Yesterday I asked my son how his health class was going.
"There's a lot of detail about men's bodies, but they're leaving out parts of women's bodies."
I was pretty sure they weren't leaving out anything important like Fallopian tubes or bladders, but I had to ask. Yup, they weren't talking about the clitoris.
Apparently the first time my son got sex education at school, they gave the kids a pre-test to find out what they knew. The clitoris was mentioned on the pre-test, but never discussed in the actual class. This year it's just not being mentioned at all.
My son found out what a clitoris is by asking a friend. Well, I assume he found out. I was too embarrassed to check that the information he got was accurate.
Thirty years ago my health class avoided the subject, too. One day the boys were sent out of the room and the girls could ask any questions they wanted. That was when I first heard about clitorises and hymens. Apparently things haven't changed that much.
So now I have a problem. How do I make sure my son learns about more than reproduction and staying safe? He doesn't need to know it now, but I don't think I can wait until he's engaged and hand him a marriage manual. And my daughter will need to know about her body long before she has a boyfriend.
I don't feel comfortable talking to them about anything this explicit myself. First because it's always important to wait until they're developmentally ready for information, not push it at them. (I've made that mistake before.) But even when they're ready to ask, I don't think they'll want to ask me. Sometimes talking to parents about things is ewey.
I was lucky growing up. My mother had friends who were sex educators in the Bronx. I had access to Our Bodies, Ourselves. I heard about Betty Dobson and her workshops on masturbation. I bought the Hite Report on sale at Woolworths and Anais Nin from my book club. That was how I got my real sex education.
So now I'm trying to figure out, how can I make sure my kids get accurate information on sexuality, not just reproduction? I don't want them to have to rely on the warped vision of pornography or the confusion of other kids. How did the rest of you out there get your real sex education? What worked well? What didn't? How do other parents out there deal with this? What do you wish your parents did better?