College Life & “What Makes A Baby?”

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In part 1 of an interview, sexuality educator Cory Silverberg discusses his Children's book project, "What Makes a Baby?" as well as sex education in college.

What Makes a Baby?

Photo: Illustration: Fiona Smyth

"What Makes a Baby?" is a Children's Book project, written by certified sexuality educator Corey Silverberg, and illustrated by award-winning artist Fiona Smyth.

Kinsey Confidential: What is your book about, and who is it written for?

Cory Silverberg: What Makes a Baby is a children’s picture book about where babies come from that fits for every kind of family and every kind of kid.

Geared to readers from pre-school to about 8 years old, it teaches curious kids about conception, gestation, and birth in a way that works regardless of whether or not the kid in question was adopted, conceived using reproductive technologies at home or in a clinic, through surrogacy, or the old fashioned way (you know, with two people and some sexual intercourse).  And it fits for all families regardless of how many people are involved, their orientation, gender and other identities.

KC: What do you hope to accomplish with the book?

CS: The goal of the book is simple.  I want to give parents a tool that will let them explain to their children the basics of how all humans are made AND give them an opportunity to share with their children the unique story of their own birth and how they came to be in their family.  What Makes a Baby does this in a way that is inclusive and open so that parents can bring their own values and beliefs to the story telling.  I don’t want to tell parents how to do this, I wanted to give them something that would support them in doing it in a way that feels genuine for them.

KC: What led you into sex education in general? What values do you hold that motivate you in this work?

CS: I was raised by a sex therapist and a children’s librarian so sexuality and information about sex is something that was part of growing up.  Sexuality is the best and most interesting way for me to understand the world and the people around me so I can’t really imagine doing anything else.  It took many years for me to find that sex education, over sex therapy or research, best suited my personality and work styles.

What I value most is access and inclusion.  My sex education work would probably best be described as coming from a social justice perspective.  My work is about having thoughtful, accessible, and open conversations about sexuality and doing so across divides of experience and power.  If you surround yourself by people “like you” (whatever that means) and by people who agree with you, I imagine life would be very boring and you wouldn’t learn very much.

KC: How does sex education from an early age prepare someone for adapting to college life and adult relationships?

CS: Of course there are lots of people with an opinion on this.  I can only offer my perspective. Which is that whatever your experience of sexuality and sex information as a child, as an adult you can grow and develop sexual expression and sexual experience that is healthy and pleasurable.  So many of us experience pain, violence, and coercion around sex but we can move through that to something enjoyable, self-determined, and affirming.  It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

Having said that, there’s no doubt in my mind that raising a child with the basic information they need to know about sexuality,and with a good understanding of boundaries, sexual rights, and sexual responsibilities, will go a long way toward them having an easier time finding their own way of being sexual in the world.

KC: What advice would you offer college students who came from homes lacking in sex education?

CS: The great thing about college is that it’s a time for learning.  And that’s not just classroom learning.  So my advice is that whether you’re having sex or not, if you’re curious make use of the libraries you have access to, student groups, human sexuality courses, and the community of people who are, more or less, at the same stage of life you are.

If you are interested in supporting the “What Makes a Baby?” project, visit Cory’s Kickstarter page. In part 2 of the interview (coming soon), Cory will offer some thoughts about parenting and sex ed.

Adam Fisher, M.A.

is a Ph.D. student in Counseling Psychology at Indiana University. Adam's professional interests include couple & sex therapy, parent education, and working with college students. His dissertation is investigating the effects of religious belief change on romantic relationships.
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