Last night we talked with our teen son about sex and sexuality, and it went very well, I think. I thought I'd share the list of things we outlined, printed out, and discussed with him, most of which I got from a FLAK comment made by the fabulous Anti-Molly. Thanks to her for sharing her insight which helped us immensely!
THOUGHTS ON SEXUALITY
- Remember that "normal" is as slippery as a greased pig. There's a whole lot of variation in people, male and female. And a whole lot of overlap between genders, too.
- Masturbation is normal. Girls do it, too. It's not a bad thing. It's just something to be done while you're alone and in an appropriate place.
- Sex is not dirty. It's something for adults, just like being in the military and drinking alcohol and voting and having a career.
- For many reasons (listed here), it's best to wait to have sex until you're emotionally and physically capable of handling its effects:
1. Health and safety reasons
2. Enjoy your youth and don't rush into adulthood too fast
3. Possibility of hurting your partner or being hurt by them
4. We want you to be wary of peer pressure and consider whether you are wanting to engage in sexual activity earlier than you feel ready to due to peer pressure that you would otherwise wait to do.
Some effects of having sex are:
1. Partner gaining strong feelings that you may not have in return
2. You could fall in love with your partner who may not feel the same toward you
3. Getting someone pregnant - or the worry and anxiety that happens if she is "late" having her period
4. STDs & fear of getting or spreading them
5. Emotional ramifications of being a father as a teen
6. Possible stigma of being a father as a teen
7. If your partner does get pregnant, and doesn't want the baby ~ Abortion? Adoption? Raise it as a single father?
8. Having the responsibility for another person's life and welfare (baby) can alter your entire life plan/goals
9. Will you be able to afford the (lifelong) expense of having to care for a child?
10. Some STDs have permanent, lifelong effects that can alter your quality of life
- When you decide to have sex, you need to protect yourself.
CONDOMS AT ALL TIMES. ALWAYS. EVERY TIME. It is only safe to have unprotected sex once you've been in a long-term relationship where both partners have been medically tested for AIDS and STDs and both of you have no other partners.
- You can ask me anything about sex and we will give you an honest answer. If you don't feel comfortable talking to us, we can find you a good book or you an talk to a trusted family member. Who would you trust?
- Sexuality is hard to define. So is the word "normal." Some people are heterosexual. Some are homosexual. Some are bisexual. Some people like to have sex a lot. Some don't like to have it much, if ever.
- All this doesn't mean that there's no ethics -- no right and wrong -- associated with sex and sexuality. There are limits, just like there are limits to everything. For example, obsession with anything, even something that feels good, is ultimately harmful. Or if you're hurting or taking advantage of someone physically or emotionally, that's wrong too.
- Looking and touching are different. Men and women both notice and appreciate nice specimens of their preferred sex, but it doesn't mean they love their significant other any less, nor does it mean they intend to be unfaithful. But a considerate partner will consider your feelings when deciding whether to talk about their observations or make them obvious to you or others.
- Bodies vary widely. Some parts are bigger, smaller, hairy-er, more or less sensitive, shaped differently, and colored differently on different people. What you see on TV is a skewed stereotype that only represents a few people. You can and should find beauty in your body and in the bodies of others, including the person you love. Be sensitive when commenting about other people's bodies, whether you like them or not.
- Respect your partner always. Listen to them when they tell you they are not comfortable doing something, and don't do it or pressure your partner to do something they are not comfortable doing. If they want you to try something that you do not want to do, you should say no and that should be OK. Remember that NO MEANS NO. You do NOT do anything if you hear your partner say no.
Respecting your partner also means that you do not kiss and tell. Ever. What you share with a sexual partner should only be between you and that person. Even if your partner discusses you with others does not make it OK for you to discuss the details of your private moments with your friends or anyone. You gain nothing from doing this and it brings down the reputation of your partner. Remember you marry who you date, so you don't want your friends knowing for life what your partner did with you in private. And nobody needs the mental image of you having sex. You do not want to be someone who plays a part in ruining another person's reputation either.
- Use of alcohol or other drugs can lower your inhibitions and ability to make smart decisions for yourself. Sometimes being under the influence of drugs/alcohol can make you feel it's OK to engage in sexual activity which you would never otherwise do while sober. Be very careful because actions have very real consequences.