If we can provide our little people who are, who someday become big people and then have little people in their lives, let’s face it… There’s legacy love here, people, that if we can provide that gift, like how do you take care of yourself, how do you show love for yourself––that’s auntie superpower right there. If I’ve ever heard of one.Andrea Fellows Fineberg
Well, aunties, we’ve come to that point in our episodic relationship where the conversation turns to love and sex. ‘Tis the season for roses and boxed chocolates after all.
Red and pink pile-up aside, Valentine’s Day does present an excellent opportunity for me to ask a trio of esteemed folks about engaging in “those” types of discussions with the younger set. Note that I’m still flatly refusing to acknowledge “nibling” as a suitable identifier for this classification of kiddo––especially with aunties who are committed to using anatomically correct nouns in conversation…apart from the hilarious inclusion of (and subsequent definition of) whizzy-wazzy.
This auntie chat has tons of advice and resources from wise adults that I wish I’d had access to when I was growing up: Karen Yates is a somatic sex educator and host of the podcast Wild & Sublime; triple-threat Andrea Fellows Fineberg is a librettist, director of community engagement at Santa Fe Opera as well as host of Key Change, one of the organziation’s podcasts; and Helen King is a New Zeland-based podcast editor and host of The C Word Radio.
As auntie to three young girls (all of whom are under five years old), more complex explorations into emotional engagement, bodily autonomy, and empowerment aren’t part of my experience…yet! Still, less obvious “teachable moments” arise at this young age. Navigating those means disentangling myself from all the societal messages I received growing up, honoring how my sister has chosen to raise her daughters, and celebrating my nieces’ ability to express their desires.
I’m thrilled that our understanding of consent has expanded and that those lessons are shared earlier now (yay!). On the flip side, body shame and fear of nonbinary expressions of gender persists (boo!). So, how should aunties proceed?
With love, of course, that’s our superpower—that, and a remarkable ability to share an outsider’s perspective with the kids in our lives.
Clear-eyed honesty, too, when it comes to any topic––but especially love and sex-–is also one of our superpowers (we’ve so many!). However, a question submitted to the “Ask Aunties” segment of this episode tests the possible limits of auntie honesty. My guests provide the most thoughtful (and honest!) answers, as you’d expect.
Ultimately, we aunties are at our best when we’re present for conversations about sex and love, vulnerable in answering, and as joyfully curious about the topic as those asking the questions.
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Mentioned In This Episode
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Andrea Fellows Fineberg
Auntie Wit & Wisdom
“You bring your own shame to the table. So, you, as a parent, are bringing your shame to the conversation about sexuality with your kid.”
“For me, the awesome auntie moment is, like, complete confidentiality, unless it is something that is, you know, injurious to the person’s health.”
“Being one person removed from the child, I really think helps, really helps greatly that parents are like, ‘Oh, thank God I don’t have to have that conversation!’”
“It’s back to what we were talking about earlier: agency over your own body and what’s going on with you. Gosh, aren’t we better if the curiosity’s there, the concern from the person themselves is there, talking about it rather than folding it under?”
“Something I really am trying to foster and courage with my nephew is, I always say to him, ‘You know, you’re my friend; I will never, ever not be your friend. So if you ever need someone to talk to and you can’t talk to her mom and dad, that’s when you can come to me.;”
“I guess putting them in the direction of kind and open and inclusive and not shaming information is just…I just hope if anyone came to me, that’s what I would steer them towards because I just think be the adult that, you know, you could have done with in your youth if you didn’t have that and so, that’s the kind of the way I approach those things.”
“I wish someone had taught me that I’m okay, or this is how you look after yourself because if you know, within yourself, that I am okay, then you’re probably less likely to have people trample over you, take advantage of you… with sexuality, that’s where it starts is, I’m a valuable human being and I am lovable.”
“It’s really refreshing and also a little bit shocking to me sometimes when my niece will say something like ‘my vagina hurts’ or like, just like, it’s just like a totally normal thing to say, and I’m just like, ‘Oh. OK!’”
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