Walking the Line
When you are telling your kids about sex, you need to walk the line between too much information and not enough.
When I was growing up, talking about sex with your children was something parents just didn’t do. Some still don’t. My introduction to sex was earlier than I wanted it to be. There was that infamous “Girls Menstruate” movie that just about all kids got at 4th or 5th grade. For our school it was in the 5th grade. They gathered all the girls into one room and all the boys into another. Then they ran the male or female version of the movie.
Now, the problem with this movie was that it just told you that girls menstruate. There was nothing about sex per se. That didn’t come until the 8th grade, when most of my sexually active fellow students were using rubber bands and saran wrap.
Well, Mom did try…more or less. I remember that summer afternoon in the San Joaquin Valley when it was far too hot and humid (before air conditioning) to do anything except lay on a sheet in the living room under the cooler that did an inadequate job. That’s when we had “the talk.” I was about twelve at the time. Again more information before I really wanted it. To put is more succinctly, she talked and I listened.
There was no information from her either on how babies came about. I went through the next three years thinking that if I as much brushed up against a boy I would get pregnant. I remember vividly being at the County Fair and having brushed up against a boy there and worrying for weeks that I might be preggers (yep, I was a slow learner).
It wasn’t until I was about to graduate from high school that I learned more about love and sex. This was the first time in my life when “love and marriage” were linked. I vaguely remember him saying something about that. But I also remember “too much information.” I also learned how he felt about having sex with my mother once she had her hysterectomy.
We’re still fighting over this one. After the “Summer of Love” information became more available. The schools were still not linking love to sex. By that time I had graduated from college during the “Summer of Love,” and then began teaching. In their infinite wisdom, the school district picked the two single teachers to teach the girls about sex. (Yes, as late at high school in 1972 they were still separating the genders for sex talks.) Unfortunately, by then, I had learned more than they wanted the girls to learn. Our instructions were to volunteer no information unless asked. Well, the girls asked and I had the answers. Too bad for the school district and better for the girls. Also unfortunately, there was still no link between sex and love.
By the time I had my foster children, I had definitely learned a lot more. Yes, we had the frank talks, but now there was, from me, a link between love and sex. We talked about sex, preventing pregnancy, gay and lesbian sex, and love.
What the Kids Taught Me
The kids wanted me to be honest with them. They wanted to know what their options were. They wanted to know my beliefs. They wanted me to take a stand on whether or not they should have sex, but they also wanted to make that decision themselves. They wanted to know that their parents were still having sex, but they didn’t want details… they wanted to know that after 40 sex does not end. And they also wanted to be reassured that sex is not a separate act from love.