The term “askable parent” was first coined by Sol Gordon, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and sex educator who advised adults to be askable parents. He believed a child’s questions about sex should be answered whenever they are asked. Furthermore, he suggested that parents take the responsibility of beginning discussions, either with a book or with simple conversations about a friend or relative who is having a baby, if a child hasn’t asked about sex by age 5. Read more. That term has expanded to “askable adult” to reflect the ability of many trusted adults to be reliable and supportive sources of information for young people.
Things to Consider About Being an Askable Adult
- Kids who feel connected to one or two adults in their life have a protective factor that makes it less likely they will engage in risky behaviors, such as early sexual activity, drug use, or violence.
- Adults who care about children demonstrate that by being available when a child approaches them. Even though everyone is busy, adults who stop what they are doing and look at the child when they speak are showing that they are open to questions or conversation.
- Knowing all the answers is not a prerequisite to being askable. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but let’s look for some information about that and talk again later.”
- Feelings of embarrassment are okay. Askable adults admit when they are feeling uncomfortable and then move ahead with the conversation anyway.
- Listening is more important than talking. Listening with an open heart and a closed mouth communicates caring more effectively than delivering a lecture or asking lots of questions.
Are you an askable adult? Perhaps you are. If not, you can develop the characteristics needed to earn that title. Practice, practice, practice!
How to Be Askable
Overcome the Barriers
- Recognize the reasons you might not be open to conversations about sex by reading “Why Parents Don’t Talk to Their Kids About Sex.”
- Learn what to say at each age.
- Get some good books about puberty and read them with your child.
- Play Talk Turkey Bingo as a way to start conversations.