identify and use incentives. Of course, they must be reasonable and within your means. Every family, every health and community agency has their own limitations. Within these limitations, however, one can ask kids, youths, your partner or spouse to identify material objects, activities, opportunities or privileges that they desire. These identifications are often the best pointers towards effective incentives that can be earned through cooperation and participation in AIDS-PROOFING efforts. Attracting others to your efforts is much more effective than pushing them. Warnings and threats, however veiled in attempts to reason or plead, are poor motivators over the long-term. Others just learn to avoid you when your main motivators essentially push. Attract, attract, ATTRACT!

A few of many possible incentives that have worked for thousands of other parents and adult care-givers, are: food treats -- allowance bonuses -- free choice of T.V. programs -- keys to the family car -- concert tickets -- sporting event tickets -- movie tickets -- anything tickets -- toys -- tapes or CDs -- air or car mile "points" to desired destinations -- party time in the rec room -- magazine subscriptions (no censorship) -- posters (no censorship) -- books (no censorship) -- gift certificates -- permission to do.... -- etc., etc., etc.

Be generous, consult their desires, be imaginative, be reasonable, be responsible, but be generous. This is giving for the sake of possible life-saving. This is no time to be picky, stingy, judgemental, reticent, critical, or negative. There are, perhaps, other issues of parenting and counselling that require these reactions but not now, not in AIDS-PROOFING.

The rules, always:

Ever hear of a condom race? Coming in a future installment! Support this effort: AIDS-PROOFING YOUR KIDS: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE (Beyond Words Publishing: 1-800-284-9673 - $8.95). It's a shame that too many book stores are embarrassed to carry it!

Sincerely and from our families to yours, Drs. Loren Acker, Bram Goldwater, and William Dyson
email: [email protected] or [email protected]

[back to Talking Dirty] [forward to Condoms? My Kids? The Purchase]

INSTALLMENT #2 of a series which we know will help you plan and implement an effective AIDS-PROOFING program for YOUR KIDS, GRANDCHILDREN, KIDS IN YOUR CARE or as an effective means of HELPING OR EXPRESSING YOUR CONCERN FOR LOVED-ONES WITH CHILDREN.

AIDS-PROOFING YOUR KIDS is endorsed by the Canadian Public Health Association, favourably received by the World Health Organization, the American Psychological Association, the Association for Behavior Analysis, numerous national AIDS organizations, clergy, parents, kids, and our families. It's a shame that too many book stores are embarrassed to carry it!

[email protected] (Thu Jan 4 02:47:08 1996)