It is challenging to discuss intimacy and sexuality with our children, even more so to frame them in the Jewish contexts of respect and holiness. Several issues are repeated through the text: balancing the need to be proactive with giving kids more information than they are ready to process; the pervasive effects of the media (television, internet, cell phones) on everyone’s perceptions of body image and sexuality; and the biblical mandate to be holy. Each chapter begins with a quote and ends with a summary and the footnotes. Topics include Child Development, Tzniut (Modesty), Relationships between the Sexes, Masturbation, Homosexuality, Media and Its Challenges, and Sexual Harassment and Abuse. Within the chapters, there are numerous “model conversations” to have with children on different topics, and a list of these is included in the back matter. Appendix I includes separate student guides for both boys and girls, and Appendix II is a recommended reading list. The book includes a glossary and an index.
Dr. Debow has done extensive research about intimacy and sexuality with children and teenagers in the Orthodox community, and has published sexuality curriculum for Jewish schools. Because the book is meant for more Modern Orthodox Jewish parents, who often have greater access to secular books and the internet than less Modern Orthodox Jews would, most of the secular and basic physiological information could be found in other places. The chapter on “Relationships between the Sexes” is particularly important for parents of teenagers who are interacting with opposite-sex peers, and unfortunately, the “Sexual Harassment and Abuse” information is critical. The book is poorly indexed, which detracts from its usefulness when parents need references on a specific topic. Given that the target audience and the libraries that serve the group are relatively small in number, it is suggested that librarians keep the title on their resource lists. It is recommended for personal and professional purchase.
This review originally appeared in AJL Reviews