It’s kind of awkward to tell people that your mom is a couple and sex therapist when they ask what your parents do, especially compared to my dad’s mundane job as a financial planner. My mom jokes that they both help people with the most difficult things in life - relationships and money.
You wouldn't expect a parent’s profession to have a large impact on their children; however, my siblings and I were calling our private parts their proper scientific names right when we started to speak. This was important to my mom because so many parents teach their children to call their parts random made-up words, and “how can children become comfortable with their own bodies if they’re not even taught to call their parts by their proper names?” She would always say that “making up names for them is emphasizing the idea that it’s shameful to talk about them in full.” Because of this, as a young girl, I understood what my body did for me and loved it because I was comfortable in my own skin.
And then there’s the sex talk. I hear horror stories from my friends about the time their parents sat them down for the sex talk. My parents never gave my siblings and me the sex talk. I don’t remember exactly when my mom introduced the idea of sex to us as kids or what she even said. I can only remember always knowing what it was, why it was important and why I needed to wait until I was older to do it. My mom tells me now that she weaved it into conversations subtly. The only thing that I do remember was a picture book (made for young kids!) showing bodies changing with age and cartoon drawings of sperms and eggs. I think the way that my mom educated us about sex was perfect. I’m glad I didn’t experience a horrifying sex talk (and I’m sorry for all of you who did).
My mom also does a lot of family and couple work. I think that this, above anything else, has been the most influential in my life. I started reading one of the relationship books my mom always talked about when I was in my first relationship in Grade 10. I found it so boring and never finished. Fast forward four years to today and I wouldn't even think twice about not educating myself about relationships. The things that I have learned from books and podcasts that my mom has recommended have not only shaped my relationship with my boyfriend but also my relationships with my friends. We are in a relationship with everyone in our lives and believe it or not, you can have the same types of conflict with your boyfriend and your best friend. I have learned that it is so important to understand your love languages, the love languages of the other person in the relationship, their relationship with their family, their goals for the future and their deep wounds.
If I could provide one tidbit of knowledge from my mom, I would want to tell you one of her famous lines she repeats to my siblings and me very often: “you can be right, or you can be in a relationship.” Think about that for a second. Think about all those times you argued with someone you loved just because you wanted to be right in that argument and win your case. You can be right, or you can be in a relationship!
So, thank you mom for the best gift you could have ever given me: relationship knowledge. That’s something I will never be able to get from any business class.
If you’re interested in learning more about relationships and yourself, here are two of my top recommendations!
1. The New Rules of Marriage – by Terry Real. I know most of us aren’t married but this one is so good for a relationship at any stage.
2. Come As You Are – by Emily Nagoski. Yes, it does have some sex stuff in it, but the underlying theme is more about normalizing women as they are.