Saturday, March 26, 2016

Saying No to Unpaid Work Gracefully and Respectfully

As a poet, adjunct professor and independent writing coach, I don't make a lot of "extra" money. Sometimes doing something for free - like a one time writing workshop - helps to support another organization while spreading the word about my services. And sometimes I (probably like you) am simply asked to work for free. 

The thought of losing potential income and, perhaps most importantly, time, angers me. Why would someone ask me to give away my expertise?

I recently stopped paying attention and asked someone for advice without considering that she probably charges for such work. (We all make mistakes; I was very sorry about this.) I was, amazingly, rewarded with a beautiful rejection note that inspired me to better respect others while teaching me how to say, "no." Here is her response, edited for writers: 

I would love to devote more time and energy to this conversation, but the unfortunate reality is that writers are very often approached to provide free labor on things like this. We simply can't say yes to everything the way we want too. I didn't want to leave you with nothing, so I hope the resources below are helpful. If you'd like to talk more extensively, I can happily arrange a coaching session in which I can give you my undivided attention (insert link here.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Our Bodies: Knowledge and Consent Starting in Toddlerhood

Our attentive son has noticed some physical differences between his mother and father.

OK, the truth is that he would occasionally point and laugh at me. And I, who used to lead an occasional safer sex seminar for first years at an American university in Italy, was stumped about what to say about the genitalia that I was "missing" and and how we weren't going to "go to the store, Mommy, and buy one. Now!"


Avoiding Googling and seeing images I could never un-see, I turned to my many knowledgeable friends. Thank you to Rev. Nancy McDonald Ladd and sex educators Danielle Foote and Bianca Palmisano for their recommendations, which you can find below. These resources have helped him to learn about his body and to start open conversations between the three of us.

The Netherlands offers sexuality education for kids as young as four. Clearly it can be done with the right resources and support. I imagine that we will next turn to books about gender and sexuality. For now, our son has stopped asking questions, which suggests he learned what he wanted to know about his body. (Now he's asking about other things, like planets, moons and dinosaurs.)

Do you have favorite resources about sex, gender and/or sexuality for toddlers? Please share them below in the Comments section. 

Here are the best resources I found:

These two books are very informative and straight-forward about bodies:

Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz (Author) and Lynne Avril Cravath (Illustrator). This book is very clear about what boys and girls have as children. There are even pictures to show how their bodies are likely to change as they grow.

Related to naming and understanding their bodies, kids should start to learn consent with adults and other children. Children can start to learn the concept by having physical autonomy. This book, Your Body Belongs to You, by Cornelia Maude Spelman (Author) and Teri Weidner (Illustrator) helps to explain these issues.

This next book doesn't address genitalia, but it does explain how other parts of our body work.With interactive flaps, our son is mesmerized about the world beneath his skin.

Little Explorers: My Amazing Body by Ruth Martin  (Author), Allan Sanders (Illustrator)

What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg  (Author), Fiona Smyth (Illustrator) addresses the many ways that an adult can become a parent, while showing non-gender specific people.

For more book recommendations, including for older children, Dr. Nadine Thornhill's  article Let's Read About Sex! 6 Books About Sex for Toddler to Teen has some great suggestions. Planned Parenthood also has great tools and recommendations for talking with your teen.

Birds + Bees + Kids is an online program by Amy Lang, a sexual health educator, about talking to kids about the birds and the bees. (It is pay-for content, but comes highly recommended.) She has an "Ages & Stages Seminar" that addresses kids as young as two.

If you are interested in working directly with a health, sex or sexuality educator in order to help you to educate yourself and your children, you might try: The MamaSutraSuperstar Health Education or Dr. Nadine Thornhill.

The Unitarian Universalists have an educational program about birth, babies, bodies and families. (They also have programs that follow for older children and adults, too.) You might be interested in seeing their recommended books and more about the program. Here is the link to their program, OWL.