Developing Healthy Sexuality in Children: Series intro

Masters and Johnson (from the book Sex and Human Loving) have a saying that I appreciate, that as parents we don’t really have a choice about whether our children get sex information, instead we can only choose whether or not to participate in the sex education and definition of sexuality that is already taking place.

So it is with this outlook, that sex education is going to happen whether we like it or not, and whether we are involved or not, that we suggest that sexuality is not a single act, but instead it is a journey and a lifestyle. As parents, we are often most focused on one single point on the map, explaining to our children what sex is, and what menstruation is. This single point is a ticking time bomb, and many of us feel ill prepared for this conversation and end up dreading it. But what if we took the pressure off this one point of time, and take a whole childhood to seed that conversation.

Being able to take this journey I believe consists of three parts:

Step 1 is our definition of healthy sexuality. With a broad definition, we will see the opportunities throughout the developmental stages, to discuss sexuality.

Step 2 is considering our own sexuality and understanding what we bring to this conversation. Whether that is our own anxiety or our comfort in approaching sexuality.

Step 3 is understanding who our child is, so that we can adequately meet them on this journey. Our knowledge and attunement to our child, will help us know when and how to address this topic.

During this blog series, we will discuss each of these three Steps to helping our children develop a healthy sexuality. We did an informal survey of parents, asking for questions about this topic, and so we will also be covering a number of these, including: sexual exploration versus molestation, discuss sexuality at the developmental stages, etc…

Mariah and I hope that with this blog series, we might be able to show you what this journey could entail, and perhaps steer you in the right direction or at least show you the next step.

We’re excited to walk alongside you in this series,

Kathryn and Mariah


Kathryn de Bruin is a Marriage and Family Therapist with a private practice in San Diego. She teaches play therapy at the UCSD Play Therapy Extension program, and trains therapists around the world in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. With a specialty in working with families, Kathryn has spoken on this topic of Developing Healthy Sexuality in Children in a variety of settings.


Mariah McQueen is a Marriage and Family Therapist Associate and has been working with Kathryn for three years. She works with couples and families using Emotionally Focused Therapy. She became passionate about the topic of healthy sexuality after going through her own healing journey individually and in her marriage. She has spoken and facilitates groups on the topic.