January 24, 2008

Had "The Talk"

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!


- 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.


KingM said...

How did he react? Did he blush furiously at the "slippery as a greased pig" comment?

(chandelle) said...

wow. very succinct, straight-forward and well-organized. i may print this out for future reference.

Nayana Anthony said...

It's so perfect. I wish someone would have told me that stuff at the appropriate age. Hurts a lot more figuring it out for yourself.

PMP said...

Truly awesome. I too will print this out for future use. Thanks!

lostinutah said...

I'm with Chandelle, though my 15 year old and I have had most of this talk. I'm the one blushing furiously but what do you do?

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Wow! I wish this was the talk my parents and I had had when I was your son's age. And I wish it was the format for teaching about sexuality in church.

Oh, wait. Right. I forgot. There is nothing to discuss. It's all bad. Until it isn't...

An Enlightened Fairy said...

You kick ass. I am keepin this list for when we have the talk with my kids. J is lucky to have a Mom like you.

Beat Dad said...

I would like to add; have him learn Tango, it is just like and sometimes better than sex. Then tell him that sex is just like dancing. If he takes the classes he will know what you are talking about.

Many of the points you discussed are the same that have been in the conversations that I have been having with my son.

I have my fingers crossed.

Cele said...

Most excellent guideline for "The Talk." Your openess and honesty with him will go farther to influence him than most people are ever willing to accept.

hm-uk said...

This is the discussion that every parent should have with their child. Honest, easy to understand and compassionate.

I'd like to know if I can copy it to put on my blog, at some stage. I'm not a parent but I know that it's just good information to have out there.

Regina Filangi said...

I love this! I am a ways from this type of talk but this is the way I want to do it when the time comes.

Sister Mary Lisa said...

KingM ~ He didn't blush furiously. He took it in stride. He admitted he feared we'd approach the whole thing (which we warned him about so he'd be mentally prepared it was coming) with cheesiness and dumb phrases like calling gonads "pooh bears" (wtf?? I had to ask HIM what that meant, too funny!) and it went way better than I expected.

Chandelle ~ Feel free to use this in future. It mostly came from Anti-Molly, bless her. I was sure glad she had shared her thoughts which were so good.

Nayana ~ I agree. But there can also be fun in the figuring it out, no? Heh heh.

pmp ~ You're welcome.

lostinutah ~ It can be hard to not blush when articulating things like sexuality and sex. I just plodded forward and tried to hold a straight face. I think I did well. My first instinct is to joke and laugh but this was serious to him so I behaved accordingly.

Tewkesy ~ you make me laugh. It is kind of strange to have sex be totally sinful and wrong one day and something to be avoided at all costs, then the next day it's all OK to do.

EF ~ Thanks, babe.

Beat Dad ~ sounds like you have some fun on the dance floor. Dang!

Cele ~ Thanks! You're sweet.

HM-UK ~ sure, go for it. I agree, which is why I posted it here too.

RF ~ it was way easier for us to do it with a list. Whew! Good luck when your turn comes!

Clark Kent said...


Even in a dream?

Sister Mary Lisa said...

Clark ~

Oh HELL no! Dreams are meant to be enjoyed to the fullest. Don't you think?

Anonymous said...

Our oldest has a few years yet before being a teenager, but I worry about waiting too long to have the talk. How'd you know it was the right time?


Sister Mary Lisa said...

Well, Jennifer, I guess it was our son saying, "I need The Talk. I AM in high school now, you know."

;) Once we saw a documentary that placed the AVERAGE age kids lose their virginity as 13. So I'd say this talk shoulda happened probably when he was 11 or so.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Going in my parenting keepers folder.

Anonymous said...

Meant to add the following:
My mom was a nurse and she gave me some rather technical books to read when I was in either 5th or 6th grade. Never really talked about it with me, just told me to read the books and I could ask questions if I needed to.

But at least it was better than what DH and his siblings got in the way of "the talk". His parents told him and his brother to "stay away from girls." His sisters were told to "stay away from boys." That was it, no kidding. DH said any actual info he got, he had to get from friends or the internet.