***Warning: content not for everyone.***
No discussion of rainbows and bunnies today, folks!
You thought that was bad? This other talk is even more scary!
The birds. The bees. Ya, THAT talk!
And not just for the kiddos staring absently at the wall before them hearing it.
One thing you may not know about me is that when I was preparing for my teaching days, I really wanted to be the one to teach sex ed. I know that's odd but I felt someone really needed to do it the right way, and I wanted to be that person. I'm a product of the hippie generation so maybe that makes it make more sense. I actually lived in van down by the river at one point in my life. Literally. Okay, so it was an ocean, not a river. But still, I lived in a van. A wonderful stereotypical hippie VW bus that I still adore, and I had my own bed and everything! They were great times!
See how easy it is to get side tracked when we have to talk about it?
When it comes time for the talk, I'm not really one to shy away. Those scary words don't really scare me or make me feel particularly awkward. The P word. The V word. My parents talked to me about this stuff pretty matter of factly, and contrary to my husband's ultra-conservative Baptist upbringing the proper vocabulary words when it's appropriate to use them, float around this house pretty comfortably too. But I know that's not the case for everyone. Make NO doubt about it, that if you're not educating your children about sex and relationships, someone else is. The television. Someone at school or the internet. It is happening. 100% for sure.
First of all, I don't think the talk should be a singular occasion. For us, the talk is a progression of conversations that starts out very young. Because ultimately, the talk is more a discussion about relationships than sex. So in our house, the talk is something that progresses over years, not all at once or at one time. It starts when they are young about what good friendships looks like, and what bad ones feel like and what it means to be a good friend. We talk a lot about how love is a verb, and actions speak for more loudly and clearly than words. We speak about serving God and others first, before self, and look for examples and point them out in our own family. Did you do your sister's chore on her birthday without being asked? Oh goodness, that's God's hands right there! We discuss doing what you should and not necessarily what you want and how the two are often at odds. Impulse control. THESE are some of the foundations that we'll build upon when we talk specifically about sex later.
But let's get down to brass tacks. Eventually, there are things a parent has to say to growing kiddos. And when you have to say these specific thing to your own rapidly growing and maturing children, it's different! You have to, you need to say these specific awkward things eventually.
Like last night.
Oh help me.
Because like I mentioned, if you don't talk with them about sex, even if that means talking at them rather than with them, they will hear it from someone else. And who do you want creating that foundation? Only you of course! So the goal is to beat the other someone else to it.
We do think that the same sex parent is the one that has the most influence on a child and is likely the one that will need to lead most of the discussions. Moms influencing their daughters the most and dad impacting their sons the most. BUT I don't think that gets the other parent off the hook about talking about the hard stuff. Mom's still have to talk to the sons, and Dad need to have the talk with their daughters too. Our children need to hear the perspective of the opposite gender parent. And the other parent needs to reinforce what the same-sex parent is discussing anyway. Honestly, the more we talk about it with out children, the more we reinforce the foundation we are trying to build. So I'm a firm believer that, moms, you need to be talking to your sons too. You need to be reinforcing your husband's talk and giving your sons a woman's perspective.
We do explicitly tell our teens that we expect our children to wait until they're married to have sex. We say it a lot. And we are also realistic and know what type of world we live in. So we additionally tell our teens that if they do decide to have sex before they are married we will not judge them, and that they absolutely must tell us before they do, so some things can happen to ensure their safety which we explicitly spell out. Diseases are real. We talk about the specifics of VD and what they do to your body. And pregnancy will change the course of not only their life, but a child's life also... forever! Sexually active women of any age need to see a doctor. In the middle of these hard talks I make this very clear; if a child isn't comfortable talking about sex and VD with a doctor, and telling us that he/she is thinking about it, and talking about and making decisions about birth control, and going to see a doctor and yes, putting her feet up in the stirrups then she likely isn't mature enough to have sex either. I want them to know it's serious. It's real. In some ways I want it to feel awkward emphasizing it is a big deal. And ultimately we know that they are the only ones that are in the control of making this decision.
Are you waiting for you teenager to come to you with questions to start that talk? To all the mamas (and dad's too!) I'd recommend that you bring up these talks with your children. I think it's a rare child that's going to be coming to you about these things. I hope they do, but under no circumstances do I think my children are going to come to me to talk about the hard stuff. The vast majority of these talks, some times every single talk with some children, are brought up by a parent. There is no way that I would have brought it up with my folks, and that fact keeps me talking to my kiddos even more. Strangely, 95% of these talks happen in the car where I have a captive audience. The kiddo can't get away, and it's a one-on-one conversion except for maybe a toddler that's obliviously to it all. And the teen has the comfort of knowing that the conversation will end as soon as the destination is reached.
If your neck of the woods is anything like mine, sex is already being discussed in middle school. Pictures and videos are being looked up on YouTube on their friend's cell phones while at the cafeteria at school. Really.
And I'll end this by saying what I always say on these parenting posts... what in the world do I know! Seriously folks, 3 teenagers later with 1 more coming down the chute and 3 more after that, we still feel like we're winging all this stuff. It's very possible I'm all wrong because it has so happened before! This is just what seems to work for our family so far. And what works for one family may not work for another. So take what you like and leave the rest on the page.
This is hard stuff. But like I said, I think it's important to talk about.