A Parent and Specialist on How to Talk About Sexual Orientation With Kids

Why do we refer to conversations about sex and sexuality as "the talk"? Why do we as a culture get so squeamish and shy when we talk about sexuality, especially when kids start to ask questions? Of course, there are plenty of theories and complicated answers, so maybe, as parent and talk show host Maria Leonard Olsen asks, the better question is this: "Adolescence is a confusing enough time in each person's life. Why make it worse by not helping kids understand what is going on with their bodies, hormones, and emerging feelings?" 

As the mother of two kids in their early 20s—one who identifies a straight and the other as gay—and as an attorney, radio talk show host of the Washington, D.C. show Inside Out, writing and women's empowerment retreat instructor, and public speaker on diversity issues, she has plenty of wisdom to share on the topic. She's also written several books, including the children’s books Mommy, Why's Your Skin So Brown? and Not the Cleaver Family—The New Normal in Modern American Families. Like her background suggests, she believes in making bigger issues more accessible to children rather than making them scarier. And while that's a big job, Leonard Olsen's rules of thumb might make it feel easier.

So we asked Leonard Olsen for some insight about how to better foster and support children's sexual identities and celebrate all types of love and relationships at home. Read on below to learn how to talk to kids about sexuality in a way that fosters support, education, authentic expression, and celebration of all love and relationships.