11-08-2013 06:26 AM - edited 11-10-2013 05:20 PM
11-10-2013 04:32 PM
When you say that you thought you were “a while from that,” I’m intrigued to know how long you were imagining a “while” was? Boys begin puberty at age nine on average. So your boys are likely already there. (My older one probably isn’t quite there yet, but he definitely knows what’s up.) If you’re soliciting readers to opine on what they think the threshold is, beneath which a parent can’t safely talk to their children about sex, then I think it’s essential that they be made to qualify their opinions. Why, for instance, is it assumed that information about sexuality is something that must be withheld from children in the first place? Even the way parents use the expression “the talk” is problematic. “The talk” is never an ongoing conversation to be revisited as children become more sophisticated about their own sexuality and require answers to more questions. Parents treat it as a one time affair. Something you put off as long as possible, then get out of the way as quickly as possible.
And your child can tell when his parent’s official attitude is… “Let us never speak of this again.”
This entire attitude cultivates the impression that sex is dirty or morally wrong instead of something to be enjoyed. You don’t have “a talk” with your child about other biological functions, like digestion. You don’t have “a talk” about art or politics. They will learn quickly that sex is a special category of information, that must be avoided in order to appease people who have power over them.
My partner and I decided early that we wanted to raise our kids in a sex-positive environment. We’ve both met plenty of parents we didn’t like, and plenty of kids we liked even less. We had plenty of time to think critically about where people go wrong in raising them. And these screwed up ideas about sexuality that they inherited from the Victorians were at the top of our list. We’ve never had “the talk” with our boys and we won’t. Instead, we’ve had an ongoing conversation that began when (our oldest at least) expressed the first glimmer of curiosity about sexuality. And our conversations are not the uncomfortable exchanges that so many parents seem to dread. Explaining the gender differences that are obvious to any five year old, like the breasts on women that are mysteriously absent on men, required a digression on sexual dimorphism. From there our conversation naturally wended into evolutionary biology… to neurology… to teleology… to moral philosophy. And as my son’s breadth of information grew, he began to make connections. He saw structure and patterns emerge that I know remain completely beyond his peers. At Eight, he already has a grasp of why a hummingbirds beak and and an orchid can have shapes that are reciprocal to one another even though they’re different species. He’s become more curious, more thoughtful and more considerate of others. And When I see how he has grown as a person, I realize that to withhold this information from him or his brother for some late victorian’s comfort, would be to do both of them a tremendous disservice.
11-10-2013 05:12 PM - edited 11-10-2013 05:12 PM
11-13-2013 08:12 PM
11-19-2013 12:22 AM
I think this is one subject that everyone might feel differently about.
As a family we are open about our bodies, where babies come from and all the changes our bodies go through as we mature. I hope that our openess allows our children to feel comfortable enough to ask questions when they are ready for answers.
Talking about sexuality is different than talking about sex. My 9 year old is comfortable discussing sexuality but in no way is she ready to be talking about sex.
Oh the joys of parenting!
12-05-2013 01:48 AM - edited 12-05-2013 01:49 AM
I agree with what everyone up above me has said. I personally go off of Finlands rather open dilogue regarding sex. Teaching our children about sex, what it means, realtionships and things to be aware of, is a good thing. I actually sat with my oldest at 10 and showed him a condom. We talked about the condom, how to use it, what it helps with and what it didn't. I gave him one to play with because the more you normalize using birth control the more likely a teen will. I also buy condoms in front of my boys ( even though I don't use them) just to reinforce and role model. I have never had ' A talk' with my kids. It's been an ongoing natrual process since the day they were born, starting out with, callng their genitals by the right name. I have an almost 16 year old that has never had sex. I know this because we talk about it. I know he wants to and he shares this. He knows it's normal and ok to want sex and we don't put it down. He is aware of std's and teen pregnancy. Going with the open and honest path that we have as parents has actually made our son not be active. He has abstained because of our openess. We have taken a lot of the curiosity out of it and made it a reality of sorts. Sex is normal to our family and we don't have any personal ties to religion, so that doens't get in our way. You should really research other countries. Google the lowest teen pregnancy rates and see what they do so differently then the United States. You can't wait till a kid is 13 or older to discuss sex. Start it now and just be age appropriate. I always told my kids if they ever had any questions that we would give them the truth compared to their friends. They have multiple times taken us up on that offer. BTW, I don't even want to imply that all of this has been easy or is easy. We have all had our uncomfy moments and still do. Most of that has been due to my own past, upbringing and fear. I don't want to rasie my children that way, though. So, I push past myself privately and go forward. It's my job and they deserve it.
12-05-2013 06:53 AM
I really appreciate your sharing and also I agree to your saying that sharing of such stories with ones kids depends upon the maurity level achieved. I have seen a profound effect in terms of growth pattern of kids and find it quiet un-expected as the maturity is coming at an early phase of life itself.
12-05-2013 11:36 AM
I came across this e-mail and it has me nervous, I have a boy who will be & in a few months and I thought I had a LONG time to go. I was thinking around 13 or 14 at the earliest. Seeing that it is on average to do this around 10 makes me sad. I feel its too young and at 10 years old my son should be into sports and other childhood activities, not sex. Its sad if thats what 10 year olds are doing. Would obviouls rather keep him safe and from becoming a teenage father.