It’s normal for young children to be curious about their bodies and to ask questions about things like where babies come from. Once they’re in school, they’re likely to come home and ask questions about what they learned on the bus or the playground. Questions that can sometimes make your jaw drop. They hear or see things on the news about inappropriate sexual behavior and you know you need to have a conversation but can’t find the right words.

You want your children to learn about sex and sexuality from you, you want to share your values with them, you want them to feel comfortable coming to you for information. The trouble is, your parents shied away from talking openly with you when you were a child and even though you’ve vowed to be different, you feel awkward, unprepared and tongue-tied.

Jennifer Wiessner understands how you feel, and not just because she’s the mother of two young boys. She’s a licensed clinical social worker and a certified sex therapist. In addition to working with adults on their issues, she also conducts workshops for parents on how to raise sexually healthy children. In this episode of the Catching Health podcast, she offers some expert advice on talking to kids 9 to 14.

In this episode

  • I introduce the topic and Jennifer.
  • Jennifer explains why, no matter what their age, it’s important to talk about healthy sexuality.
  • We recap a previous conversation about talking to children under the age of 9.
  • Jennifer gives some tips on how to start the conversation with your child.
  • She tells us how much information is appropriate.
  • She gives some advice about how difficult it can be for some parents to talk about sex and sexuality.
  • She describes sexually healthy behavior for children between 9 and 14.
  • She tells us how to handle those questions from kids that can leave us speechless.
  • She talks about current events and how we can turn what we and our kids hear or read into teachable moments.
  • She describes her Raising Sexually Healthy workshops.
  • She talks about why she does this work.
  • We say goodbye and I wrap up by telling listeners about the resources listed here as well as other topics you find on Catching Health.

Listen to the episode now

Where else you can listen to or download the podcast


Jennifer Wiessner offers monthly Raising Sexually Healthy workshops in her office and in-home workshops can be scheduled at your convenience. Check her website for upcoming workshops.


  • Ruth Bell, Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: Expanded Third Edition: A Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships 3rd edition (Parent/teen)
  • Kelli Dunham, The Boys Body Book and Girls Body Book  (Child 8+) 
  • Kelly Huegel, GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer & Questioning Teens (Parent/teen)
  • Dan Siegel, MD, Brainstorm (Parent)
  • Jo Langford, Spare Me ‘The Talk’!: A Guy’s (and version for Gals) Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Growing Up (Parent/Child ages 12-24)
  • Andrew Smiler, Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy (Parent/Teen)
  • Amy Lang, MA, Dating Smarts – What Every Teen Needs To Date, Relate Or Wait (Parent/teen)
  • Joyce McFadden, Your Daughter’s Bedroom: Insights for Raising Confident Women (Parent/provider of daughters/girls) *Excellent for all women*
  • Amy Schalet, Not Under My Roof (Parent)
  • Peggy Orenstein, Girls and Sex (Parent/Child 14+)


  • Maine Boys to Men will be co-hosting a screening of The Mask You Live In on January 24th from 6:30-8:30 pm at Scarborough High School in the Auditorium. This film follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating America’s narrow definition of masculinity. Contact: Heidi Randall Maine Boys to Men 207-774-9994.

Maine organizations

  • Maine Boys to Men
    Learn how Maine Boys to Men is “helping boys reach their potential to become emotionally healthy, respectful, non-violent men.”

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