When By “Daisy Chain” They Don’t Mean the Beading Pattern
I brought my bio daughter and bonus daughter to the gynecologist a couple of years ago. Both got annual exams and both were discussing birth control options with the doc. So the doc got to hear my speech with both of them about pregnancy prevention versus disease prevention, and the importance of continuing to use a barrier method (condom or sex dam, as appropriate) even with the methods of birth control they had chosen. Discussed where to get condoms and sex dams and offered to procure and provide these items as requested. Both girls were all whatevs because they have heard all of this about 97 times.
However, the gynecologist was fascinated. She told me I was awesome and asked me to have the same talk with her kids for her.
Asked me to discuss sex with her kids for her.
Vaginas are, arguably, her job. Discussing them with her kids had her all freaked out.
Now, I know that the idea of talking to your kids about sex may make you throw up a little bit in your mouth. But seriously? Do it anyway. If you want to bring them to my office, I’d be happy to help facilitate the discussion. But please don’t drop them and head to the Starbucks around the corner and hide for an hour. It is not nearly as big a whoop as you think it is going to be. And honestly? The best thing you can do to keep your kids from having sex? Take all the fun and mystery out of it by talking about it.
- Answer what they actually ask you. Kids, especially younger kids, are going to have specific, concrete questions. They want a specific, concrete answer. Don’t embellish. Don’t load them with extra information. Consider their developmental age and previous life experiences when answering. Chances are you will explicate where babies come from and they will say “Ok, can we go get ice cream now?” and the conversation will be all over.
- Assign a pinch hitter, as need be. My last kid at home is my 15 year old son. I am a widow, and we have navigated the entirety of puberty thus far without his dad. Some things we have done on our own (I taught him how to shave, which is a story he still finds hilarious) and some things were covered by the men in his life who have the same operating equipment. Offer your kids the option of talking to someone other than you. But you choose the options. Back of the school bus doesn’t count. And, really, they do need to talk.
- Consider what is silly and superfluous. They do need to talk, but some information out there is just silliness. If I think it’s an important question to answer, I just answer the question. If I think it’s crap, I respond with “Ok, I can tell you if you really want to know, but you can’t ever unknow it once I tell you.” My son deeply regrets insisting on knowing about the following: Dirty Sanchezes, Sandy Pelicans, The Shocker, and bukkake. Now when if I ask him if he really wants to know, his usual answer is “Meh, nevermind, I’m good.” I have adult friends who get the same warning label when they ask me stuff, too. And I usually get the same response.
- Consider the metamessage. What values do you want to instill here? My son’s recent question about BDSM led to a great conversation about abuse and the notion of consent in all interactions. My daughter’s recent question about the difference between porn and erotica led to a great discussion about the importance of relationships within the framework of sexual intimacy. Sometimes you are not just giving technical information, but instilling how they go out and navigate the world and interact with others. A week after the consent convo? My son ended up protecting a girl at his school who was being pushed around by her boyfriend. If I had shied away from the opening topic, BDSM, that situation could have ended way differently. And I’m proud of what he did there. Real life merit badge time if there ever was one.
Our kids as sexual beings? I KNOW, RIGHT???? Ew, ew, ew … gross, gross, gross. We’ve SEEN how dirty their bedrooms are … who would want to see that child NAKED?
If you are reading Out In SA, you are clearly a cool and hip parent already. And I KNOW I’m totally pushing it by suggesting you to explain bukkake to your teenager. But I would so rather my kids come to me than go to Urban Dictionary. Think about all the dumb stuff you heard from your peers when you were growing up. Take a deep breath, and start talking. Y’all can always take bets on who gets grossed out first.