Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

There’s been a recent spate of advertisements on the radio about how to talk to your teenagers about sex.  It starts out with teenaged girls telling you their experiences as a single mother, boys telling you about peer pressure and the imagined status associated with having sex already, girls talking about dreams they don’t want to side-step because of an unplanned pregnancy.  Then there’s a the voice of a parent, sounding unsure, confused, attempting to have a conversation with their child who reduces the process of creation to basic biology.  And the parent sounds even more out of it.  Then an announcer comes on telling you of a website (which I can’t for the life of me remember) designed to give parents pointers on how to talk to their teenagers.

I get so frustrated when I hear it.  I shout to the air, “REALLY????”  Do parents REALLY wait until their children are teenagers to talk about sex?  I’m not going to say it’s ever too late but honestly, you’ve missed the boat.

By the time our girls are in fourth grade, the hot topic of conversation on the playground doesn’t have anything to do with Barbie.  It’s about lesbianism.  Even though I’d already discussed this particular subject with my girls when they were young, the school counselor at Hannah’s elementary school (four years ago) felt it was necessary to address it during conference time.  “We just want to make you aware, Ms. Smith, of discussions on the playground surrounding lesbianism.  Don’t worry about it; it’s very normal at this age, a common theme among 4th grade girls.”  I didn’t stress about it – but I WAS surprised.  I didn’t realize conversations of this nature occurred quite so young.  I was relieved I had already talked about homosexuality with my daughter.  The last thing I want is for someone else to tell my daughter what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s normal, what’s not.  The suicide rate among homosexual teenagers is just too high.  If my children are gay, I’ll be darned if I’m going to let someone else belittle them, drain them of their burgeoning self-worth, turn them into an outcast.

The next hot button hits in junior high, when boys and girls alike are trying to decide if giving/receiving blow jobs is really sex.  Hmmmmm.  “I did NOT have sex with that woman!”  Riiiiiight.

Developing a relationship with your children where every and all question is given the respect of a truthful answer is imperative in today’s world.  Yes, we weigh carefully how we’ll respond.  When Joshua was 5 years old, having just started kindergarten and riding the bus with the big kids, he came home and asked me what a pussy was.  I looked at him and without missing a beat said, “A pussy is a kitty cat.”  He accepted my answer until 6 years later.  I remember clearly this day.  Joshua pushed the front door of our apartment open, and with legs akimbo, hands on his hips yelled, “MOM!!!  A PUSSY IS NOT A CAT!!!”  And again, I looked at him and without missing a beat said, “You’re right, Joshua.  “Pussy” is a slang term for vagina.  But when you were five years old, a pussy was a cat.”

I taught my kids the real names for their body parts.  From the movie, Kindergarten Cop: Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina.  There were no “Twinkies” at my house.  The only code word we developed was “privacy”.  When Rebekah was still a toddler, we were at the grocery store.  In her sing-song little girl voice, she delivered, “Mom.  My vagina itches.”  You should have seen the looks this statement garnered!  You’d have thought there wasn’t another little girl on the planet who had a vagina.  Just mine.  So, for public purposes, we called our parts “privacy”.  It worked for my boys and my girls.

When Hannah was five years old, while curled up in bed with me one Saturday morning, she asked me what a penis looked like.  With a pen and a napkin found beside my bed, I proceeded to draw an outline of a penis.  This conversation proceeded into purpose.  Then I had to draw a uterus and ovaries and a scrotum.  We discussed urination.  Hannah had all the details of creation at age five.  She asked, I answered.  Being Momma, I got to add in, “When a man and a woman love each other very much and want to spend the rest of their lives with each other, sometimes they decide to make a baby.”  I explained she wasn’t allowed to share this information with her friends, but she could talk to me about it whenever she wanted to.

I remember the first time I found photos of naked women from the neck down on my computer.  Boys will be boys!  I could have gone off the deep end, but I didn’t.  Hey, at least they were photos of girls, I thought.  They could have been pictures of dogs!!  Instead of losing it, we had a conversation about respect.  It’s perfectly natural to appreciate the female body but don’t disrespect a woman to do it.  And, next time, figure out how to hide it a little better so I can’t find it, hm?

When my kids were older and asked more detailed questions, I gave very forthright answers.  When abstinence was a topic of conversation in youth group or in school, I was brutally honest.  Why shouldn’t you have sex at your age?  Because once you do, you’ll never want to stop.  Why?  Because it really feels good.  While other parents were quoting the Bible and shaking their head no, trying to instill the fear of God into their children, I explained to mine the immense pleasure they’d experience.  I explained it wasn’t meant to be shared with just anyone.  The level of intimacy,  it’s not just sharing your body but trusting the person you choose to share with who you are, truly, deep inside.  It’s one of the most emotionally liberating experiences they’d ever have.  Words cannot do justice.  It’s not ‘just’ sex.

Teen Vogue has some very interesting little sidebars which discuss sexual topics.  What if Bekah didn’t trust me enough to ask questions about what she’d read?  Who would I trust to give her good, solid answers?  The questions raised weren’t about the kama sutra!

To be honest, I struggle with the waiting until you’re married bit.  Having been sexually abused for so long, what if he had been the man to introduce me to sex?  I would have thought how he treated me was normal, was okay, was allowed.  Would I ever have had the courage to leave?  I have this conversation with my children also.  In a perfect world, I would wish you have only one partner your entire life.  The depth of the emotion you’ll experience when you share your body with someone else is …. words cannot explain.

Having conversations like these aren’t the result of a radio commercial and an internet search.  They’re the result of listening to my children, earning their respect, not demanding it, gaining and keeping their trust, from valuing their opinions, even if they’re different from mine, from believing in them when nobody else seems to, from putting myself in their shoes and recognizing they’re different from me, from realizing I don’t know everything and I can learn from them, just as they can learn from me.

It’s been said it’s a mistake if you’re friends with your children as they grow up.  I say it’s a huge mistake, especially in today’s society, if you’re NOT your child’s friend.  Which of your child’s friends do you trust to educate your child about sex?


  1. Rebekah Smith said,

    5 September, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    I love you, mom. Enough said. (: Except that I say my vagina itches when it does. Maybe I won’t yell it… But hey! I’m just sharing.

    • TealThumb said,

      6 September, 2011 at 8:51 AM

      I know you do, Rebekah. 🙂 I wouldn’t change anything about you, I don’t care what anyone says!

  2. Laurie Blair said,

    6 September, 2011 at 2:05 AM

    Hey Donna, Awesome! Good to know I am not alone! I did all these things and I agree, who says being a good parent doesn’t mean being a good friend when your kids need you to be. Only thing you forgot, in that teenage discussion of why not to have sex now… “I you do have sex, you now have someone who has seen you naked. And if you don’t stay with them , you may meet them later in life as a co-worker, boss, or out with your spouse and lovely family and all you will be thinking is…this person saw me naked. And you will wish you had thought things through a little more…

    • TealThumb said,

      6 September, 2011 at 8:43 AM

      I never thought to add that Laurie! Thankfully, nobody who has ever seen me naked has been one of those people!


  3. Sharon Donovan said,

    23 September, 2011 at 10:27 PM

    Hi. What happened to your blog? Haven’t seen any updates since this one (Sept.5th).

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