I don’t think there is any more difficult conversation you can have with your tween than the (dum, dum, dum) SEX TALK. Honestly, we’ve spent our whole life as parents keeping it behind closed doors so that the kids don’t see. We’ve taught them the appropriate way to keep their willy in their pants, that “play time” is set aside for “private time”, not when they are sitting in the kindergarten circle discussing the colors of the rainbow. We prepare them for the changes their bodies are going to go through, and buy them a stick of deodorant in hopes of toning down that musky underarm stench (which, sorry, but there comes a time when NOTHING helps). We discuss where babies come from, and describe how they are made using technical terms. But eventually, it comes down to the fact that we need to discuss the big one – doing the deed, the horizontal tango, playing monopoly, the whole shebang….
We need to talk about actual sex.
We’re not talking the kind of sex that other people are doing. We’re not talking about what their parents are doing. We’re not even talking about backtracking to how babies are made (though that is a BIG part of the discussion) using cute diagrams and musing over the miracle of life. We’re talking about what they will be doing with their own bodies one day. Or, even though we don’t want to believe it to be true, what they may already be doing. And we need to talk about the reality of sex – the good parts as well as the bad.
I had this discussion with both of my kids a little while ago in the car. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been keeping the discussion about sex an open topic since they were little, keeping it age appropriate. But as of late, I’ve been stepping up the discussion. My daughter is just about to enter Jr. High. And at her age, kids are already starting to share relationships with the opposite sex. This next year she will be introduced to all sorts of new topics. And when it comes to the big ones, I’d prefer that she get her information at home first. At any rate, I started out the conversation by asking her about her recent Sex Ed class she had attended at school. I asked about the topics that they had covered, and she said that they had discussed a bit about the changes that are occurring in girls, but had mostly covered what goes on with boys. The boys had watched a video that discussed girls’ changes.
“So they didn’t cover sex yet?” I asked her.
“No, I think we talk about that next year,” she said.
“Ha ha! DQ’s having sex!” the Taz piped up in the back seat. He giggled while his sister looked ultra annoyed.
“You don’t even know what it is,” DQ fired back.
“Yes I do,” the Taz said smugly.
“Alright Taz, what is it?” I asked him. And he started making kissing sounds and wrapping his arms around himself. “What is that?” I asked him. “Kissing? Is that what sex is?”
“Yup,” he said.
“Wrong!” DQ said.
“What is it then?” the Taz asked, suddenly really interested in the conversation.
“Are you sure you want to know?” I asked him. He nodded.
“You don’t know what you’re asking for,” DQ giggled.
“Tell me,” the Taz begged.
“Ok. It’s when a man and a woman come together, and the man puts his penis–”
“Nooooo!” the Taz cried, falling over in the backseat acting thoroughly disgusted.
“Do you want me to continue?” I asked.
“Yeah, keep going,” he grimaced.
“The man puts his penis” (groan!) “in the woman’s vagina.”
“Auuuugggghhh!” the Taz cried. By this point, DQ was giggling uncontrollably.
“People have to have sex to make babies,” she told the Taz.
“But how does that make a baby?” he asked.
“Well,” I started.
“No! No more!” the Taz said, laughing.
“No. Keep going.”
“When the man’s penis is in the woman’s vagina” (augh!) “he has what’s called an orgasm. Stuff comes out of his penis called ejaculate. And in that ejaculate is something called sperm. The sperm travels to the egg inside of the woman, fertilizes the egg, and then a baby begins to grow inside of the woman.”
“Do you have sex?” the Taz asked me.
Ok, pause. If I were married to the kids’ father, this would be an easy question to answer. Yes. Of course I am having sex. No, we’re not trying to have babies anymore, but sex is an incredibly enjoyable act that two people share when they are in love.
But I’m not married.
I understand that there is a virtue for saving yourself for marriage. I actually have several friends who have done this. And, especially in this day and age, I applaud the gift they are about to give their husband on their wedding night. But I have already experienced sex. And let’s be frank. I like it. I’ve experienced casual sex, and I’ve experienced relationship sex. And in my single life, I’ve come to the conclusion that sex with someone you love and who loves you back is a million times better than those of a one night stand. And I have also realized that casual sex is never really casual, that intercourse leaves a bit of your soul with that person so it hurts that much more when expectations don’t work out the way we had planned. So I get why saving yourself for marriage is actually an excellent choice. But I don’t exactly want to live my single life without it, or feel like I am in a rush to get married just to have sex again. Being that Mr. W and I don’t plan on getting married anytime soon, I would probably wither up and die in certain areas of my body…
And, wait a second… Isn’t the sex talk supposed to only be uncomfortable for the kids? I really wasn’t prepared for the tables to be turned. But what choice did I have? I needed to answer them. And so I did.
“Yes,” I squeaked.
Both of the kids nearly suffered from whiplash as they turned to face me.
“YOU DO?!?” they cried. Both of them took turns telling me exactly how they felt about that – how they thought it was so healthy for me and Mr. W to express our love in such a caring and mutual way, how they were glad that we were comfortable enough in our bodies to be able to share them with each other. But it sounded more like this:
“Ew! Gross! You’ve seen Mr. W naked? He’s seen you naked??? How many times have you done it?”
And through this revelation that they really had no idea that their mom was “doing it”, I realized another thing. I had just been the one to break through my kids’ innocence and give them more knowledge than they even had an inkling about. As far as they were concerned Mr. W and I slept in flannel jammies when I went over there, our bodies covered from the top of the neck all the way down to our feet. We hadn’t even seen each other pee (something else my kids were horrified about upon discovery). Basically, I had just revealed to my kids that it is possible to have sex outside of marriage.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have never pretended that I would tell my kids that waiting till marriage is their only option. Just like I am not reserving sex for only marriage for myself, I couldn’t possibly hold my children to that regard. But I quickly explained to them that while sex is intended as an act inside of marriage, it is possible to have it when unmarried. That’s when I took the opportunity to explain the heartache that occurs with sex, how you have to be so careful to not have sex with a person that isn’t going to handle you gently, body and heart. And I also explained that sex does feel good, but it feels better when it’s with someone you love. And, along with that, I touched on how there are also dangers that come with sex – briefly touching on unplanned pregnancy and the kinds of STDs that are possible, and how there are some people who will force sex on another person.
Even though I shattered the remaining fragments of my children’s innocence, it was actually a really good conversation. And I’m happy to say that it has opened up more discussions since, ones that are less traumatic since we got the hard stuff out of the way.
CLICK HERE for tips on how to initiate a discussion about sex with your tween or teen, and things you should be thinking about before the conversation even starts.
Anyone else having “the talk” with their kids? When did you start? And how did you initially introduce the topic?