Friday, April 13, 2007

Sex talks!

I'm going to make a generalization here, but...why do Christians refuse to deal with the topic of sex in an honest manner? Why do they, especially, with children, make sex into a taboo topic? I don't understand that mentality.

Possum#1 came in to my room, this afternoon, and asked me a question about sexually transmitted disease. She's going in for her annual check-up with the pedi on Monday and she wanted some more information on the HPV immunization. She was so frank about it. I was on the phone with a Christian friend of mine and she overheard P#1's question; her response was one of mock horror. "Did she just ask you about an STD?!?", said my friend. I told my friend that "Yes, she did." and I'd have to call her back.

P#1 and I talked about the immunization. We looked up some information and then I helped her call her pediatrician to ask her questions. It was very casual and "matter-of-fact". Of course, because we were talking about this immunization, I made sure to inform her that if she ever had sex without protection, pre-marriage, I'd kill her myself. (KIDDING!) She asked me about male condoms versus female condoms... so, once again, we had to research it together because I'm freaking clueless when it comes to female condoms. But, not once in our conversation was it "embarassing" or "shocking". It was just one of many talks. KWIM?

So, I called my Christian friend back and she was like, "Oh my God...what did you say to her? Where did she hear about sexually transmitted diseases? Are you so mad??"
WTF?! I told her that I was actually amazingly comforted by the fact that my twelve year old knows enough about the realities of sex to be concerned about risks. My twelve year old knows enough about immunizations to have asked the question, "Mom...will I have to get a booster after a few years or will this cover me for life?" Seriously, as a Catholic child, I was NEVER that informed, nor would I have ever talked about sex with my mom (like that). Well, this was horrifying to my friend and she's like, "You endorsed sex, though."
Um. NO! I didn't endorse sex. I endorsed curiosity and thought. And, in fact, I told P#1 that I thought she was still a long way from being emotionally or physically prepared for sex. What I did NOT do, and WILL NOT do, is turn sex into some sort of bogeyman. I will not lie to her and tell her that sex is ONLY possible between married people. I won't let her wander into life unprepared and just hope that Jesus saves her virginity. *rolls eyes* No purity balls. No sex contracts. Just education and truth.

How do other atheist parents feel about talking to their kids about sex?
If you don't have kids, how did your parents handle it (theist or atheist) and how did that effect you?


Chuck Frazier said...

Hi, long time lurker, first time commenter. I love reading your stuff.

Funny, my oldest,13, was talking to me today about his health class and things he was learning. He asked me what ejaculation was. This with his 11 year old brother and 14 year old cousin in the car while going 6o MPH. But ,l ike you ,I don't believe in keeping the facts and knowledge from them. I explained it the best I could in the most clinical terms, to avoid adolescent boy laughter.

I am a divorced father of 2 boys. I am an atheist. Not completely sure of the ex's religious views, but I am pretty sure she is a believer. She did go through a "church lady" phase some years ago when we were still together. She doesn't know of my views, only a few do. I often find it hard to figure out how to lead my kids the way I feel they should go. I just try to get them to think for themselves and question everything.

I enjoy your thoughts about your kids and other topics. Please keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous said...

PM, I think you handled that brilliantly. My boys are still so young the topic hasn't come up (oldest is 5) other than "Daddy helped Mommy make the baby" kind of thing. I hope we can have a continuous, open conversation about sex as they get older.

My parents are fundamentalist Christians and never talked about sex, other than "make sure it's someone you can love" (my mom to me) and "Make sure she's pretty" (my dad to my brothers). It was left up to us to absorb church attitudes about it in church, which we did, sex is dirty, only within marriage, only for baby-making, etc... I think it made us feel more guilty over things we really didn't need to be guilty over. I don't think any of us knew how to handle it, how to talk about it, or even the basic operations of sex; out of six of us, only 2 waited until marriage, 2 had multiple partners, and of the 2 who waited, 1 had to watch porn to figure out what to do. The other took 2 months to consummate her marriage. Pathetic.
The upshot is, your daughter will be informed and prepared when it comes up in her life; the other woman's kids will wind up feeling confused and guilty. Knowledge is power.
Love your blog.

Anonymous said...

PS - I am an atheist, but only recently; my opinions about being open with kids regarding sex are far older than my atheism. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, long time lurker, first time commenter. I love reading your stuff.

Welcome aboard! :)

.I explained it the best I could in the most clinical terms, to avoid adolescent boy laughter.

I think this is the best method. If you're discussing it in clinical terms, and being real, there's really not that much to giggle about. I think prudes do themselves a disservice when they label the human body with goofy names for sexual organs. I will never forget hearing a fellow parent say, to her 14 year old daughter, "So, your hoo-hoo is cramping?" I was like, "HUH?" Turns out she meant UTERUS... but, apparently, vagina, uterus, cervix,'s all "hoo hoo". *rolls eyes*
I'd love to see this young lady approach a doctor in four years and try to describe her seeping, yeast infection. "My hoo hoo is a little weepy." ;)

Anyway, thanks for the feedback. Our eldest son (P#2) is still in a "girls have cooties" and "Oh...I actually have a penis?" phase. He did ask what ejaculate was, a few years ago, when I was pregnant, and I said, "It's sperm and fluid." That seemed to suffice.

I think theists imagine that you have to get graphic and give kids a bunch of lude information. I've found that, usually, they just have one, basic question. You don't have to get lude to answer a basic question.

Anonymous said...

I think it made us feel more guilty over things we really didn't need to be guilty over.

I think this is probably a common result of "Church sex" mentality. LOL
Actually, "Church sex" sounds kind of fun. I wonder if I could talk my husband into... nah'...never mind.

Jeff R. said...

All four of my kids are either in, or have completed their university studies, so the situation rarely comes up now.

However, if I did need to know something, I'm sure they'd be happy to discuss it with me sensibly (albeit with choruses of "Awwww - Da-a-a-a-ad!")

Aerik said...

I was lucky enough to live in a time in Kansas between clusterfucks concerning evolution, and I went through a pretty good sex ed program. In fact we had sex ed in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade consecutively at my elementary school Bluejacket (now known as Bluejacket Flint, because the two schools combined).

Sure, we had ancient slide shows from the 70's, but we learned all about sex, how it happens, the biological functions, even a little bit on the different kinds of cells in our sexual organs. We learned about condoms and spermacides, diaphragms, dental dams, that oral sex, anal sex, and masturbation were all healthy and prevalent.

We learned about STD's, including a very in-depth and honest additional study on HIV from the resident Science/Biology teacher.

At 4th grade, we're 8 or 9 years old. And I think I can speak for everybody in my graduating class from elementary school (many of which I still knew through my senior year high school) that we all went on with total astonishment at the ignorance and peevishness of our new school peers after 6th grade concerning sex.

The verdict? Parents don't want to actually do parenting, and they're paralyzed with fear over sex from their Christian upbringing. They're lazy cowards.

Which I guess is an accusation I have to fling at my own parents, as well. The best I ever got from my mother is "you can always talk to me," (too late, this is after the first 4th grade sex ed), "wear a condom," and one time after I spent the night at a girl's house, "I'm not ready to be a grandmother!" Thanks mom, I forgot my sex life is all about you. All I got from my dad was a playboy, after my mom caught me masturbating to his giant box of porno mags (she thought that was just so hilarious). As if a playboy can compete.

If my parents had decided to pull me out of sex ed (even if it were because they disagreed with fraudulent abstinence only education), I think I'd have been just as ignorant as most of the Christians out there. All because my dad was raised super-Catholic and my mom just guesses that if you don't hide the truth from kids, they'll find it themselves and all will be clear and obvious.

I explained it the best I could in the most clinical terms, to avoid adolescent boy laughter.

I think this is the best method. If you're discussing it in clinical terms, and being real, there's really not that much to giggle about. I think prudes do themselves a disservice when they label the human body with goofy names for sexual organs. I will never forget hearing a fellow parent say, to her 14 year old daughter, "So, your hoo-hoo is cramping?" I was like, "HUH?" Turns out she meant UTERUS... but, apparently, vagina, uterus, cervix,'s all "hoo hoo". *rolls eyes*
I'd love to see this young lady approach a doctor in four years and try to describe her seeping, yeast infection. "My hoo hoo is a little weepy." ;)

Exactly, PossumMomma. Did you hear about the recent debacle concerning a sign over a theater about the Vagina Monologues? Idiot complainers forced the city to change it to "the hoo-ha monologues," until the more intellectually honest citizens got the city to allow it to be changed back.

Personally, I think that any re-naming of human anatomy for the sake of protecting a child's "innocence" is insulting to humanity itself. It's dishonest. It is, in fact, an anti-science and anti-honesty attitude. vagina, vulva, labia, clitoris, forchette, anus, rectum, sphincter, penis, glans, urethra, vas deferan, fallopian tubes, ovaries, testes/testicles, prostate, uterus... these are the terms doctors and scientists use to describe the human body because they are in fact the only terms that to not demean us. They go right along with colon, stomach, organ, galbladder, bladder, spleen, liver, appendix, esophagus, vein, artery, phalanges, carpals, metacarpals, brain, eyes, mouth, nose, tongue, teeth, jaw, bone, etc., etc., etc.

If you want to take a subject seriously, you must call a spade a space, as they say.

Anybody who substitutes sincerity for 'sensitivity' is a fool, lives with fools, and raises fools.

Hippernicus said...

I think it's good to be open and discuss things frankly. (Another new commenter).

In the UK (where I come from) we've got one of highest rates of teenage pregnancy among the wealthier countries in Europe. We could do a lot to learn from Holland where they have reduced rates considerably through *very* honest sex education.

I intend to talk to my own children about sex and such matters as openly as possible, (age-appropriately, of course). I've already had conversations about some of these things with my daughter.

Joe said...

My mom told me as a teen it was OK to look at Playboy and masterbate. Of course I was uncomfortable with THAT conversation, but I had already figured out that I was going to self explore no matter what anyone said.
And, though I don't remember it exactly, she's insistant that she stressed "no babies". Little did she know that my swimmers don't know which way is up anyway and at 46 years old I'm never having offspring.
And, PM, you did a hell of a job with #1. Great poise.

Kazim said...

I've already talked to my son, who is not quite five. I don't want this to sneak up on us as a big, overwhelming topic, so I think it's important to bring it up gradually -- even though it is personally embarrassing to me. We have cartoonish books on anatomy that show all the parts, and babies growing through the nine months, so I have given him an overview of the process.

Kazim said...

However, if I did need to know something, I'm sure they'd be happy to discuss it with me sensibly (albeit with choruses of "Awwww - Da-a-a-a-ad!")

I have to say, by the way, that I just loved Eugene Levy's character as the incredibly embarrassing and inappropriate dad in "American Pie". Even though he was a clueless dork, it was clear that he really loved his son deeply and believed he should be as open and supportive as possible.

Of course, I hope not to BE Eugene Levy when I'm older :) but it's a better place to start, IMHO, than shrouding everything in secrecy.

Doug said...

Well, we have a rabbit and grandma has several. My little girl (age seven) has a pretty good grasp of the birds and the bees. I had to be careful not to laugh too hard when she asked us about the "little tadpoles".

aiabx said...

I'm pretty lucky, it was my wife who explained the facts to my 11 year old daughter. I'm glad she knows because a) it saves me a very embarassing talk b) she will be able to make informed choices when she's older and c) we can watch Blackadder together without having to stop and explain all the jokes. Although I guess I could pretend that kids don't make jokes about body parts and sex anyway.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any children, but I do remember the sex talk with my mom.

At some point, I asked my older sister what "the facts of life" were. I wasn't asking about sex or where babies came from, I was asking what the expression meant. It was a television show at the time and I had picked up on the fact that it had an alternate meaning instead of just being used to describe the show with those crazy kids away at boarding school. She told me that I should ask our mom. So, I did. Mom paused for a moment and said she would get back to me with an answer soon.

She took a few days to gather her thoughts and then had a conversation with me about men and women and all sorts of mystifying things that happened between them that I didn't really understand. I did, however, pick up on the fact that she was a bit uncomfortable and that she would rather not be having that conversation. So, I left the conversation a bit bewildered about why we were discussing whatever the hell we were discussing and went on my merry little way. A few days later, she gave me a book with cartoon drawings explaining the basics of sex. So, when I said, "sex talk" at the beginning of this post, I did mean that it was a singular experience. There was not a series of these talks. That's not fair, there may have been more talks, but that is the only one I remember.

Years later, I finally realized that when she gave me that talk, she was trying to answer my question about "the facts of life." I didn't realize it at the time. I suspect that if either my sister or my mother had said, "Oh, the facts of life refer to the way babies are made," I would have gone merrily on my way.

How did this effect me? Eh, in no particular manner. I was raised Catholic and so I was aware of the pre-marital sex = bad point of view. I wasn't sexually active in high school. I wanted to be sure that when I had sex, I wouldn't regret it. By the time I became sexually active, I knew the basics of birth control. I also knew what "the facts of life" referred to. ;)


Natalie said...

I grew up like several of the other commentors... my mom always said to "talk to her about anything" but it was OBVIOUS the topic was very very uncomfortable for her. She never brought it up either, so the first time I even heard of sex was in fifth grade "sex talk". Now that was embarassing as heck. Everyone else seemed to know what was going on, I sure the heck didn't.

With my kids I want to be as open and honest and frank as I can. I never want to shelter them. I don't think sex is a taboo subject any more than any other bodily function. Plus, since we are dealing with infertility in order to become parents I think the story of "how you were made" is going to be a much more interesting one and involve a lot more than just sex! I've also learned a lot through this journey - things I really wished I knew back when I was 13 and starting cycling - things about how my body works, how the lining grows and sheds, how the cervix changes, what that different discharge means. I mean really, how did NO ONE tell me this stuff??

I even plan to have a chat with my 14 year old cousin. Her mom is worse than my mom at talking about sex. And I think my cousin deserves to know how her body works.

Aerik said...

call a spade a space HAHAHA, oh my, what a great place to make a dumb typo. You know I meant spade both times, right?

I even plan to have a chat with my 14 year old cousin. Her mom is worse than my mom at talking about sex. And I think my cousin deserves to know how her body works.

Good thinking. I don't see my own cousins that much, but since I know that all my aunts and uncles are real prudes and cowards concerning sex, I always take a serious and educational approach whenever one of them says something ignorant or just plain wrong about something concerning sex or human anatomy in general.

AlisonM said...

I have never had "the talk" with either of my girls. It was never necessary, because we were always open with them and answered the questions as they came. In fact, we have had many, many human body and biology discussions over the years, and their understanding of their reproductive systems is on par with their understanding of the nervous, endocrine, muscular, skeletal, and digestive systems. They know the function of their ovaries as well as they know the function of their livers and kidneys. Better yet, they get the jokes, innuendos, and double-entendres of racy humor and STILL know that your own personal sexual behavior is serious business.

There's always someone out there who will either feed the kids misinformation (you can't get pregnant the first time, you can't get AIDS if you pull out, etc. . .) or take advantage of their naivete (baby, you have to do this for me. . .men can DIE from blue balls syndrome! Yes, I was actually told that myself once) and the more they know, the more they're able to protect themselves against this stuff. We're the same way about talking about drugs and alcohol, driving, prejudice, foul language, and any number of verboten topics. Forewarned is forearmed. Nobody's going to pull the wool over my kids' eyes if I can do anything about it.

Maggie Rosethorn said...

Great job handling this, Pmomma. I always answered my kids questions honestly, too. I always figured, if they were asking the question, they were old enough to hear the answer. I would like to recommend, to any parent, "Changing Bodies, Changing Lives" by the same group who wrote "Our Bodies, Ourselves". It is a fantastic book that gives all information in a non-judgemental manner. I had it from my nursing schooling, and left it out for the kids to read anytime they wanted.

It often answered their questions (although, the time my eldest asked, at age 8, at the dinner table, with the inlaws and other older family around, what cunnilingus was, I DID put off answering that question until we could talk privately!)

I feel rewarded in that my children do feel safe in asking me questions about their sex lives, if they have problems or issues. The HPV vaccine has been a current topic of conversation at our house, too. I have left the decision to them. They may choose to get it or they may decline, but they have the knowledge to make that decision.

Milo Johnson said...

"Purity balls."

Eeesh, what an unfortunate appellation...

Tone said...

My mom just gave me a book and told me to read it. She also said if I ever wanted to be on the pill just to give her the paperwork and she would sign it.

Slightly off topic, recently my 14 year old sister in law (samoan dark hair) wanted to start shaving. She was embarassed in high school gym class. My very catholic MIL told her she would have to wait until she was 18. Being the evil heathen I am, I bought her some razors, a can of shaving cream, showed her how and told her "sometimes it's better to ask forgiveness than permission."

His mom is smarter than to say anything to me.

Theo Bromine said...

On the one hand, I can't fathom the idea of banning *shaving* for one's daughter until 18 - good grief, if it's gym class where she's uncomfortable, she's obviously wanting to shave so she won't be teased by *girls*, not to attract guys. [I have to wonder if the same response would be given to sons at 14 - both of mine started to shave (not just wanting to, actually needing to) at 13, though one gave it up at 14 to become bearded instead.]

On the other hand, I personally would love to see more challenges to stereotypes of beauty (ie why is it a problem for women to have body hair - not to say that there is necessarily anything wrong with shaving or depilation, just that people should ask the question and consciously make their own decisions). I am especially disturbed by the "sexualization" of younger and younger children (usually girls). It is astonishing to see 4-8 year old girls wearing what can only be described as "provocative" styles of clothing - eg a "bikini" bathing suit with a bra-style top for a 5yo - why not just take off her shirt?.

I see honest and open discussion of sex with kids to be absolutely in opposition to sexualization - kids need to understand the facts about sex at a very young age, but are neither cognitively nor emotionally ready for the attendant issues. When my kids were young, we matter of factly answered their questions, and provided some supplementary information, so, like some other posters, "the talk" was not really necessary, though we did chat from time to time to make sure that the information they had was correct, and sufficiently in advance of the next stage they were likely to hit.

One final comment re talking to adolescents about sex - a book we found useful is "The What's Happening to my Body Book for Boys" (there is a corresponding one for girls). Also, sitting in a car while driving can be a good venue communicate with teens (about sex or any other touchy issue) - there is enough background noise to mask uncomfortable silences, and no one feels obligated to look at the other person while speaking.

keelyellenmarie said...

Ugh. Until sixth grade all of my sexual knowledge came from books, tv, and rumors from friends. In sixth grade we didn't have health class, but we covered the reproductive system and watched "changing bodies" movies in biology. They never told us a thing about birth control or exactly what went on during sex.

Our parents were notified about what we were learning, and one night my parents sat me down and very awkwardly told me that if I ever had any questions about "the stuff they're talking about in science class" that I should feel free to ask them because it was "perfectly natural."

My father has never mentioned the subject to me again, and every conversation I've ever had about sex with my mother has been unbearably awkward. I got most of my education on the morals of sex from a horribly strict catholic church youth group.

My mother once told me that, though we are catholic, what I do with my body is between me and god and that if I ever wanted to have sex, I should tell her so she could get me birth control. Apparently she didn't mean that, because when I told her I was planning on having sex (at 18) she got very angry at me. She continues to pretend that I am still a virgin and has told me several times that my father can "never know."

Between my scandalous behavior and my atheism (I haven't attended church once since I arrived at college), my relationship with my parents is completely founded on lies. They love a person who doesn't exist.

My children will have better than that.

Anonymous said...


Check out "God Tube"

floridamom said...

Another long time lurker here. Love this blog.

My son is only 9, so we're not there yet. I'm not quite sure how we'll handle the questions when they finally come, but I know what we won't do: we won't act shocked (even though he'll probably catch one of us off guard), and we won't act as though sex is something terrible and dirty.

I have to say I chuckled at the recent news that abstinence programs don't work. Big surprise there.

Theo Bromine said...

My son is only 9, so we're not there yet.

floridamom - some free advice (worth what you paid for it):

To me, 9 seems old for never having come up with questions on sex (assuming you mean 9 years, not 9 months), so you might consider raising the subject in a casual way, just so you can determine what he knows and gauge the level of accuracy.

Sean the Blogonaut said...


I participated in sex ed class delivered by the principal ( a Marist Brother).

We also had a Nun and Brother come and speak to us about the rhythm method of contraception and advise us that masturbation was self abuse (all this in the mid to late eighties). Needless to say their advice went out the window.

I prefer to learn form the experienced and not learned.

On a side note the principal's replacement turned out to be a paedofile a couple of years after I had left the school.

Parents don't generally talk to their kids about it because of their own sexual hangups, reinforced by religious conditioning.

Aerik said...

I'm with Theo. 9 years old is a good time to start sex education. Remember that I said my school did sex ed starting in 4th grade, which meant we were all 8 or 9 years old.

I participated in sex ed class delivered by the principal ( a Marist Brother).

I see they stick to the patriarchy whenever possible. My sesx ed was from the gym teacher, the school nurse, and even a bit from the science teacher. Then for some dumb reason they split up the boys and girls to discuss some more specific things (deoderant, crap like that) and one more teacher was added for supervision but I forget who. I do know my 6th grade teacher Mrs. Bloemburg was in charge of teaching real specifics to the girls; on sex-ed days, she'd be seen carrying around two cardboard diagram notebooks full of depictions of the uterus, vagina, and illustrations of how hormones work.

Good times.

aimee said...

I remember my sex ed classes, the ones from elementary school, the boys in one room and the girls in another so we could learn about periods and what not and they could learn about erections. In high school though, we had a teacher that showed us how to put a condom on a cucumber and was very open and honest about things. She told us all kinds of myths you hear about too, like the pulling out, or standing on your head and pour mt. dew into the vagina will kill the sperm, and countless others.

Our 10 yr old and 8 yr old sons have been very curious (I think my 8 yr old is already a boob man!!). We have answered some questions but know that we will have to really talk more sooner than later so that they don't get their info from the playground. I had no dialogue with my parents on sex, I think they just told me not to have it, I really don't remember. And I grew up atheist.

side note* my ob/gyn thinks parents that don't believe in the hpv vaccine because it
will "promote sex" thinks they are full of shit.

aimee said...

I also heard on a recent Oprah that when discussing the hpv vaccine, don't think of it as a way of preventing a possible std, think of it as preventing cancer. I thought that was a good way to put it.

Mark said...

In general, I've found that the parents who think that doing this kind of thing is endorsing it are the same parents who mistake intimidation for parenting.

Aerik said...

and pour mt. dew into the vagina will kill the sperm,

I remember the Mt. Dew thing, but the way the rumor hit my area was that any soda with Yellow Dy #5 would kill your sperm and render you infertile when you drink it.

aimee said...

I forgot to mention that when my youngest son was about 6, he thought that sex was kissing naked all night, lol!!!

Anonymous said...

So i was also raised Catholic, now agnostic and heavily slighted towards atheism. And my parents quite literally never had a sex talk with me. I'm 19, still a virgin (not by choice), and have had 1 girlfriend in my life. I'm a cool guy, have lots of friends and am pretty stable minded, though i often get serious bouts of depression that stem from this issue. But because i still have these ingrained attitudes in my mind that i should be ashamed about feelings/sex and whatnot, it has made my college life quite awkward. People constantly talk about it yadda yadda and though i concsiously am not against sex at all, subconsciously i'm scared and nervous when it comes to both girls and sex. So yeah, the whole religion/sex thing is fucked up and if you're not honest with your kids and make them realize both consciously and subconsciously that it is an okay thing, they'll just be fucked (figuratively, haha) like me.

Lorenzo said...

The idea of giving your kids books instead of asnwering their questions directly is nto all that bad. Some people may want to answer all their kids questions, but may be unable to overcome the embarrassment they fell, and their children may be put off by the embarrassment they cause.

That happened to my father, who simply felt ashamed by the idea of talking about sex to a child, so my parents got me a couple of books written for children that explained all these things, and that helped.

It is certainly much better than letting your children learn from older kids at school who pretend they know but know nothing, which is inevitably what will end up happening.

n3rdchik said...

Awesome P-Momma! My kids are 3 and 5 and we have already had very frank biological discussions. (They wanted to know why they had Papa-colored hair, when Mama pushed them out.)
My mom was pretty open about the biology of sex, but null on the politics/emotional side of it. I am hoping that we are going to have an ongoing conversation about all aspects of sex.
My favorite horror story about sex ed is my 11 year old brother was discussing a movie with friends and one of his buddies goes on to say that sex was the "grossest thing in the world". My brother pointed out that it can't have been too gross, since the friend had siblings. This 11 year old boy insisted that his parents NEVER had sex. Distraught, he asked my mom who confirmed that sex leads to reproduction. As a concerned friend, my mom called the friend's mom - and YES, she did tell her sons that she and her husband had NEVER "done it."

aimee said...

Along with the sex talks, we plan on making sure our boys know how to respect women and of course respect themselves. When the time is right, make sure they know the laws of being with someone of a different age and so on. It goes so much more beyond just knowing the parts and what they do.

Nerdy Atheist said...

I don't have kids yet but this is why I love your blog so much. Such great parenting advice!

Gillian said...

I feel pretty much the same way. Though I wont need to have those talks anytime soon. I don't want her scared to come to me the way I could not go too my mom.

Aerik said...

Some people may want to answer all their kids questions, but may be unable to overcome the embarrassment they fell


lynn's daughter said...

i remember the day my son (age 11) came to me and asked me what "masturbation" meant. Choke. um. stall for time. At the time,a single mom, I finally told him. He thought I was making it all up.

Amy N. said...

Of course I think you handled that brilliantly :)
The only thing I would have done differently is told that Christian friend "Um, hello...have you had sex in the last 2.6 million years? It doesn't NEED my endorsement!"

Zoe said...

This is such a great topic! My kids are 15 (M) and 17(F). We have always been able to discuss sex, as well as other 'controversial' issues (read: drugs, alcohol, violence, etc). Although I'm not sure I'm quite at the athiest self-definition, I'm definitely not a christian.

My kids have gotten accurate information from me and from their father. We have discussed issues like homosexuality, double-standards, nocturnal emissions, masturbation, you name it. I am so pleased that my kids can talk to me, while in the same room with each other(!... being opposite sex and all) I can't even tell you. However, let me also say that honest and open communication, along with total encouragement for using birth control and using it correctly does not always protect one from unexpected happenings. Did I mention that my 17 year old lovely daughter is also a mother to a lovely almost 1 year old boy? yeah. Pill bad, condom broken, me gramma.

Thanks in large part to our ability to converse openly about everything under the sun, she can come to me with questions or concerns about whether or not she is doing this or that 'right' where her son is concerned. She is a good Mommy. She reads to him, he is never short of cuddles and 'I love you!'s', taught, encouraged, and handled with patience that many would expect to be well beyond the ability of one her age.

That said, my son has certainly learned a thing or two about keeping it in his pants, so to speak. He has shared some really scary stories with me about friends of his whose parents still tell the old myths about masturbation. It was my boy who enlightened his buddy (age 15) that masturbation did not make one stutter, as buddy's mom had informed him. This allowed me to tease my own boy: "So that's why you seem to be stuttering alot lately!" Thanks to our open relationship, he laughed his ass off, and replied, "Yup, you got it, Mom!" Love that kid...

Keep up the open communication. Thinking for oneself, knowing possible consequences, knowing how to protect oneself from disease... these are incalculable in their importance.

Also, on the topic of the immunizations.... I teach college courses in sociology, and more than one of the young women I have taught have shared horror stories of passing out, and staying out for over an hour after the first of the three shots! This seems to be an acceptable reaction. Not diggin' it at all! Definitely don't think I'd have my middle-school age daughter immunized. This stuff scares the pants off of me.

Zoe said...

(Lynn's daughter)

Your story of your son is so funny! It reminds me of when my youngest sister (she was 8, so I was 25) asked my mom how her dad got to be her dad. None of our dads were ever around, my mom never had boyfriends, so she was definitely curious about this. Now, my mom is very uncomfortable with sex, even though she holds no religious beliefs that would preclude talking about it. Just not her cup of tea. In fact, she was the mother of 5, grandmother of 2 before I drew her a diagram of her own anatomy after a comment about 'did cats have the same 2 holes humans did?' She still thought, at 48, that babies came out where we pee. Took some convincing, let me tell you....

eeeeenyway, back to story...

My mom decides to draw my sister a diagram. I am sure that this is not what she was requesting or required. But that's what Mom did. So after explaining the diagram, my sister gives her a withering look (a lifelong specialty of this sister's), and says, hand on hip, "Right. Like I'm gonna believe that. I'll ask later when you can handle telling me the truth." Flounced out of house.

Man, kids are great....