Three boys. That’s what we’ve got. And I’ve more than once heard, “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about anyone getting knocked up.” Jeeze. Is our culture so consumed with the idea that sex is only an issue when the family has to deal with the “embarrassment” of their unmarried daughter getting “knocked up?” And does this then mean that the boy, the other 50% of why the girl is pregnant, has no fault in the situation?
After my husband mentioned the Stanford swimmer rape case to me, I’ve read every article I can get my hands on. And it’s all left me disgusted. First, because of the way the father of the rapist completely defends the actions of his son. And completely doesn’t understand what rape is. Second, because it is clear that these parents never discussed several key points about sex with their children.
Talking sex with kids is not the most enjoyable situation in the world. But I think, specifically in this day and age—one with STDs running rampant, abortions used as birth control, and the morning after pill in high demand—we owe it to our children to have the uncomfortable discussions that will someday make for comfortable sexual encounters for them as consensual partners.
It just so happens that both my husband and I waited to have sexual intercourse for the first time until our wedding night. I am not saying I was a saint. I had explored other sexual activities prior. But had never experienced intercourse. When people ask me why, I often say, “I just didn’t want to get pregnant. And then, I was a 19-year-old virgin. And the boy I met also was. And so we just decided to wait. And then, we waited until marriage.” It wasn’t a huge religious statement on my part or even something my parents threatened me into. It was just a decision I made. And it worked for us.
So, having been a virgin and having one partner, many people ask what I will tell my boys about sex. Will I tell them I expect them to wait? No. Not exactly. Not definitively. Because if I simply tell them no, depending on their personalities, that may just mean they won’t talk to me about it.
Yes. You just read that. But I have real reasons. After having a discussion with a very brilliant friend, she helped me form my ideas for different statements I will tell my boys about sex. And how my husband and I will approach it.
Here are 7 ways my husband and I will educate our children about sex:
It is not one discussion.
People talk about “having the sex talk.” There will not be just one “sex talk” in our household. There will be many. It will be an ongoing discussion. Because if I want them to talk with me about their sexual activity, I need to help them understand that it’s something they can easily discuss.
Start early and talk often.
This is very personal which is why I’ve never shared it, but when one of my children turned 4, he started having “tingles” in his penis. He started having times where he would “smoosh it” because it made the tingles go away. I immediately talked with a friend who is a school psych and his pediatrician. I was concerned that he’d been assaulted. A 4-year-old interested in his penis?! Who on earth told him about this? Turns out, it’s completely normal. It is simply a physical response of the body. And it starts earlier in some than others. So, we talked with him about it. We told him it was nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. But that if he feels the need to make it not tingle, it needs to be in the privacy of his room, never with anyone else around, and never show anyone else what he does, even if they ask. The reality is, if humans believe sexual acts to be deviant, they are more likely to hide them from you.
Call the parts what they are.
I know. This is uncomfortable for some parents. For some reason, penis is easy for me to say while vagina is a little bit uncomfortable. And I don’t really care what other people choose to do with their own children. But in reading, it is recommended that by the time your kids go to school, they know and use the correct names for their private parts. This gives them the reality that these parts are actually physical aspects of their bodies.
Let them know if they want to have sex, they need to communicate with their partner beforehand.
It’s not just about hopping into the back seat of a car. Sex should be something that they can talk openly about with their monogamous partner if they are thinking they are ready to have it. If they can’t talk openly and say the words—discuss what the consequences are if they would make a baby together and how they would plan to raise that baby—if they can’t have a talk about sex, their bodies aren’t emotionally ready to handle it.
Tell them that sex is something that needs to be mutually respectful.
This means that sex is not wham bam, thank you, ma’am 30 seconds of get it and split. It means both partners need to fully consent. Both partners need to feel comfortable. And both partners need to understand the act they are performing carries more meaning than just physical pleasure for the 16-year-old male. And, of course, if at any point . . . ANY POINT . . . either person says “No” or “I don’t want to do this” or “Stop” or “Can we not?” any of those things and many others, then it is time to stop. End it. No questions. No acceptions. Rape is rape. A non-consensual partner, no matter which one, means rape.
Tell them sex is something that should be mutually enjoyable.
Again, I didn’t do the deed in high school, partially because I was very immature I think. But one thing I noted in talking to friends is that the sex they were having was not always necessarily enjoyable for the girl. It almost always ended after the guy finished. And the girl rarely had an orgasm. While these things might feel uncomfortable to tell your 17-year-old, the reality is that sex is meant to be mutually enjoyable. An act of love that makes two people feel closer. Not an act of lust that leaves one or the other feeling lonely, unsatisfied, or without the ability to discuss the act. If a boy and a girl cannot discuss the physical aspects of sexual intercourse and how they feel about it, in my opinion, they are not ready to have it.
Safety is key.
With all of this being said, I hope that if my children are thinking about having sex, they can have that conversation with my husband and me. I hope they can, without embarrassment, explain why they want to do it, and that they have given it thought. Because if they are going to have pre-marital sex, it needs to be safe. In a safe environment, with their heart in consideration, and using protection. Because safe sex is not simply about using protection, it is also about being educated that when you have sex, you are giving a part of yourself away to that person and becoming emotionally attached to them. It is also about being sober when it occurs. And making a clear-minded decision. And while I would love to say my kids just won’t have sex, having three children and knowing that 50% of high schoolers are having sexual intercourse, I can either be a part of the discussion beforehand or after something unfortunate occurs.
Given the most recent reports in the news of rape and college athletes, I think it is more important than ever to educate our children about sex. Whether you teach abstinence, or otherwise, I believe it is imperative that it be a true discussion within your household. And it might be uncomfortable to say the words “masturbation, blow job, or anal sex” to your tween or teen children, the reality is, they are either hearing the words from you or from their friends. Wouldn’t you rather it were you?
So, for now, with my boys being 7, 4, and 2, we simply talk about respecting all people. Not touching people inappropriately. Not touching ourselves in public. And we call a penis a penis. And over the years, those discussions will evolve. And my husband and I both plan to be in on them.
I cannot imagine being Mr. Turner. I cannot imagine actually verbalizing the words “20 minutes of action” when talking about his son preying on a passed-out girl and having one-sided intercourse with her reducing the act to a sick, quick, physical act. I cannot imagine in any world believing that my son should be forgiven for choosing to victimize a woman and take away her innocence. It is completely not OK. It leads me to believe the discussion about sex in their home went something like this, “atta boy, son!”
I know this is all easier said than done. I know it is giving my kids pretty high expectations . . . but I think that’s OK.
And I realize it’s a lot to talk about. And I know I don’t have kids at the age yet where sex is on their minds. But it could happen any day. And I want to be in their lives when that occurs. Even if they find me annoying and intrusive. Isn’t that what parenting is about?
But seriously, I don’t have all the answers for all the scenarios, but I do believe that keeping things open and safe for discussion is the first step for teaching our kids anything. We are not here to be their friends. We are here to teach them how to win the world. And that can only be achieved when they understand there are actions and there are consequences that go with them. And that, at some point, they own their own consequences. So hopefully, they make good decisions.