Sex education for parents
How to be supportive and accessible
Before we start to dismantle explosives like porn and sexting, we can start with giving our kids fundamental support and be accessible.
2 short examples of parenting: 1 brilliant and 1 horrible. I'll start with the wrong one:
I was suggesting to high school seniors, that every time we're considering to go ahead or not, we should ask ourselves questions such as:
Does this person make me feel comfortable?
Am I acting naturally or do I feel like I need to play a role that this person expects from me?
Do we genuinely laugh together?
In the break between classes, one of the girls came to me, and said:
"You know, I have a boyfriend 6 months now, and my parents never spoke to me about any of the stuff you mentioned. They have no interest whether he makes feel good about myself or laughs from my jokes or curious to know what I think, like you said we should be alert to notice… all they care about is my curfew. MY PARENTS THINK I CAN ONLY HAVE SEX AT NIGHT, so all they ever say is 'be home by12' or 'don't stay over at his place'. Like, sleeping together is about being together, you know, what we do sexually happens before sleeping!!"
We both smiled. She continued to share having sex with her boyfriend almost 5 out of the 6 months they have been together. Her parents choose to not know any of this.
From the other side of the spectrum, a father came to me after a lecture all worried he made a mistake with his daughter. Spoiler! He made no mistakes; he did great with his daughter. She was 14 and mentioned something about dating or a possible first boyfriend. He told her:
"You are now becoming a young woman. (This part was him talking to himself out loud. she knew very well what she is going thruJ). If you have a boyfriend or someone you go out with – bring him home! Don't be hanging out in playgrounds, or stay only in his room or his car when you want to be alone – because all those places are not your castle! And if anything might come across you won't be comfortable with, when you're at home you can always step out of the room and have your family down stairs, and even when you are home alone with him, you are more easily in charge on things when it's your kingdom (he should have said 'queendom', but one step at a time). And if – ha added, knowing public transportation barely exists in their rural area – they have no way to get home, never mind, let them sleep over, but anyone who sleeps in this house has to sit down and have breakfast with us. He will see us and we will get to know him over a cereal bowl."
I told him it sounded fabulous, and asked what made him feel insecure or think he did wrong?
He answered that she didn't share anything private with him, seemed a bit shocked, and her reaction to his words was to say: "daddy!!! I'm so not talking to you about that! We are so not having this conversation." and soon after, her door was closed.
Walking away from us or refusing to share is the presumable reaction to a first ever talk about sex we set in motion.
I wanted to kiss him on the head, that 50 years old farmer. I told him he said all he needed to say. The sub-text of what he told her was:
- Letting her know he is alert and sensitive to whatever goes on in her life!
- Letting her know it is okay for her to be in love, to discover her sexuality, to enjoy her body and passion.
- Letting her know he has her back and that she has a safe place at home.
Our children are going to become sexually active one way or another. It better be at home than outside. It better be known and supported than a dirty shameful secret they keep from us.
"You have to keep saying to her stuff like that from time to time. She can keep resisting sharing, but when the time will come – I assured him – when it really matters, she will come home to you and your wife. All the things she heard you say are scorched it the back of her mind. They will bring her to safety."
ALL PICTURES SHOWN ARE FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSE ONLY