BEYOND THE BIG TALK: Every Parent's Guide to Raising Sexually Healthy Teens—From Middle School to College
Sexuality educator Haffner (From Diapers to Dating)—a mother of two with a master's in public health who directed the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. from 1988 to 2000—treats adolescent sexuality holistically. Eschewing the one traditional "Big Talk" about sex, Haffner urges parents to keep the lines of communication constantly open and to utilize "teachable moments." Sections on early, middle and later adolescent development are organized by the age-appropriateness of sexual information. The discussion of birth control makes the essential point that mixed messages are acceptable (i.e., one can discourage kids from having sex, while advocating safe sex); Internet use, sexual harassment and body image are all addressed with real conversations in mind. Claiming that parental involvement influences not only sexual behavior but also kids' alcohol- and drug-use, Haffner deploys statistics on teens' sexual sophistication. Frequent asides about Haffner's own adolescence (presumably to help parents remember their teen years) seem gratuitous, but her assertion that teens need to learn both facts and sexual values from their parents is sound. (June 11)
Forecast:Haffner has made appearances on Oprah, 20/20, Dateline and Good Morning America, and in Time, Newsweek and elsewhere; her previous book was a 1999 Parents' Choice Approval award winner—all of which should translate into big sales. She is currently studying at Union Theological Seminary, which will reassure less secularly-minded parents.