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Helping parents raise healthy and responsible kids.

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Dr. Sharon Maxwell

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I am a clinical psychologist in private practice, author, speaker, and consultant. But most importantly I am a mom, who is passionate about the health and well being of children and families.

In 1998, during recess, my seven-year-old son heard about a video game where if you kill enough people you get to see a lady take off her clothes. I was furious. Despite my best efforts, I felt as though a piece of my parenting had been taken away. Before even having a sexual feeling, violence and naked ladies had been linked in my son’s seven-year-old brain.

As a clinical psychologist I specialized in and loved working with adolescents and families, but my first job and great passion was mothering. Doing my part in raising the next generation of human beings, providing them with an environment that nurtured whatever unique contribution they would make to the world, defined and continues to define my life. Perhaps it’s because I waited so long to have children, or because it almost didn’t happen. For whatever reason, like so many parents before me, life acquired meaning and purpose beyond anything I had ever known when I became a mom.

Most of us can remember a moment when we realize that despite our most diligent efforts, our children will be profoundly influenced by factors outside of our control. Maybe it’s the first time we put them on the school bus, listen to their sadness and confusion at being rejected by another child, or perhaps we are taken aback by something they say, that we know they didn’t learn at home. There is a moment of shock as we realize that our children’s understanding of the world and of themselves will be fashioned by experiences outside of our control. Our influence is limited, and will continue to diminish with every passing year. Even as we understand that this is as it should be, we can’t help but question whether we have sufficiently prepared them for the world they will encounter.

That moment with my son made it clear to me that when it came to issues of sexuality, not only had I not prepared my son and daughter for a world that was constantly selling sex, but I had not really thought through where I stood with regard to sexuality or how I wanted them to understand this important part of their development. I saw, in my private practice, the impact of the media on teens’ sexual attitudes and how unprepared parents were in dealing with issues of sexuality. If I was going to adequately prepare my own children for adolescence I needed to figure out where I stood with regard to sexuality and develop a language to begin that conversation now. My daughter was nine, my son seven.

Already a lecturer on issues of parenting, I began to develop workshops focusing on healthy ways of discussing sex with kids. These talks developed into a series of articles for a parenting magazine that led to a National Parenting Publications of America award.

The curriculum director for a public school system asked me to develop a sex education curriculum. What a gift that was! I was able to really look at how schools talk to our kids about sex and I found a great deal missing. Helping kids see how the media influences their understanding of sexuality was missing, a critical oversight in a day and age where most kids learn about how to act sexually from the media. No one was talking to kids about the value of self-control, yet developing the internal muscle to say no to something that feels good is an essential tool in becoming a responsible sexual person.

Most importantly, the parents were missing. While schools give information, parents set ethical guidelines for behavior. When it comes to sex, both are needed. My passion turned to developing a curriculum that gave kids information about sex and included issues like media manipulation of sexual desire and the importance of developing the muscle of self-control. Parents became part of the curriculum. They were given guidelines for thinking through their values with regard to sexual behavior and strategies for imparting those values to their children.

Working directly with kids in the classroom as well as with parents and health teachers has been invaluable in continually making this work relevant to the day-to-day realities of families and teens.

As this curriculum became recognized I got calls from religious institutions. Ministers, priests, and rabbis from both conservative and liberal denominations were interested in using my approach to sexuality to address parents and teens in their communities. Each opportunity I’ve had to work with a religious leader has profoundly enriched my understanding of sexuality. Our discussions have enhanced my ability to talk about sex in a way that inspires interest in embracing the responsibility we each have to use our sexuality in an ethical way.

As I spoke with more and more parents, it became clear that technology, the Internet and the clash of cultural and family values presented unique challenges for moms and dads of children of all ages:

  • Parents of younger children look for ways to set reasonable guidelines for all forms of media.
  • Parents of older children are concerned with how the Internet impacts their kids’ sexual development.
  • Mothers want workshops that address issues specific to empowering girls as they navigate the challenges of adolescence.

Each of these interests has turned into workshops, articles, and, ultimately, the chapters of my book, The Talk: What Your Kids Need to Hear from YOU About Sex.

It is a great gift to be able to turn one’s passion into one’s work. My passion comes from wanting to be the best mother I can be. I am incredibly grateful to be able to use my education and professional experience to turn that passion into an offering for families.

Chelsea Maxwell

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I am delighted to introduce Chelsea Maxwell as my associate. A recent graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Chelsea is passionate about comprehensive sex ed and brings a wealth of experience as a learning designer for both classroom and online settings.

Having hands on experience studying cross-cultural issues in the field of women’s empowerment, Chelsea has worked as an advocate for survivors of relationship abuse and created a curriculum for middle schoolers on developing healthy relationships with themselves and others.

Well versed in the area of mindfulness, Chelsea brings to her work a way of engaging with young people that supports and models self-awareness and respect for one’s community and environment.

Chelsea and I continue to build our partnership in creating and implementing workshops and curricula, coordinating speaking engagements, and writing the new parenting book on raising healthy children in a technologically driven consumer culture.

I am also excited to announce that we are rolling out a new series of mother-daughter workshops focused on fostering an ongoing dialogue on topics such as love, relationships, and how one navigates the often-confusing world of becoming a woman. If you are interested in hearing more about our workshops and presentations and seeing how we can custom design an event for your community, Chelsea will schedule a call and help you get the process started.

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