Start Talking

start-talking.jpgToday, PPLM Parent Education Program Manager Amy Cody shares a review of Start Talking. Read on for Amy's review, as well as to learn how to be one of two winners to receive a copy of Start Talking:

Start Talking is an engaging resource for mothers and daughters to help open the door to better communication about a variety of topics ranging from periods and sex to self-esteem and dating. According to authors Mary Jo Rapini (mother of two daughters, psychotherapist, and feature consultant on TLC's Big Medicine) and Janine Sherman (mother of two daughters, teen health expert, and OB/GYN nurse practitioner), the best time to talk to your teen daughter about sex and her body is right now. Starting at the age of 8 or 9, moms must begin having these conversations. They stress that by opening up now mothers can turn "the talk" into an ongoing conversation, and become a trusted resource for their daughters.
Teens today, more than ever, face a myriad of issues involving sex, sexuality, and body image. They need education, guidance, and support to make the right decisions at the right times. Between the internet, television, and grocery aisle tabloid magazines, Sherman says that tweens' and teens' primary sources of information about the female body is distorted at best, and potentially harmful at worst. Start Talking supports mothers in helping their daughters feel good about themselves and their bodies by helping to frame the conversation in a larger dialogue about health.

The book offers chapters on understanding menstruation, routine female health care, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), birth control, self-esteem and body image, eating disorders, and psychological health. The authors offer informative diagrams of how to do a breast self-exam and reproductive anatomy, sample conversation starters and "Table Talk" role plays on a variety of topics, and answers to 113 "typical" questions about teen health that they have heard through their own practices. In addition, the book includes an informative glossary of sexual health terms and a useful annotated bibliography of books, organizations, websites, and hotlines.

From my perspective as a sexuality educator who has presented workshops on sexual health to youth and their parents, I'd like to mention one note of disappointment in this book. I feel that Sherman and Rapini have missed an important opportunity to address the topic of sexual orientation in adolescents. The book tends to be heterosexist, with mention only of "boyfriend issues" in the glossary and references only to heterosexual attractions. According to the 2007 MA High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 9.2% of all students described themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and/or reported same-sex sexual contact. All adolescents, regardless of their sexual orientation, deserve their parents' unconditional love, support, and acceptance and need appropriate factual information to make healthier, safer and better-informed decisions about their bodies and sexual health.

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Congrats to winners Elizabeth and Catherine!
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Now, want to be one of two winners to receive a copy of Start Talking? Here's how:


  • Hop on over and check out the Start Talking website, e-mail with "Start Talking" in the subject, and name a topic you'd like some help addressing with your daughter.

  • US & Canada entrants welcome.

  • Entry period closes at midnight EST, Wednesday, December 1, 2010.

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    *Two lucky winners (drawn randomly via will receive a copy of Start Talking. The winners will be notified directly via e-mail, then listed back at this post using first name only.