I haven’t been feeling well lately so my bed and television have become my BFFs this past week.
Which of course meant a chance to catch up on the daytime TV.
Aside from catching up on my favorite soaps and a healthy dose of Noggin and Sprout with Peanut, I caught Friday’s Oprah and the revisit with Dr. Laura Berman.
I know you will remember how in April, Jennifer posted about why she would never watch Oprah again. I loved her post even though I respectfully disagree with some parts of her post. So to watch this episode on Friday with two teens who claimed to “be ready” to have sex with each other,
was not so much an eye opener, as it was a breath of fresh air and an affirmation of how I feel about talking to my kids about sex (and now my teenage son).
I mean lets get real, kids are going to have sex, despite the preaching of abstinence and telling kids not to do it (I believe Bristol Palin is a prime example of why that doesn’t work). I was (cover your eyes and ears if you don’t want to see mom and dad), 16 when I had sex for the first time. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t fabulous either. It would take a few more years and sexual experiences for me to finally get comfortable with sex, my own body, my own sexuality and the power I had as a woman. It’s astonishing to me that we aren’t talking to our kids.
Was I talked to about sex growing up? Yes… and No. The REAL TALKS came after I was having sex and they came from my father. (shocked yet?) I give my dad HUGE PROPS for talking to me (I think it was a year after I had sex for the first time). Did he want to? *snort* Probably not! I’m sure he would have been thrilled to never have that discussion but he did it. I gained so much from that strained, awkward, and challenging discussion in our tiny kitchen. He never went to the topic of self stimulation (I think that would have been the end of him right then and there!) but we talked about being safe, making good decisions and he opened the door for me to say a few things that I had been thinking.
I don’t think that my soon to be 10 year old daughter is ready to learn about self pleasure and gratification either so I’m waiting on that. However, thanks to a young female family member and a few sleepovers away from me, she has learned a few things about sex and where babies come from. I found all of this out recently and at first I was enraged that this very personal conversation had taken place. I was beside myself with anger that the talk that I wanted to have with her had been taken from me. It took all I had to not go through the roof. Going through the roof would have gotten me nowhere so I calmed myself and talked to Bebe about what she knew and what she learned from her older, and not so much wiser female family member.
The details aren’t important, but I did learn that there is still power in talking to your child. Bebe knows that some of the information she got was incomplete at best. She knows that in time, when her body and mind are ready she will be able to have a baby too, and she now knows that this information I’ve given her, the correct information, is for her ears only. It’s not her place to share it with friends or her brothers. I’ve given her the gift of saying it’s OK to ask questions and learn more. It’s OK to want to understand about your body and what it can do. I’ve also given her the information that not everything she hears is correct.
Back to Dr. Berman and Oprah; I’m glad they are having these shows. Times have changed. It’s ridiculous to expect our children to remain innocent forever and it’s our moral obligation as parents to talk to them about what’s happening to their bodies and their minds when they become teenagers. Just because we are educating them does not mean we’re giving them license to go out and have sex. BUT at least they have the correct information, they have the whole story (as Dr. Berman took Courtney through the entire thought process of what could happen after sex including what does staying together a long time really mean to her and her boyfriend).
Kids grow up faster today than they ever have. Peer pressure and information from peers is not only the norm but it takes the place of parental supervision for a lot of teens. I’m not about to stick my head in the sand and pretend my kids won’t turn into sexual beings. I’d like to think I’d be as realistic as Pierce’s mom (the young man on Oprah’s show). If it were my daughter or son, I would (and will) take them to buy the protection that they need too.
I’d like to think my kids will wait until they are married to have sex but in case they aren’t…
I know that not all of you are going to agree with me here. I don’t expect that (let the hate mail begin). This is a sensitive and highly controversial topic, but if you have kids, at one point or another you’ll have to make a choice about the discussions you have and the knowledge they need so I think it warrants talking about now. I was lucky that I had a proactive parent in my life, who has much as it pained him to see me grow up, he didn’t stick his head in the sand.
As I said earlier, I learned a lot from my dad in that very awkward discussion but the most important thing I learned was exactly how much he cared for my well being and safety to suck up his own embarrassment and reservations about teenage sex to have an open and honest talk with me.
That’s the same thing I want my kids to learn from me.