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Monica Z. Utsey is an accomplished writer and editor. Her work has appeared in national magazines including Heart & Soul, the Crisis Magazine, and Upscale. In addition to writing, she and her husband operate two successful businesses, One Word Tees & Baby Soul for Boys, clothing lines that feature motivational words.

Monica is also the President of the Southern DC Chapter of Mocha Moms, Inc. She is a foreign language enthusiast, avid reader, breastfeeding peer counselor, and proponent of Attachment Parenting. She is currently working on two books: Etiquette for African-American Children and Attachment Parenting for African-American Families.

She and her husband Eric have been unschooling their only son, Zion, age 4 since birth. Monica is a member of the Capital Area Homeschooling Community in Washington, D.C., and facilitates its book club for the early years (ages 3-6). Her future plans include returning to her Alma matter, Howard University, to teach about Afro-Latino Language and Culture.

Mindful
                              Messages: Healing Thoughts for the Hip and Hop Descendants from the Motherland
Mindful Messages: Healing Thoughts for the Hip and Hop Descendants from the Motherland

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                              So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families
It's So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families

The Period
                              Book: Everything You Don't Want to Ask (But Need to Know)
The Period Book: Everything You Don't Want to Ask (But Need to Know)

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Talk To Your Teen About Sex

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Let's Talk About Sex:

Developing Healthy Sexuality in a Over-Sexualized Socitey

** Warning Explicit Language **

Typical car ride: I get in and turn to the jazz station. Brittani gets in and turns to a more popular station. We’re bopping along and then I hear something that makes my arm jet out and switch the station. When my 12-year-old daughter comes to stay with us in the summer, I try to be a little more lenient and allow her to listen to the popular radio stations. But I find myself changing the station every few songs because the music is so sexual and her little brother is listening intently. The songs are beyond suggestive, they speak very blatantly about sex. In one of my “try to be cool moments,” we were bopping along to a song until I realized he was saying, “come on and grind with me.” This popular song is the latest by the group Pretty Ricky.

All this got me to thinking about how many songs out there have great beats, but really awful lyrics. So I did a Google search for popular lyrics and could not believe what I found. When you read the lyrics to a song without the music, it’s either really good or really horrible. Here’s the chorus to the song by Pretty Ricky:

[Chorus]
Baby grind on me
Relax your mind take your time on me
Let me get deeper shorty ride on me
Now come and sex me till your body gets weak
With slow grindin'
Baby grind on me (Slow grind)
Relax your mind take your time on me (Slow grind)
Let me get deeper shorty ride on me (Slow grind)
Now come and sex me till your body gets weak (Slow grind)
With slow grindin' babe

I was stunned. I wondered how this music was affecting her very young and blossoming sexuality, and worse what message did it send to her younger brother?

Music is a very important part of who we are as a family. We are music lovers with an extensive and eclectic collection of music featuring everyone from John Coltrane and Etta James to Goody Mobb and Fertile Group. Watching music awards shows together is something that we did as a family before Zion was born. So quite naturally, we assumed we would be able to continue enjoying live musical performances together, guessing who would win what award, and educating our children about music. Not so. During the recent BET Music Awards, I had to cover the television and eventually just turn off the awards due to Destiny’s Child “strip club style lap dance” during the performance of their hit “Cater 2 U.”

Where
                                             Did I Come From?
Where Did I Come From?

I try to counter this kind of negativity by teaching Brittani and Zion that the human body is a gift from God that should be honored and cherished. From the very beginning nudity has been treated as something very natural in our home. We’ve always called the body parts by their proper names: penis, testicles, breasts, etc. And we’ve explained their function and purpose. Zion fully understands that breasts are for feeding children. He sees breasts as a special gift from God providing an endless supply of breastmilk or “liquid gold,” as we like to refer to it. We talk to Zion constantly about how beautiful our brown skin and naked bodies are because God made them.

At a recent visit to the American Indian museum with friends, we saw a wooden wall hanging that depicted several nude bodies. Several children squealed the proverbial “ewww!” Zion turned and looked at them and replied, ‘It’s not nasty. It’s a natural body made by God.”

Zion understands that he grew inside of my stomach. Initially, he thought that he was cut out of my stomach, until I told him matter of factly that he was delivered through my vagina. “Vagina!,” he exclaimed. And I calmly answered yes and went about folding the laundry.

We also try to guard our children from the negative images of African American women that we often see in magazines and especially on television. This can be difficult to do. During a visit to Philadelphia, we stopped at a stand to buy one of those famous soft pretzels. Zion kept tugging at my shirt. Finally, I looked down to see what he wanted. His eyes were wide and he pointed to a photo of a half-naked woman on a magazine cover. I quickly paid for my pretzel and scurried away. I explained to him that although our bodies are natural gifts from Gods, some people don’t respect what God gave them. He seemed to intuitively know that the woman’s body should not have been on display like that. Conversely, when we look at National Geographic Magazines together and other magazines featuring native peoples, he doesn’t balk at bare breasts. Mostly, he watches my expression. If I am okay with it, so is he. Healthy sexuality in children begins with healthy sexuality in parents.

What we’ve tried to do with sexuality with our children is give them tools slowly and consistently. By not overwhelming them with too much information and affirming them along the way, we hope that we are equipping them with what they need to well adjusted in world that wants them to grow up way too soon.

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