The article by Dr. Yocheved Debow (“Why Do We Need to Talk to our Children About Sexuality?,” summer 2013) provides further evidence that our religious community has begun to recognize that we have too long denied the importance of dealing openly with sexual issues. Credit must also be given to Ktav and OU Press, who jointly published Talking About Intimacy and Sexuality: A Guide for Orthodox Jewish Parents, and to Jewish Action, for giving parents the opportunity to gain the expertise and courage needed to tackle this sensitive subject.
We live in erotically charged times in which no one is protected from the myriad sexual messages confronting us daily. Our children are at risk because most parents do not equip their children with the necessary coping tools to deal with sexual inputs, particularly prior to the emotional storms and confusion of puberty.
Making the situation worse is the assumption some have that adequate sex education happens in the schools. Moreover, parents all too often feel gratefully exempt from talking with their children about sexual issues, since someone else is going to do it before they get married. It is for this very problem that Dr. Debow’s book provides a most sensible solution.
At the risk of undermining my livelihood, I can safely say that a significant proportion of the cases that come to me for therapy would be eliminated if children were raised differently. Many sexual dysfunctions, physical and emotional, may well be avoided if the next generation could develop in a sex-positive atmosphere, where adequate information is readily available, where questions could be asked with minimal embarrassment and where tzeniut is balanced with openness and an affirmative outlook.
David S. Ribner, DSW
Chairman, Sex Therapy Training Program
Ramat Gan, Israel