Of all the adults in our community, I have found that senior citizens can be our most valuable sex educators. With a wealth of lived experience and a treasure trove of life lessons learned, many seniors readily recognize the importance of “Askable Adults” in the lives of our youth. A few have decades of experience, having had ‘the conversations’ with their own children and their friends as well as nieces and nephews. The vast majority never had ‘the conversations’ and many never even really had ‘the talk,’ with the previous generation(s) of children in their lives. It is their regret at having lost those opportunities that inspires their desire to do better with this generation.
I’ll tell you a secret. I have a dream of modeling an “Askable Adults” program based on the concept of the Dixon Chibanda’s “Grandmother’s Bench.” In place of Chibanda’s therapy trained grandmothers talking with young women about depression, I imagine a cadre of seniors trained as “Askable Adults” for our youth, regardless of gender identity. These “Askable Seniors” would be prepared to have honest and respectful conversations about sexuality, supporting youth in making healthy decisions while providing them with non-judgmental information and referrals to community resources.
Before this dream can become a reality though, I wonder if it would be best to begin by engaging “Askable Seniors” as a community resource for the parents of our youth? By modeling honest and respectful conversations about sexuality with parents “Askable Seniors” could support them in becoming comfortable with ‘the conversations’ while providing local resource information. In the process we would reduce shame, stigma and taboos by normalizing healthy human sexuality across three generations.
Contact me at email@example.com if you would like to join us in making this dream a reality. Learn more about Dixon Chibanda’s “Grandmother’s Bench” at www.npr.org/2019/10/11/764654028/dixon-chabanda-how-can-a-team-of-grandmothers-make-therapy-accessible-to-all
Berks Teens Matter
by Nadine J. Smet-Weiss, Community Liaison; translated by Johnathan Rodriguez-Báez, HRC and Youth Ambassador Coordinator