Let’s Talk About Sex

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Sexuality is a funny thing. Sex is a funny thing. We’re sharing the earth with billions of our best friends, so clearly we’re doing something right. Or if not right, we’re certainly doing it at the very least. Because it feels good. Because we as humans are sexual beings. I hosted a speaker for a continuing education course for mental health professionals. The speaker reminded us that our kids are having sex. He threw out all these statistics from surveys of middle school and high school kids. And I have no idea how these kids are getting into college, because they are really busy engaging in sexual activities. My immediate solution for my own kids was to start home schooling them. So at least they won’t be data points having sex.

We need to talk to our kids about sex so that they’re safe and prepared and not shamed or scared. What do we say and when? It seems so scary and confusing–for us as parents to even consider these discussions. So if it incites panic and fear in us, imagine what it does for young kids who are exposed to sexuality and sexual images from birth with advertising, and TV show plots, and dolls with large breasts and short skirts. They know something’s up, but they don’t know quite what that is. Until we tell them.

Or until they hear misinformation from their friends. Your choice. The discussions need to go beyond the plumbing and the procedures and technical terms. It starts with that. But then it must go to talking to both girls and boys about how to say no if they’re uncomfortable or uncertain about something. We need to teach our girls and boys how to advocate for themselves–if premarital sex is an option in your family’s belief system, teach them how to insist on safe sex practices and how to make good sexual choices. What words do you use? If your family does not believe in premarital sex, teach your kids what words to use to insist on that. I personally don’t care what your beliefs on sex are–just teach your kids what words to use. And practice saying them. Out loud.

Teach your children no matter what your beliefs are of when to have sex, that sex is intimate and important, and tell them in what ways. Sex is fun and feels good. Sex carries a lot of responsibility. Sex is a great source of pleasure and babies and itchy, oozing sores and funny noises and reputations and power and connections and intimacy and vulnerability. There are so many gray areas to discuss.

There’s also a lot of gray areas regarding orientation. Back in the day, when we whispered “cancer,” we thought of sexuality in primarily binary terms. Gay or Straight. Then some time probably close to the oil crises and the long gas lines of the ’70s, we recognized Bisexuality. Today, there’s LGBTQA. Let me interpret: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Asexual.

A lot of research has been conducted on sexuality through the years. And it clearly notes that sexuality is a spectrum. Different people fall on different places of this spectrum, and for many people, that place on the spectrum is fluid throughout one’s lifetime. Sound confusing?

Think about how confusing it can be to a hormone-riddled child dealing with societal pressures and peer pressures. So here’s where words matter. If we talk to our kids about how confusing or weird this all is, they’ll grow up learning this is confusing and weird. And they will have difficulty understanding this, understanding other people, understanding themselves. When sex and sexuality are really about intimacy and connections and being vulnerable and sharing oneself. That’s the most important part they need to know.

If we teach them about sex and sexuality and sexual orientation as simply a natural part of life, that it’s not odd or dirty or shameful or aberrant, then they won’t think it’s anything but what it is. And they have a better chance of making good decisions about sex that are healthy for them. We are responsible for setting the tone, setting the baseline, setting the expectations.

So when my children were much younger, I looked into the options for Chinese school on the weekends for them. I discovered the two schools in my area either taught simplified Chinese or traditional Chinese characters. The simplified Chinese uses fewer strokes in each character, and thus is thought to be easier to learn. I chose the traditional, because it is what my parents learned, and what was taught to them. I liked tradition.

My father asked me why I did that. He thought I was making things harder for my kids by teaching them a harder version of the language. No, I said. It’s harder for people who grew up learning simplified Chinese to learn more strokes. But when my kids are learning a new language with no baseline or expectation, it’s hard no matter what. To them, it will be what it will be. Not harder, not easier. It just is. It’s just a new language for them to learn. They don’t know the difference.

So we must use our words and teach our children the new language of navigating a sexual world as sexual beings. They don’t know the difference now. They have only the baseline expectations you provide them. Consider your words carefully. And use them.

And I bet you never considered how learning Chinese was a lot like sex. You’re welcome.

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8 Responses to Let’s Talk About Sex

  1. Another wise and clever post. No, I never thought learning Chinese was like sex, and not sure I want to. Is this the inappropriate part? XD

    Liked by 3 people

  2. pennysrice says:

    Well said … and as one who was a parent back when ‘cancer’ was whispered, I always answered my son’s questions (which started around 3 yrs old) with correct terminology answering the question factually and in a matter of fact manner. He would consider the answer and a couple of days or weeks later he’d ask another question. Of course, little did I know for a while, that he was conducting his own sex ed classes at the playground sandbox while we all looked on. That is until the mothers confronted me with outrage that not only did he know the correct words and information, he was sharing it with their little darlings. I then had to explain to him that our conversations had to be private … try teaching a 3 year old what private is. The really sad thing is that he learned shame from these other parents and although I tried to mitigate that, he learned that there is something wrong with knowing about how our bodies worked. (And he didn’t really know much.) He grew up with healthy attitudes about sex and he has always had respect for girls/women and he was able to pass that on to his own daughters and son.

    Liked by 3 people

    • What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing this!! That is indeed a shame the parents were fearful and conveyed their fear through shame. Kudos to you for being pivotal in raising generations of healthy people!! 🙂

      Like

  3. Healing Grief says:

    Brava! great post and I agree with all your thoughts. This approach has guided my 19yr old into informed choices. Not sure how to comment about the Chinese ha.
    Karen

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! Good for you arming your child with the inner fortitude and the knowledge to make informed choices. Kids may not (will not) do what we want oftentimes, but if they can critically think, that’s the most important thing I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Dani says:

    Well-written, as always. And this:

    “I personally don’t care what your beliefs on sex are–just teach your kids what words to use. And practice saying them. Out loud.”

    Wonderful.

    With heart,
    Dani

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! I think we often forget how hard it is to utter hard things under stress. Practicing those words out loud in neutral places to find your own voice–that really helps to be able to assert one’s desires under stress. I think, at least!

      Liked by 1 person

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