Why We Like Jessica Biel’s Toddler Sex Ed Strategy

And what you can be co-opting for your own conversations.

Why We Like Jessica Biel’s Toddler Sex Ed Strategy

They’re teaching their toddler what?!

Actress Jessica Biel is making headlines for her parenting choices after she announced she’s teaching sex education to her two-year-old.

Before you freak out, no, she’s not teaching him about the birds and the bees -- yet.

Right now, she’s focusing on anatomy and the proper names for private body parts. And you might want to keep reading, because there’s some real data to back up the fact that what she's doing can go a long way in establishing self-confidence and openness. Most importantly, though, teaching your children the proper terminology when it comes to body parts makes them less likely to be singled out by sexual predators. It also helps them to be more descriptive and forthcoming if they are targeted.

Biel is working on a series of sex education videos with the Tryst Network to help women raise their sexual IQ. She says she’s brought her work home with her, too, teaming up with husband Justin Timberlake to make sure their son Silas uses the proper terminology.

“We shower together, and [we say], ‘This is what I’ve got. This is what you’ve got.’ We just talk about it,” Biel said. “I know it’s really young, but I really believe that if you start this early, there’s no shame.”

While many families raise their daughters to believe they have “hoo-has” and sons have “wee-wees”, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that’s a major no-no and encourages the use of proper language.

The AAP offers this tip to help parents prevent sexual abuse: “In early childhood, parents can teach their children the name of the genitals, just as they teach their child names of other body parts. This teaches that the genitals, while private, are not so private that you can’t talk about them.”

The use of those euphemisms -- “pee-pee” or “girly bits” -- can signal to a child their parents are uncomfortable talking about those parts of the body, according to Psychology Today, and can signal to children that talking about them is naughty or bad.

We teach our children an arm is an arm and a leg is a leg; teaching them a penis is a penis and a vagina is a vagina is not only logical, it can help protect them from predators.

A 1990s study of preschooler’s knowledge of genital terminology found very few children even knew the correct term for their penis, scrotum, vagina, and clitoris. Researchers Maureen Kenny and Sandy Wurtele use their data to argue teaching those terms is a must -- starting from the very beginning.

“Children who lack sexual knowledge may be more vulnerable to sexual abuse,” their research concluded. “Some sexual offenders avoid children who know the correct names for their genitals, because this suggests these children have been educated about body safety and sexuality. One convicted offender (who had assaulted 75 children before he was caught) reported that when children knew the correct terms for their genitals, he would leave them alone.”

Jessica Biel -- known to raise eyebrows with her choice to not vaccinate her toddler -- says teaching her son about his body is empowering.

““I don’t want to tell him, ‘Keep your private parts,’ and this and that,” Biel said of her son. “It’s a beautiful thing. You have it and mine is different and it’s cool, man. We have to respect ourselves and respect each other. So I believe it starts really young.”

Image from NY Daily News.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.

And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3


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A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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