Saturday, June 13, 2015

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!


Times they are a-changin’. Quaint & cliché it may sound, but back in my day, “the talk” was a lot different.

Maybe your parent of the same gender sat you down to quickly & awkwardly explain to you “the birds & the bees,” and, most likely, you were too stunned or too mortified to ask questions. Or, maybe that was just in my household. Hearing my mother – who never said a curse word – say the word “penis” was as close to hell on earth as I could imagine. I distinctly remember saying, “Mom! Please stop saying that word!” When she started in with “Your dad & I…” my beautiful brain mercifully switched on the internal MUTE function.
If you didn’t hear it at home or, worse, from somebody’s older sibling with way too many grossly exaggerated and false details, you probably heard about it in school.

In my very small hometown, our entire fifth grade class was segregated by gender. The boys heard who-knows-what from the P.E. teacher; the girls suffered in awkward silence through explanations of the technical names for each of our parts and learned of the horror that was to befall us at an unbeknownst date and time, which would grant us a return visit every month until forever.  And then we were asked if we had any questions. Ummmm…seriously?

When you don’t know what you don’t know, how do you know enough to ask?

Family dynamics and access to information look very different in 2015.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25% of kids in America are being raised by single mothers, and approximately 40% of those kids are boys between the ages of 9 – 14. That’s not to say that only single moms have to have “the talk” with their pre-pubescent boys. While my son’s father is a very active part of his life, he’s not much of a conversationalist. He and my son share a love of baseball, video games and Nana. When it comes to questions about life – and even death – it’s mom on duty.

The time to be silent is over. We have to talk about this stuff.

What’s a mom to do?

Despite the obvious lack of physical similarities, it is imperative for mothers to have open, honest and straightforward conversations with their sons about sex.

In the Information Age, our kids are one smart phone or tablet or mouse click away from unfiltered information about a variety of topics. Wouldn’t you rather them get the real information from you as opposed to the Internet or a friend’s older brother (true story: my son has a friend whose older brother tried to “teach” him what humping was at the tender age of 8)?

If you are afraid it’s going to be weird or awkward, let me reassure you. Of course it’s going to be weird AND awkward!  I’m not sure who giggled more during our talk - my son or me.

It is, however, absolutely critical that we establish the tenet of trust and communication now while they still want to talk to us! (I am using exclamation points a lot because, ladies, this is super important!)

By not talking about it, we are missing the chance to let kids know what is normal and healthy and what is not. We are grossly negligent in emphasizing the importance of consent and the dangers of webcams and sexting (read: possible criminal record as a pedophile). When we don’t listen and really hear our kids, they could end up pregnant, or worse, dead! Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15 – 24. Not to be all gloom & doom, but kids who are confused or worse, persecuted, for their sexuality don’t have the emotional intelligence to talk through their feelings and wait for society to accept them. They get scared. Be there for them, even when it’s weird or difficult.

So, how do I talk to my kid about sex?

Good question! Here are some tips:
1.     Be honest. You can answer questions simply without elaborating on the details. They are looking for answers. It’s likely they don’t know already if they are asking, or they are feeling you out to test just how much they can talk with you.
2.     Be open. This means subjects like homosexuality, masturbation and babies – just to name a few – are all on the table.
Note: Simply giving a definition does not grant permission, nor does it mean one set of values or beliefs has to trump another.
3.     Talk about the scary stuff before it’s scary. This time is precious. The period of time when your kids come to you for answers is a gift - use it with reckless abandon! Talk about the importance of consent (theirs and other people’s), STDs and protection, pregnancy, and the importance of the emotional connection that comes with sharing yourself in the most intimate way with someone, and how important it is to wait for the most special someone who deserves that gift.
4.     Laugh. Go ahead. Snort, even. Don’t be afraid to admit to your kid that you feel as weird and awkward answering the questions as they feel asking you questions.
5.     Earn their trust. Show them that they can come to you with anything – ANYTHING – and you will talk with them openly.  Wouldn’t you rather them come to you when they know nothing and learn that it’s safe instead of coming to you later, or not coming to you at all because they are afraid?
6.     Make it safe. Don’t yell. Don’t criticize. Don’t ridicule. Don’t punish. No seriously, don’t.

We want to hear from you, Janes! Have you had the talk with your kids? What worked & what didn’t?

#beresponsible #knowledgeispower #stayunchained

💕 Zoey Jane 

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