Deborah Roffman’s most recent book, Talk to Me First. Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go-To” Person About Sex.

Nationally acclaimed educator and author of Sex and Sensibility, Deborah Roffman distills her more than thirty years of experience teaching kids—and their parents—into this indispensable guide, helping you to be your kids’ number one source for information and guidance on human sexuality. Roffman tackles everything from developmental stages to strategies for handling embarrassing or difficult conversations, offering the best ways to make sure you both keep talking (and listening).

 With wit, wisdom, and savvy, Deborah Roffman translates her experiences gleaned from decades of teaching kids and parents, and as a mom, into strategies to help parents navigate this tricky terrain. Talk to Me First is for any parent who wants to become and remain the most credible and influential resource about sexuality in their children’s lives.

Talk to Me First is published by Perseus Books Group.

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Talk to Me First Contents

  1. Getting There First About Sex
  2. Raising Children in a World Gone Upside Down
  3. Parenting Is a Five-Piece Suit
  4. Affirmation: Our Children as Sexual Beings
  5. Information: Folding in the Facts
  6. Clarity About Values: Honing Your Message
  7. The Delicate Art of Limit-Setting
  8. Anticipatory Guidance: Turning Children over to Themselves
  9. Practice Makes Proficient: Let’s Go Fishing
  10. Epilogue
  11. Acknowledgments
  12. Notes
  13. Family Resources List
  14. Appendix: Some Basic Facts All Adults Should Know
  15. Index

Deborah Roffman’s Second Book, But How Did I Get In There In the First Place?

For parents of three to six year olds, a wise and charming guide to talking about sex, conception, and birth. Young children ask questions about sex, sexuality, conception, and birth that can be embarrassing or uncomfortable for parents. With her characteristic good sense and cool head, author Deborah Roffman will put even the most awkward parents at ease, giving them the skills to talk confidently with young children about these important but delicate issues.

In this wonderfully reassuring book, readers will learn that the key to talking with children about sex is knowing that their questions fall into three easily recognizable categories. At age three or four, kids are curious about geography (“Where was I before I was here?”), and at four or five, about delivery (“Exactly how did I get out of there?”). Finally, the six year old’s classic stumper–“But how’d I get in there in the first place?”–is about cause and effect, not about imminent sexual activity

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Deborah Roffman’s first book, Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent’s Guide to Sex

Deborah Roffman’s first book. “Whenever children present us with sexual issues or situations, they are always expressing one or more of only five easily identifiable, developmentally based needs.”

In Sex and Sensibility, Debbie Roffman introduced the Five Core Developmental Needs:

  1. Affirmation
  2. Information Giving
  3. Values Clarification
  4. Limit Setting
  5. Anticipatory Guidance

Click here to read a detailed discussion of the Five Core Developmental Needs. 

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Praise for Deborah Roffman and Talk to Me First, Sex and Sensibility, and How Did I Get In There In the First Place?

Talk to Me First, Review. Independent School (National Association of Independent Schools), October 1, 2012.

If you are uncertain how to talk with your child about sexuality, or worry that you’ll say the wrong thing, you would be wise to invite Deb Roffman over for tea. If she’s not available for a personal visit, the next best thing is to get a copy of her new book, Talk to Me First. The tagline for the book is, “Everything you need to know to become your kids’ ‘go to’ person about sex.” With her decades of experience, teaching sexuality education at The Park School (Maryland), offering hundreds of sexuality education education workshops for parents and serving as the co-editor of three issues of Independent School on sexuality and education – Roffman has clearly established herself as the education world’s “go-to” expert. While Talk to Me First is written primarily for parents, it’s also a great resource for educators as well.

Roffman – in her calm, clear, affirming way – underscores the importance of parents being the first voice children hear on the subject of sexuality, acknowledging our children as sexual beings, being open to all their questions, understanding the various stages of their brain and bodily development, being clear about our values related to sexuality, and – perhaps most challenging of all – understanding the “delicate art” of setting limits.

“Book Helps Parents Talk About Sex”, Bobbi Booker in The Philadelphia Tribune, August 14, 2012.

We live in a time when kids of all ages are bombarded with age-sensitive material wherever they turn. “Sexting” and bullying are on the rise at an increasingly younger age, and teen moms are “celebrified.” What is a concerned — and embarrassed — parent to do? With wit, wisdom, and savvy, Deborah Roffman translates her experiences gleaned from decades of teaching kids and parents, and as a mom, into strategies to help parents navigate this tricky terrain. “Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ ‘Go-To’ Person about Sex” (Da Capo Press, $14.99) is for any parent who wants to become and remain the most credible and influential resource about sexuality in their children’s lives.

Read the complete review.

Bookviews by Alan Caruba

Picks of the Month, August 2012

I was raised in an era when parents did not discuss sex with their children, but that is not an option in the present era when children grow up with all manner of sexual language and images in everyday life. It starts when they are quite young and Deborah Roffman has penned Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kid’s ‘Go-To’ Person’ about Sex($14.99, Da Capo Press, Lifelong Books, softcover). It is filled with excellent advice on topics such as teaching kids to view the sexually-saturated media critically, becoming approachable to ask questions regarding sex, and learning how to communicate with information, clarity about values, anticipatory guidance, and setting limits. The author has written extensively on this subject and really knows what she is talking about. The fact is that kids are going to be able to get their information about sex from a myriad of sources including, of course, popular culture. Today’s parent has the responsibility to be the primary source of advice and guidance for age-appropriate information.

Talk to Me First: Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go to Person” About Sex

Publishers Weekly, May, 2012

Sex educator Rothman (Sex and Sensibility), a former member of the National Advisory Council for Sexual Health, encourages parents to “stay ahead of the media tsunami” and take their rightful place—partnering with schools—as the “go to person” when it comes to educating their kids about sex. For Roffman, human sexuality is the “richest, deepest, and most extensive” subject there is, and one can clearly sense her joy and exuberance in addressing her subject. But, she says, many parents are fearful and squeamish about talking with their kids about sex, which leaves the topic up to media outlets, advertisers, merchandisers, and others who are engaged in the “adultification” of children, without their best interests in mind. Roffman stresses that talking to kids about sex in a “sensible, normal and matter-of-fact” way is the goal, but first parents must overcome their own fear of using the words and talking the talk. She suggests that parents don a metaphorical “five-piece suit” and get to work, addressing five core issues of affirmation, information, clarity about values, setting limits, and anticipatory guidance. Roffman’s frank and vibrant pep talk will give parents the inspiration and tools needed to tackle the subject of sex with their kids. A rather slim appendix covers “some basic facts all adults should know,” including a brief synopsis of STDs. (Aug.)

Author Deborah Roffman underlines the importance of talking to children about sex

Rebecca Finkel, Metro NY, June 25, 2012

In an age when it’s nearly impossible to control when our children are exposed to sex. The best we can do, writes author and sexuality educator Deborah Roffman, is get to them first.

“The role of adults is to put information in context for children,” says Roffman, whose new book, “Talk to Me First,” is a guide to “the talk” in the 21st century. “If we really understand what children are asking when they’re 4, 5 and 6 years old, and we interpret the question correctly, then we give the message that we’re the go-to person about this topic. But if parents try to change the subject or give a vague, offhanded answer, children learn that they have to go  someplace else for this information.”  [Read the complete interview.]


Everything You Need to Know to Become Your Kids’ “Go to” Person About Sex

Kirkus Reviews, June 2012

An informative, helpful guide for parents contemplating how to talk to their children about the birds and the bees.

Parents are often plagued by the prospect of appearing indecisive and tongue-tied to their kids in those moments of truth, writes Roffman (But How’d I Get in There in the First Place? Talking to Your Young Child About Sex, 2002, etc.), a scholastic sex educator and mother of two who began brainstorming for this book after Janet Jackson’s overhyped Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.” She offers relief by counseling parents on sensitive matters of timing and the dissemination of facts. Unfortunately, she writes, American schools are typically years late in providing even basic sexual knowledge to age-appropriate children. Roffman discusses a laundry list of commonly used statements about sex and doesn’t shy away from more sensitive material such as abstinence, gay and transgendered kids, sexually transmitted infections and rape. Throughout, she emphasizes the importance of positive, direct interaction with children. Her “five piece suit” approach stresses the significance of nurturing and parental roles in recognizing core needs like values, boundaries and guidance. Stories, analogies, scenarios and case studies bolster Roffman’s case, as does some good-natured humor. While it may be uncomfortable for parents to consider their children as “sexual people,” a chapter near the book’s midpoint serves as a primer course on human biology, development, reasoning, acceptance and the importance of honest communication at every stage of a child’s life. In utilizing this important guide, parents can reclaim the sexual education of their children instead of surrendering it to the influence of misguided media advertisers.

Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, Ph.D., is Distinguished Service Professor of Philosophy at
American Jewish University and author of Love Your Neighbor and Yourself