One of the things we have always felt very strongly about, especially as modern day parents, is that no matter what our kids ask us, or whatever conversations come up as they mature, that we would offer them honesty at every turn. Not the type of honesty that sugar -coats things or gives room for misunderstandings or misinterpretations. Or the kind that only leaves them feeling more confused than before. No, the Honest-to-God kind of truth, in all it’s beautiful and sometimes gory detail. In reason of course – I’m not going to go and tell them about the axe murderer down the street or the level of evil that exists in the world, because that would only serve to instil fear in them and create anxiety about things out of our control.
I know to most parents that seems like pretty straight-forward protocol. You know, teaching them that honesty is the best policy from the day they are old enough to lie about the chocolate on their faces, or deny letting one slip in the car ride home from soccer practice.
Sure it can come back to bite us in the ass because well, if we are teaching them “honesty above all”, how can we not be expected to be straight-up with them when they ask us their burning questions about life and humans and all the weird and wonderful things that make up this journey we are on together. It turns out they hold us to the same standard and truth is, as hard as it may get, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So when our boys, began asking us about sex in more detail, we honestly just felt like it was an opportunity to put our ethos to the test and honour their courage with TRUTH! To show them we we’re comfortable with talking to them about anything – Even the most intimate and historically awkward conversation about the birds and the bees.
Sure we’ve had a much simpler conversations with them in the past…. you know, that one time Brody burst out in the middle of Mac Donald’s while I was 7 months pregnant with Hunter “How did the baby get into to your tummy though?” To which I gave our standard generic answer, “Daddy put a special seed in there, which found a special egg in mom’s tummy, and they joined together and grew a special baby. Just like when you were in mommy’s tummy”
But I knew this conversation was going to be different and I wanted them both to hear it at the same time. I can remember when I was younger (about 6) and hearing it through one of my brother’s friends. (Well the most messed up version of it anyway!) I wish it had been a conversation saved for my mom and I, a talk she would have openly had with me. Obviously that conversation did eventually happen, and to my parent’s knowledge it was the first time I was ever hearing words like “sperm”, “penis” and “vagina” all in one sentence. I had already spent the better part of two years agonising over why God would ever allow such a disgraceful act to go unpunished between a two very disturbed people. My parents included. (AGAIN because I had heard it from someone else and not in the safety of a caring relationship)
While Brody(7) might be too young in many ways, I didn’t want there to be any room for that kind of confusion or for him to find out the way I did. And with things happening so much younger now days and our kids being exposed to so much more online and with friends at school, I guess we thought “It’s bound to get a little weird no matter which way we look at it, but I think it will be a little less messy if he hears it from us”
So hearing Dad take the reins and gently coach the boys by encouraging questions was a defining moment for us as as pattens I think. (We felt, for them as boys, that it would be good if they heard it from a man’s perspective – you know man to man!) It seemed like the most natural conversation between a dad and his sons and I think because we responded to their questions (we answered only as much as they asked) and their genuine interest in knowing all the facts, it turned out to be the most amazing open dialogue. Were they a little freaked out? Maybe, but no more so than when they learnt about natural birth or, that mom and dad experimented with drugs when we were younger (and dumber). The truth is only scary and intimidating when we are having to try desperately to hide it or cover it up. The second it’s out in the open, it becomes lighter and easier to talk about. In my opinion anyway.
I guess, the point of sharing this with you guys is to remind you that we know our kids better than anyone and if these conversations lead us to the BIG conversation about sex, well maybe we should be trusting our gut and talking to our kids about this stuff in a far less apprehensive and anxious way. Yes, in all its awkward and somewhat crazy detail! Sure, all the books and online articles can serve as helpful resources as we navigate these uncharted waters, but the authors of these books don’t know our children or the kind of relationships we have with them. They are guidelines, not rules set in stone for us to take without much consideration.
I don’t think we can put a one-size-fits-all age restriction on these types of things because kids all mature differently, are exposed to different conversations and show interest in different things at different times of their lives. I am so glad we have had a safe, open and straight-forward conversation which didn’t allow for feelings of shame or embarrassment. I’m relieved to know they won’t feel embarrassed coming to us when they hear someone else’s skewed idea of what sex is. They asked, and we answered, as simple as that.
As a mom of two sons, I feel that much more responsible for raising boys who have a real understanding of the intricacies of sex and all the responsibility that comes with it. I want to teach them that that sex is something valuable, done in a committed relationship. I want to teach them that sex is sacred, designed by God to be enjoyed with one loving partner and above all, something that a woman has the right to say no to. Committed. Consensual. Safe. Respectful. Loving. Intimate. Trust. These are all the words that boys need to associate with sex as they mature. And while they are much too young to fully realise the weight of these things now, the dialogue most certainly STARTS now. It needs to be a positive and open one, from the get-go.
I think we sometimes just figure it’s going to be a once-off conversation. That we will have this big chat, dust our hands off and walk away, never to bring it up again. But in actual fact this topic should and will come up at many different times of their young lives, at age-appropriate intervals. All I l know is that for us, it’s been such a great reminder of the relationship we want with our boys – one where they know we are available, night and day, to talk about anything that’s worrying them or weighing heavy on their hearts. We know by talking to them openly about sex, we have developed trust. The kind of trust, which will hopefully set the trajectory for an honest, open and trusting relationship that will stand the test of time.
Keen to hear more about how the conversation went down? And some helpful guidelines should you be in the same season as we are? Look out for our next post.