Talking about sex...my epic fail as a parent.
I have always had a problem saying the words penis and vagina. They just sound so...I don't know...vulgar. Instead I like to use friendlier terms like wiener and "privates". (Because that sounds so, you know, sophisticated.)
So, the other day when I saw a friend of mine had posted an announcement about a speaker whose topic was centered around how to talk with your children about sex I thought to myself...I gotta go! Surely she will have some good advice for me. (Y'all remember I have kids in their 20's, teens, and tweens, right?)
So, there I am last night, a mother of five beautiful children, sitting in an audience mesmerized by a woman who is sharing how to discuss the mechanics of sex, birth, masterbation, and oral sex with your child.
In my mind I'm thinking, man I needed to see her speak YEARS ago! I literally wanted to bring her home with me! She was so good....so clear, so engaging, she could say words like penis and vagina without even wincing. She had a six-point plan centered around sex education that just flowed out of her with ease.
I felt so....I don't know, inadequate.
This is the way we've handled the incredibly important, yet hard-to-talk-about-without-blushing topic of sex and babies at our house: At ten-ish years old I buy a book filled with all sorts of information on body changes and where babies come from. I hand said book to child with a 15-second lecture about how your body will be changing and how you can learn about it here and I am always available to listen and answer questions. I also say if you are too embarrassed to actually ask me anything, please feel free to write me a letter and I will promptly respond. Tom doesn't even broach the subject at all. Like religion, this is my territory.
Talk about shitty parenting.
Now, I have no problem talking about tough subjects like drug use with my kids, sex (on the other hand) makes me weak in the knees. No pun intended. I will be the first to say one of my greatest parenting goals is to have open communication with my kids, and that (except for the topic of sex) I do indeed feel I have achieved this with each of them.
Seriously though, what could be more a more important subject than sex? And, what I don't tell them they will surely (and have, I am certain) find out through friends and the Internet of course. Is this where I want my kids to get their information and learn about what their dad and I feel is the best way to handle their God-given growing sexuality?
All I can say is, thank God for Mary Flo Ridley and the work that she does! Her program Sooner Thank You Think really helped me put into perspective why it's vital Tom and I not wait one more day to tackle this topic with the kids on a mature, responsible level.
Using words like penis and vagina.
While I fear it is too late with Nick and Allen-Michael, I know I can redeem myself with the other three! I am sure they will be excited about my newfound courage to discuss male and female genitalia with appropriate vocabulary and how important it is to wait for the boundary of a life-long commitment before giving oneself fully.
Maybe part of the reason I have such a hard time with the topic is because my parents didn't address it much or very thoroughly. They left the morality to my Catholic school educators once my mom gave me the quick mechanics when I accidentally walked in on the two of them. Something no child ever forgets.
The other reason I find the "when should I" part of the topic challenging is because I had my son out of wedlock when I was nineteen. While I would not wish any of my kids to experience parenthood that young, I would also never say my oldest was a mistake or in any way unwanted. I will have to spend a little more time thinking about how to tackle this part of the topic.
If you, like me, struggle with words like penis and vagina, please take a few minutes to check out Mary's website (click here) she is not only very knowledgeable in how to discuss the topic, but incredibly entertaining as well.