Updated: May 3
(as @vanjones68 says, “the female black one”)
by Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers
Have you ever had something in your life unfold that seemed to take on a life of its own - something that unfolded in a way you didn’t intend, but when you looked back it seemed to have its own intent all along, without your intent?
That is the way the book Shameless Parenting came about. It was never intended to be a book.
Several years ago, after writing Sex, God, and the Conservative Church – Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy and seeing how that book helped people to heal from the damage of sexual shame and religious sexual trauma, I could see we still needed to provide more help for parents to help them change the sexual shame legacies they had experienced in their childhoods.
I could see that, as a country, we were not going to be offering adequate comprehensive sexual and relationship education in any organized way any time soon. So how could I get this info to parents myself?
I could also see how parent’s sexual shame from their childhood would silence them, even when they had sexual health books to guide them. Somehow I needed to help them heal their own shame first-- before it inevitably reappeared when their children slowly expressed their natural sexual and relational curiosities.
I got the idea to craft what I called “cheat sheets” for professionals (doctors, teachers, therapists, and clergy) to use in their practices/clinics when working with parents and kids. These cheat sheets would be 8.5x11” pieces of paper, each representing one age stage (birth to 2, 2 to 4, 4 to 6, 6 to 8, etc).
On one side would be the developmental, behavioral, and emotional tasks a child at that stage is trying to accomplish, including the sexual and relational tasks. On the backside of the sheet would be the shame triggers most parents tend to react to when their children are doing those tasks.
For example, when a two-year-old finds their penis and wants to touch it whenever their diaper is off, or the five-year-old becomes curious about the genitals of their opposite gendered cousin, or the nine-year-old googles “boobs” to discover porn because his friend at school told him to, or the father who walks in on his twelve-year-old daughter and a girlfriend playing with shirts off on her bed – these are just some of the myriad situations that may emerge with kids as they grow.
Parents who are aware of child development and comfortable with the sexual and relational unfolding of children and how to guide them, know how to have one thousand, one-minute conversations with them along the way.
However, 95% of parents do not. Instead, they freak out inside and worry that something is horribly wrong with their child, wrong with their parenting, and maybe worse - that something bad will happen to their child. They tend to either overreact by saying something punitive, or they are “weirdly silent” each and every year around the topic as it emerges.
Because of this, I put together the cheat sheets for these professionals to use at well-child visits, teacher/parent conferences, youth groups, and family and individual therapy meetings. Before the cheat sheets went to an illustrator, I sent them to a few queer and D.E.I. (diversity, equity, and inclusion) colleagues of mine for feedback.
Not only did they give me great feedback, but one said she felt all this info should be assembled in a book for parents as well. I had never thought of that. The info seemed so practical and rather “list like”. But she talked me out of that thought and said I should think about it.
So, I did. I went looking for a book template that would humanize the book and lo-and-behold, I found one.
When the book was put together, it was as if it was always waiting to be a book – I just never knew it. It was kind of shocking! As I began to pass it around to colleagues, the feedback was the same: “This is fantastic! Every parent needs this book! I think parents have been waiting for this book for a very long time! This is going to help so many people!"
I began to think of this book, Shameless Parenting, as “a God thing.”
I am very grateful for all of the people who have walked with me through all the steps in my thirty-plus-year career – all of the students, clients, families, doctors, friends, colleagues, and of course, my four kids. Each step – each stone – brought me here and brought this book to fruition and to it being a
I hope and pray it changes the legacy of silence and shame to joy, celebration and deep knowing in the acceptance of one’s body, one’s worth, one’s sexuality, and one’s belovedness.
You can get the book on Amazon or wherever books are sold. Scan this QR code or visit the link!
Wednesday June 2, 2021
7 PM PDT
Meg Cowan, Brenda Marie Davies, Monica Tanner, Tara Teng, Cindy Wang Brandt &
Other special guests