Harder then having the sex talks was asking him later if those talks actually helped.
I learned about sex as a preteen at a slumber party. The revelation was shocking. I had no idea. (And, for the record, neither did the kids informing me.) Even though, in our childhood play, Barbie and Ken were often seen slipping away to a dark room together — I'd never imagined them doing what I learned about at that party.
Before that jarring experience, my mom took me to the lingerie department when I was about 10-years old, hugged me, and told me I needed a bra. Yet another out-of-nowhere blow. I didn't even know my body was changing.
And so, my early sex education was a series of sometimes wide eyed, mouth gaping and many times, traumatic experiences.
And I didn't want that for my son. So, in parenting him I was proactive ... sort of.
Yes, we had a more purposeful talk when he was younger, but as he got older all our other talks evolved in ways that were surprising, to him and to me.
Now he is 21. A young man. And I wondered how he feels now (in hindsight) about those talks we had back then. So, I decided to ask him. And as a result, we ended up having an amazingly, soulful conversation about what he learned and what he didn't. But, mostly, I came away from our conversation thinking, Wow, this is an amazing young man.
So here there are — the six things I learned from my son about what our children take away with them after we give them the "sex talk."
1. Kids remember having "the talk."
I mean, I guess that in itself is meaningful. He doesn't remember every exact word but my son does remember it occurring. He even remembers what house we lived in when he first learned about sex at age eight. In other words, our kids notice when we try to tell them something important.
2. They WILL watch porn (even if you want to believe otherwise).
My son watched porn at age 13 and that's when the computer landed in the kitchen for a couple of years. It's also when we talked about "real" sex (as opposed to porn sex), objectifying women (a big word for him at the time), and what it meant to respect both yourself and another.
3. It's OK to talk about sex to them about sex once they're sexually active.
In fact, it was a relief for my son. We have so many misconceptions about boys and sex. But he actually asked me to talk to his girlfriend too and so the three of us sat down together. Don't assume your children don't want your input and advice when sex officially enters their life.
4. Protection is important.
Thank goodness this one stuck in his brain! THIS lesson he apparently received loud and clear — from me, from his health class at school and from his dad. I'm glad, because protection IS important.
5. Consent is everything!
My son says he learned that "it's important to use your words" to actually confirm her consent, rather than relying on what you think is going on with a girl. And as a woman who has been on the awkward, receiving end of many false assumptions from men, I'd say that my son is ahead of most on this one.
6. Sex is a gift you give your partner.
It's about serving them. My son said when he was "younger," sex for him was more self-focused, but now he receives more when he gives. Damn! I'm not sure that I even had this one understood at his age, in fact, I'm pretty sure I didn't.
In the end, our conversation was a beautiful thing — I feel like I can honestly pat myself on the back if those are truly the six things he's taken away from our sex talks (and hopefully applying to his interactions with others).
When I asked him how he generally felt about those sex talks long ago, he told me they were helpful. He actually got some pertinent information, and while he may have initially felt embarrassed, it wasn't a bad thing because I never shamed him.
Phew! ... Mission accomplished!