I am an open mother. What does that mean? It means, that since my oldest was able to talk I have been saying words like vagina, penis, vulva, sex, fuck, shit, damn it, and all of the things that many parents choose not to say around their children. No, my children are not out running around repeating my curse words…although, I admit, I tell them that because I know they want to say them, as long as they keep it in their heads rather than out of their mouths…it’s cool. I have also been known to tell them that they are “toilet words, use them in the bathroom.” I have firm beliefs that by hiding things from my kids it will encourage them to seek out information from sources that are generally unrealiable, i.e., friends, the internet, etc.
I believe, no, I know, that by being open and sharing things with my children about the realities of life I am allowing my children to feel comfortable with sharing things about their world with me and I want them to be able to ask questions without feeling ashamed, without feeling small or wrong or any of the hundreds of feelings that go through a child, prepubescent, adolescent, and young adult. I feel that by showing my humanity, my weaknesses, my whole self to my kids I am giving them space to be fallible, to break rules but admit when they did so, to learn through mistakes and be okay with it, I am giving them empowerment by understanding themselves wholly and completely (at some point).
We have talks about theology, about politics, about critical thinking, about why questioning the norm is a good thing, about kindness, equality, feminism, abortion, racism, slavery, immigration, cognitive change, self-awareness…these are standard conversation in our home. These conversations are setting the tone for my kids as they get older to be able to be confident that their opinions are not the only opinions. That it is okay to be wrong. That it is good to question authority when you know there is an injustice being served.
And yes, we talk about sex.
Cue the objections from the parents who think that talking about sex is taboo.
“But aren’t you afraid you’ll make them curious about it and then they’ll be out there doing it all the time? You’ll be a grandma by the time you’re thirty seven!!”
No. I am informing my children about sex, about it’s mystery, it’s beauty, it’s deep implications and the consequences, both physical and emotional, that happen from having it. To deny that my daughters and sons will be having sex would be me living in some sort of alternate reality. To think that by telling them to wait for marriage I am doing them some sort of service is an absolute travesty, for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want my girls out there slutting it up thinking that by sleeping with someone (or someones) that this person now loves them or likes them more. I also do not want my boys out there jumping on top of every Suzy, Jane, and Kate that they can find just because it feels good. What I do want them to know however, are things like:
- Sex makes babies. This is a fact. The only 100% way to prevent this is by not having sex with that person. Think about that. Babies turn into children, who turn into teenagers, who turn into adults. You’re looking at a lifelong committment here…literally. Babies come with bills. Babies come with screaming, not sleeping in, and fights with that person who you had sex with. Babies are beautiful, wonderful, terrifying creatures that you may not yet be prepared for. It’s important that you realize this before you put yourself into the position of having one with this person who you really want to have sex with right now. Think about that…is this other person ready to be a parent? If you’re questioning it…the answer is probably not. If you can’t see that person changing a diaper in your mind’s eye…if you think it’s more likely they’ll be at the club…the answer should be no.
- Sex can come with diseases. Some curable…some not. Things like chlamydia, herpes, ghonorrhea, HPV, and even HIV. Here children, look at these pictures. Daughter, do you want your vagina to look like that? Son, do you want it to burn when you pee? Having sex thoughtlessly, and sometimes even with someone who professes to love you, can lead to these things. Here…this is a condom!! This is how to use it. This is what it prevents, but even that is not 100% effective. I was lucky enough to escape this…I have friends (plural) who have things that they wish they could give back…the gifts that keep on giving, if you will.
- Sex should be pleasurable. Sex is about BOTH parties. If your partner is not on that line of thinking, that may be affecting other areas of your relationship too. Thoughtful partners are partners worth keeping. The female orgasm is NOT a myth. Boys, do your part. Girls, do not undervalue your pleasure…it’s for you as much as him. COMMUNICATION IS KEY!! You cannot TEXT someone what you need…you have to learn to verbalize it. If you cannot say things like, touch me here, I like that, no, your penis isn’t going there, I don’t like it…you’re likely not ready for sex.
- It is YOUR body. You do NOT, I repeat NOT, HAVE TO HAVE SEX IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO. This is for my daughters as well as my sons. There is pressure out there for all adolescents to be “hooking up”, boys as well as girls. For them, it’s a status symbol, it’s just what kids are doing, and they all seem to think that it’s , “no big deal.” Yes, it is a HUGE DEAL. If you feel, even 1% of you feels, that this is NOT what you should be doing right now or what you WANT to be doing right now, please, please my children, please stop.
- Speaking of it being your body, do not be ashamed that you want to touch it. This is a normal, natural thing for both boys and girls. You probably shouldn’t be touching it all of the time, or in public…some things are best kept private, but it is NORMAL. I swear. Yep. Dad and Mom did this too. Sound gross? Maybe you’re not ready for sex.
- Hormones are involved. And I don’t just mean the ones that get you all excited and make you want to do it. I’m talking about oxytocin…ladies…this is for you. We have sex and this little area in our brain just lights up with this chemical called oxytocin. You may have heard of it. It promotes pleasure, happiness, BONDING….hello!!! Bonding…let’s talk about that. Is this the girl you want to get crazy with? Is this the man you want to feel crazy about? I mean literally…like he is yours now. If so, have sex. Because that little chemical will create that bond (oxytocin is also produced during breastfeeding) and you will now have bonded yourself to this man. Yes, you can break that bond. But sex is something you can never get back. Boys, I know that you don’t get a flood of oxytocin, you get some testosterone and a sense of a job well done. But remember…she did. And you are now responsible for that. Act accordingly. She’s someone’s daughter, sister, cousin…there’s a dad and mom out there somewhere who. will. kill. you. Act accordingly. And girls, he is someone’s son, brother, cousin. Equally there is a mom and a dad out there who. will. kill. you.
- Birth control is a thing. Please, please, please come see me before you decide to give your body to someone else. I will support you. I will help you. I am here. If not me, please see someone else who will support you, help you, and be there. Don’t be dumb and forgo this one. Babies are cute, however, please see Step 1.
- The mechanics of sex are not the best thing about it. When you love someone and you make love to them, it is an entirely different thing than just a “hookup.” My girls…hooking up can be fun, interesting, and you will certainly learn about yourself, but please, please, please…see steps 1-7. Boys, you can hook up with little to no thought if you so choose, but please, please, please…see steps 1-7. Sex can be funny, and sweet, and silly, and hardcore, and erotic, and pleasurable, but it can also be mechanical, not so fun, boring, and simple if you don’t have the person who wants to give you his or her best. See steps 1-7 before you choose this door.
- Sex should not be about control. It is not for you to use to control someone else, it’s not a promise that you have to make good by prom night, it’s not something that you withhold in an argument during a relationship, it. is. sacrosanct. If you don’t know what that word means, you are probably not ready for sex.
So, to end this article…yes, I told my daughter she doesn’t have to wait for marriage. Why? Because it’s HER body. It’s HER choice. I will not shame her or my other children into feeling that they are doing something unacceptable by wanting to know about their bodies, wanting to experiment, wanting to understand what is going on. I believe that the idea of “purity” is a construct created by a man who sought to control his “property.” Women are NOT property and a woman damn well needs to know what she wants, how to communicate it, and how to derive pleasure from an act that is so intimate, so personal, so absolutely empowering, possibly the closest thing to a higher power that we can do as humans. As a relationship coach, you wouldn’t believe how many people (men and women) are unsatisfied in their sex life. I do not want this for ANY of my children. I want happiness, joy, self-worth, relationship satisfaction, LIFE SATISFACTION. And that’s that.
**This article is about how I raise MY children. I am not imposing my beliefs onto you and your family. I do feel strongly that communication is the best way to prevent problems down the road. Take that how you like. Yes, my oldest is 11. No, she is not too young to know about sex. There are girls out there hooking up at the age of 10…pregnancy at 11, 12, 13 and up is a real thing. I’m preparing her.