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Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex Paperback – December 18, 2001


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Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex + Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids' "Go-To" Person about Sex + It's Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends (The Family Library)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Edition edition (December 18, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738205206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738205205
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Is there any topic more controversial than the sexual education of our children? Parents worry about telling too much or not enough, schools are restricted in what they're allowed to discuss, and kids are filled with a combination of surprising misinformation and depressing detail on disease without ever having been taught about the possible benefits and enjoyment of feeling comfortable with their bodies. Deborah Roffman, a longtime teacher of sexual education for both children and adults, has assembled a thorough book that attempts to address moral and physical issues for every age. The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex is decidedly not for those whose sex speech begins and ends with "just say no." Roffman's take on sexual education is that it is a lifelong exploration that should encompass changing cultural values and an individual's personally evolving ethics as well as the practical facts of proper health care. Put plainly in one section's title, "sexuality is about people, not body parts." Including a discussion of gender roles and history, and appropriate levels of information for everyone from toddlers to teens, Roffman attempts to cover all the bases with a mix of theory, historical perspective, personal stories from her own classrooms and kids, and practice questions and situations that parents can eventually expect from their children. Breaking down this complicated subject, she identifies five core needs that all questions fall under: affirmation, information giving, values clarification, limit setting, and anticipatory guidance. This last category relates to parents' ultimate goal of making themselves "dispensable," secure in the knowledge that their children have been raised with all the information needed to make the right decisions for themselves--decisions that will result in a sexual health that blends their emotions, minds, and bodies with ultimate success. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

This highly intellectual primer will appeal to parents who want to know the theoretical as well as the practical "whys" and "hows" of talking to children about sex. Roffman, a certified sex educator for 30 years, addresses definitions of sex and discusses age appropriateness and values, "doing" vs. "being," gender, and family/school partnerships, relating them to young people's needs for affirmation, information, values, limits, and guidance. Her insights and tips are outstanding, e.g., when she discusses dealing with sex in the media and forming alliances with other parents. How to listen and how to present viewpoints to spark dialog, not conflict, are also well handled. Yet the intellectualism and writing style that will appeal to college-educated and "idea"-type parents make Roffman's message inaccessible to readers more accustomed to sound bites and the simple prose of consumer magazines. Also, more and longer examples of parent-child dialogs would have improved this guide's usefulness. Highly recommended, but also suggest Mary Calderone and James Ramey's still-valuable Talking with Your Child About Sex (o.p.), which is over half sample dialogs. Martha Cornog, Philadelphia
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

It is informative, funny and easy to understand.
Stuart G. Brantley
This book is excellent for parents, teachers, and anyone who works with children or teenagers.
N R W
When your kids (yes KIDS) bring up the subject of SEX (argh!!!!!!!)
Christopher Craig

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chris Redford on February 11, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have to admit I was a little disappointed with this book. The idea is revolutionary and necessary in modern society: a generation of parents who genuinely talk to their children about sex and maintain an open and reasonable dialogue throughout their child's life.

Roffman does a good job of arguing for why we need this. What she does not do well, in my opinion, is get to the point: just how are we to instill these dialogues into our relationships with our children? After pages of being told how important it is, I was frustrated not to find how she recommends going about it. So I skipped around. However, due to the poor organization of her book, I had no idea where to skip to. I left it back at the library I got it from with only a vague idea of how she recommended I speak to my child.

Don't get me wrong: her stories are good and there a few I feel glad knowing. But she simply does not get to the point soon enough. The path of her narrative is wandering and her direction at times unclear. I simply could not sit through it long enough to give her a chance to get. to. the. point.

After some disappointment and some searching, I found a book that *does* get to the point:

-Everything you NEVER wanted your kids to know about SEX (but were afraid they'd ask)-
by Justin Richardson and Mark Schuster

While Roffman has the advantage of many first-hand discussions with parents children, Richardson and Schuster have the advantage of not only that but also enlightening statistical, psychological, and sociological research. Not to mention a much more straight-forward writing style.

I applaud Roffman's efforts on a difficult topic. But this simply is not the book to read. I wish she would organize her personal stories so I could find the ones on topics I'm interested in and assimilate them. But unfortunately, I do not have time to dig through all of them to find the ones I feel are relevant.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Howard Bolling on February 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
I saw Deborah Roffman speak before I read this book. When she told us that her students (she teaches at a local private school) call her "the sex lady," I wasn't surprised. When she explained some of today's kids' (we're talking kids, not even teens) attitudes about sex, sexuality, and sexual activity, I was very surprised.
I've always considered myself enlightened and pretty progressive, but when it comes to what our kids are thinking and doing, I felt like a Puritan. According to Ms. Roffman, the roles that we as a society thrust on our kids put them under an incredible amount of pressure about themselves, their sexuality, and their values.
This book is written just the way Ms. Roffman speaks -- frankly, straightforwardly, and plainly, with no holds barred. If you're the parent of a pre-teen or teen, or know a pre-teen or teen, you should put this book near the top of your must-read list.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My sister and my mom have been having "sex talks" for a while, so I decided to get my mom this for Valentine's Day. Witty, honest, and, of course, sensible, Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide to Talking Sense About Sex was a great book.
Sex and Sensibility was insightful and direct. It started by defining exactly what 'sex' is, and led on to other discussions--from 'gender' to 'sexual orientation'. Famous poet e e cummings once said that the most natural thing in the world is "a cat with a ball of wool." Let me tell you: a cat with a ball of wool is a graceless lump compared to Deborah. She's not afraid to confront the issues that America's public school sex ed teachers aren't allowed to talk about.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Teachers as well as parents will welcome this excellent book that explains children's sexuality education needs at each stage of development. Deborah Roffman is a powerful advocate for children, understanding that in a society that gives confusing and exploitative messages about sexuality, children are desperate for communication from the caring adults in their lives. The book is full of specific examples, often humorous, of difficult situations and questions from Roffman's life as a parent and teacher. Her responses are models of simplicity and good sense. Every adult commited to helping young people develop into sexually healthy adults will want a copy of this book. It provides remarkably clear guidelines for how to do it!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Teachers as well as parents will welcome this excellent book that explains children's sexuality education needs at each stage of development. Deborah Roffman is a powerful advocate for children, understanding that in a society that gives confusing and exploitative messages about sexuality, children are desperate for communication from the caring adults in their lives. The book is full of specific examples, often humorous, of difficult situations and questions from Roffman's life as a parent and teacher. Her responses are models of simplicity and good sense. Every adult commited to helping young people develop into sexually healthy adults will want a copy of this book. It provides remarkably clear guidelines for how to do it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mona on July 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I also saw Deborah Roffman speak before I read this book. She dismantles the idea that talking about sex is a conversation that parents should have prior to adolescence and argues for an on-going dialog with your child from birth. This book has given me the confidence that one day I may be the "go-to person" for my children when they have honest questions about sex and sexuality from mechanics to sensuality. Ms. Roffman also made me realize that even the most progressive parenting is backwoods on this topic and that the media is the most informing resource that children have in order to learn about sex and sexuality. She outlines the concept of limits and boundaries v. well early on. She asks us to imagine a child who was raised with little or no boundaries navigating their newly found sexuality informed primarily by media. For the reviewer that called her rambling and disorganized, I would argue that the author lays clear ground work for child rearing topics such as limits and boundaries prior to getting to chapter 10, which I think is the heart of the book that states what to do as a parent and how to do it when. After reading this book, I no longer imagine that I'm exclusively raising a future adolescent on how to deal with sex and sensuality in their teens, but I imagine that I'm raising children who will be in their 20s and beyond and realistically helping them navigate this amazingly complex topic with caring maturity. This book is an overdue revolution.
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