About Martha Morrison Gelin, PhD

Sex education at home is a sensitive topic, and you may want to know about my background and qualifications. Yes, I'm a parent, and a grandparent; and yes, the suggestions I offer in The Sex EXplanation Handbook are based in real life. Kids want to understand the world, and sexuality is one part of that world. Though they may not say it, they will appreciate your help in learning about it.


I was born in the USA, and have lived and worked in several states there, as well as in Ontario, Canada; and in Tasmania and New South Wales in Australia. My family and I migrated to Australia in 1981, and are proud Aussies.

I've studied and received university degrees in Education, Social Science, Social Work and Counselling, and Sexuality Education from Vanderbilt University and the University of Pennsylvania. My PhD from Penn is in Education, specialising in Sex Education. Most of my professional work has been in counselling, in health education, university lecturing, and in educating professionals, parents and general community members about various aspects of sex.

Why sex education? As a parent, I found a lack of information as to how to word things, especially for younger children. We talked about sex openly in our family, which means that we explained the details about how sex works in the real world, and always answered questions when they came up. In addition, I found there were subjects like sexual crimes which the kids had not asked about, but which they needed to know about as they got a bit older.

As I went back to university to study sexuality, and as I taught the subject to young social workers and ran workshops for professionals, I found that parents in these groups always, always came up to me afterwards with questions and concerns about how to explain sex to their own children. Over 20 years, though the sexual topics got tougher and tougher, and were coming up with younger and younger children, the basic question from parents was always the same – "What do I say?"

I did my PhD research with parents, exploring what they said to their children. This formed the basis for the first edition of this book, called Sex in Simple Words. This second edition – The Sex EXplanation Handbook – has been updated and now includes more information on helping kids develop personal safety habits. My book uses the kind of plain language that kids can understand – and actual words for different age groups so parents can explain even the most difficult topics to children from preschool age through the teens.

My hope is that The Sex EXplanation Handbook will be useful to parents, and to those working with children and teenagers.

If you’re interested in why I wrote this book, and its first edition, click here.


Dr Martha Gelin, Author.

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