Saturday, December 21, 2013

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!

We weren't talking about sex, we were actually in a dungeon.

So after my Sweary Words post, there's been another parenting topic on my mind. This one is by far much more important to me.

How do you (and by you, I mean parents of teenagers) deal with sex?

First I think I need to go over my background to give the context in which I was raised.

I was raised in a Christian home where sex before marriage was a no-no. And believe it or not, I followed that rule. Though there were some close calls (some were very close), I did not have sex until my wedding night. I was a real life actual virgin bride. I don't think my hubby will mind me admitting for him that he was too. (I mean, not the bride part.)

Aren't we sweet?

I got married when I was 22, so I was a young'un, a kid practically. Scott was only 20. At the time, I thought it was pretty normal to stay abstinent until marriage. But then again, most of my friends were either church friends or drama nerds, so take from that what you will. Also I was one of the first of my friends to get married, and now that I'm older (and know a lot more people) I realize it is SO WEIRD to not have sex before marriage. I mean, I knew it was weird then, but I didn't realize just how weird.

Besides, having only waited 22 years, with the first 12 not counting because boys were ew, I really had no concept of what it would be like to remain abstinent for a really long time. Like until 30. (Thirty year olds were old people!)

A lady probably in her 30s.

(Photo credit.)

My children are growing up in an even more liberal age than my parents did or I did, and it's going to be even more unusual or rare for them to wait until marriage. As much as I like the idea of my kids waiting, I also feel it would be incredibly irresponsible of me as a parent to assume they will and to avoid discussing the other options. Birth control (and with that, my aversion to the Pill), pregnancy, the right person, all these things need to be discussed, but in what context?

Here's my humble thinking now, as a mother of still pretty young children. I think I will encourage my kids to wait... at least wait until they are older. Like not a teenager. Or roughly then. I'd like to encourage them to wait until they are married, but I think it's more realistic to just encourage waiting in general. Wait until they are older. I don't want my sweet daughters being pressured into sex at the tender young age of, say, 13, when they do not know themselves at all and are not loved by the boy, and I don't want them labelled sluts when they are 16, for sleeping with random guys who again do not love them. I don't want my son using innocent girls for his own fun and experiementation at 13, and I don't want his crazed teenaged body making all the decisions for him at 16. But I also don't want to lay the law down so hard and so blindly that they do not own or know how to use a condom, and should they find themselves in that 'moment' not have anything with which to protect themselves. If you've ever been a teenager in the 'moment' you know that the lack of a condom - without having had the risks drilled into your head with an electric screwdriver (there's a pun in there somewhere) - is a very minor deterrent.

I know what the churched of you will say - They must wait! You must set that example! Sex is only right within the confines of a marriage. It's about sin, not about society.

Well, okay. I get that. I also get that I'm not sure I believe that any more, and in looking to the future, I need to maybe have a Plan B on how to raise my own kids in a realistic, pragmatic way that keeps them safe physically and emotionally.

(And I'll refrain from asking everyone with that immediate gut response of "It's Sin!" if THEY were able to wait until marriage, because it's totally not my business... but I might let the question hang in the air for a moment.)

It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I don't want to condone sex for an immature, impressionable and still emotionally and physically developing youngster, but on the other hand, I don't want to put my head in the sand and pretend it never happens, or it won't happen with my own child. I also don't want to pour on the guilt that will get carried into a good marriage and possibly spoil it, as happens with so many Christian kids I know. I want my kids to grow up respecting themselves, respecting their boy/girlfriends, having the confidence and self-assurance to say no when they aren't ready to say yes, and to know their own hearts and bodies.

That's not asking too much, is it?

So I ask you, parents of modern teenagers, how do you deal with the subject?


  1. By baggage, I mean, the one who gets labelled, shamed, scorned, etc.

    1. Hi Lori - Great writing and well-said. You're right that men get the "write-offs." My buddies would cheer me on for some of my indiscretions. But I carry the baggage on myself, growing up in a culture like yours (sometimes the exact same one), and failing to live up to the demands. I failed to be careful, to understand how it all worked, to guard my heart properly, to live life by decision rather than by guilt, etc... As males, we don't get labelled as much, but we also can't say "sensitive" stuff to each other - we can't say "Man, I wish I hadn't done that. My heart is broken... or even 'I don't know what to do.'" As a man who hopes to get the chance to be a father someday, I guess I want my boys to know it's actually good to have emotions tied to your body and your physical relationships. I will encourage them to wait until they are in a relationship that they are 100% committed to (which will probably be more like 50%), and in so doing, I hope they give their bodies only to those who will appreciate them, protect them, be wise with them, and love them. I would say the same to my daughters, should I have some.

    2. Thanks for your reply, Joel. It's interesting to hear from the man's point of view. You're right too. I imagine men carry their baggage in a way women don't have to.

      I especially like that 100% - more like 50% - part. So true! Haha!

    3. Original comment deleted because it couldn't be edited. The original comment was:

      I truly believe that the fear and scare tactics that we place around young women's sexuality entraps them into believing that men always get to tell them what to do with their bodies. I hope to just be honest with my daughters about sex and the reasons why it's best to wait.

      And my original reply:

      Yes, that's another point. It's always the woman with the baggage. Men seem to get all kinds of write-offs.

      Now the rest of the comments should make some sense.....


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