The Sex Talk

Christians have made a mess of sex, and not in a good way. They’ve created a Schizophrenic attitude toward a completely natural, human desire. They teach abstinence and guilt and unhealthy attitudes. Sure, blame it on the Puritans, but all of America’s big religions are culpable.

If you think about it, the entire Adam and Eve story is crazy. A lonely God created Adam, who was also lonely. So then God decided to make Eve, only to set them up for a fall with a manipulative snake, a phallic creature that outsmarted Eve. OK. So now they know about s-e-x. They had forty-seven children, but only two boys survived. And you know the question that everyone asks next: Well, how did they have children?

Somewhere along the line, man started figuring out how babies were made. And the guys started to realize, hey how do I know this kid is mine? And the gals started to ask, hey how do I know who my baby daddy is? And the Stone Age came along and man knew that he could fashion weapons and tools so that he could 1. Make stuff and 2. Kill people to take their stuff. So they started “stuff accumulation.” But they needed to know who to give their stuff to when they died. (Bear with me.) So that’s when people needed to know exactly whose baby belonged to whom.

Whew. Then church came along: The Roman Catholic Church, which was not, of course, the only church, but it was sure big and powerful. The more kids parishioners had, the more members the church had. And the more money it had. But that worked best in families, where there was income that could be used to support the family as well as tithed to the church. The church became adept at controlling women: no, you cannot participate in the service; you cannot be a priest. You cannot use birth control. You cannot decide to terminate a pregnancy—any pregnancy. You cannot. You cannot. You cannot. You have to model yourself after the Virgin Mary. Pure. Chaste. Not slutty like those prostitutes in the Bible.

So, that is the very, very short version of why we have so many issues with sex in our country, which has since been aggravated, as I mentioned, by our Puritanical roots. So how do we help our kids develop healthy attitudes about their bodies and about sex, especially since we don’t have religion to throw at them?

I agree with Christians on one thing—our bodies are temples. I’ve told my kids this over and over and over again. It’s the same for boys and girls. You have to respect it—not only in the way you treat it, but how you feed yourself and whom you share it with. I started this talk early because I didn’t want my kids to learn about sex from someone else, a kid in class or some stranger in the park. Sex is serious business. It is good business, but something you should not enter into unless you’re an adult. By then, you will have (hopefully) established good relationship skills. By then, you should be able to list out the reasons why you like a girl or a boy. Christians got it right in teaching their kids to save themselves—but not because it will keep them “pure.” Because sex is not bad or dirty. They should save themselves because sex is emotionally costly and physically risky. You do not want a kid you’ll have to live with or a disease you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. These are the things I tell my children.

I hope they will wait until they find someone really special. Because they want to share this experience with someone they know and really like, not just share an experience with a stranger. Sex is not something given or taken, but shared. For both genders.

Feel free to share how you do it (the sex talk) at your house.

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71 responses to “The Sex Talk

  1. My oldest son is 6 years old and. barring going into detail about foreplay, he knows the basics of how his little brother got here. We use proper terminology (penis, vagina, sperm, egg) and gave him a rough idea of how a sperm fertilizes the egg.

  2. Thanks for posting this. My mother just told me today that she is praying to all the guardian angels and saints for me. It’s so disturbing. I let her keep it up, because I feel like it gives her purpose — makes her feel like a mother — if only she knew that I feel abused and mistreated by her “prayers”.

  3. I found your post interesting. I like the general theme of it but in saying that I also found it interesting because your understand or at least your explanation of certain religious things so different. The way you describe Adam and Eve and Gods motivation for example. I am a student of many religions and many Christian religions and this was the first time I had ever heard it described in he way you did. Interesting to me. Even so I do think your correct in your final conclusion. I enjoyed the post.

  4. I’m a single father with a five year old daughter. I have no idea how to approach this topic or when. I thought about getting my mom and/or sisters to assist with this.

    • @dqfan2012 Oh, wow. I know it feels awkward….I felt the same way. Fortunately, at that age they just think you’re teaching them new information and they don’t attach any feelings of shame or embarrassment.

  5. Me again:). This is the first site that came up on Google. http://www.prebirthexperience.com/
    May Christian’s believe we lived before we came to this earth and that Adam and Eve were put on earth to establish a way for spirits to experience physical life. You can of course delet this. I just wanted you to see what I was referring to.

    Many Christians, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Sikhism, Native American/Inuit traditions believe in life before this physical life and that in some form wer came here through Adam and Eve or similar beings and the “God” facilitated that for his spiritual Children so they could have a body. Not the Roman Cathlics of course but some. :)

  6. Thanks for this post. My 7th grade son just completed a two-week course on abstinence that was a complete waste of his time and mine because each day I had to explain further or correct wrong information he got from the teacher.

    The first week of the two-week course was about saying no in general terms to things that are bad: drugs, smoking, and sex. They never talked about what any of these things are so I had to tell my son that drugs could include sniffing glue and inhaling from aerosol cans. I had to explain that getting high also means holding your breath until you pass out or having a friend strangle you until you pass out. We talked about how smoking includes more than cigarettes. More importantly, my son and I talked about the ‘plumbing’ of sex – what goes where and why.

    In the second week, the curriculum focused on how much work babies are. The kids were not ever presented with the option of birth control or abortion or even adoption. They were read stories that assumed a teen father would have a major role in the upbringing of his unplanned child because the teen mother had the baby and kept it.

    At the end of week two, the teacher told the kids about STDs. My son had the impression that all sex led to infection because the teacher failed to explain that only infected people could infect others.

    Not once was there mention of birth control, non-heterosexual sex, abortion, rape, incest, or healthy sexual relations between people who love each other and care for each other.

    I live in a state where my kids regularly have classmates who are pregnant and it is estimated that 25% of people between the ages of 18-25 have an STD. Yet the Christian conservatives block real sex education because they see it as an encouragement to kids despite the fact that studies show that kids who go through comprehensive sex education programs become sexually active later and are less likely to get pregnant or contract an STD.

    And that is the real problem – facts are completely irrelevant when dealing with Christian conservatives. When you take even the most basic things on faith, what need is there for evidence at all? Evidence is code for liberal agenda and godlessness. Evidence does not get butts in the seats on Sunday or checks in the collection basket. Evidence leads to women and gays and minorities getting equal rights. Evidence leads to regulating business and embracing diversity. Evidence promotes change while faith promotes dogma.

    Today on NPR’s Tell Me More, conservative Christian activist Richard Land gloated to Michelle Martin that the anti-abortion, anti-gay part of America was outbreeding the progressives and would overcome them in another generation. I’d like to think he’s wrong. Maybe people value evidence more than faith don’t have as many children, but young people aren’t stupid. One third of the under-30 population is non-religious. We have to continue to push our lawmakers to create policies based on evidence rather than blind faith and to teach our kids that evidence should never take a back seat to dogma.

    • @Patricia O-Sullivan I’m going to send my mom a link to your website because she loves historical fiction.
      Thanks for sharing your experience. That does not surprise me they teach a class on abstinence and yet have high pregnancy & STD rates.
      Sad what Richard Land said and hopefully not true. I was just thinking the other day that, with all the nonbelievers rising up through the ranks, the extremists like the Tea Partiers would be pushed out of the way.

      • @dam, thanks for the reply and for putting your mom onto my books. This is one of the few sites I belong to for reasons completely separate from my writing. Our family is recently ‘out’ as agnostics. A large part of what pushed us is the heavy-handed religious culture where we live. Your posts and your supporters replies mean so much to me. And thanks for tolerating my earlier rant. Conservatives may try to out-breed nonbelievers, but they won’t out-think this crowd!

  7. Pretty much exactly like you describe, actually. I do not preach abstinence to my kids; I talk to them about respect and responsibility, and the fact that sex is a fact of life, it’s a big deal that comes with responsibilities and physical, emotional, and financial risks, and that it’s an activity best engaged in by adults. My oldest son is in high school now, so in addition to this, we talk about birth control, because I’m not naive enough to think that if they want to do it badly enough, they will. I was a teenager myself, once upon a time!

    • @Lisa I agree–I don’t preach abstinence either. I’ve never used that word with my kids, but they learned about it at school.

      • Mine, too! They attend public school, and when the notice came home informing us that they would be viewing the film about reproduction and growth and development, the paper said that they teach abstinence. I told my son, “I’m not going to tell you not to have sex, because it’s not realistic. I hope you’ll wait until your old enough and mature enough to handle the responsibility because of X, Y, and Z.”

  8. Kathleen Quigley

    Dr. John Chirban has some great books about how to talk to your kids about sex from the standpoint of it being an important factor in a whole and healthy person. It’s very smart and relationship based- on how love and intimacy and sexuality affects relationships. I first read his “What’s Love got to Do with It? How to Talk to your Kids about Sex” and now see he has a few more books out. It’s not influenced by religious beliefs nor is it promoting promiscuity, but has great advice on teaching respect for self and others as well as whens and whys of bringing healthy safe sex into a relationship that I found reality based and great for discussions with young adults and teens. I found it incredibly useful so thought I’d share.

  9. Kathleen Quigley

    Your post is so timely- I have a teen and preteen and was raised Catholic in a family of a dozen. My young adult sexual identity was rough going to say the least and I so wish for my children- especially daughters to have a different experience. I have another book to share, although I haven’t read it fully yet- looks promising and takes into account how women in general in society can be only saint or sinner – with no in
    between!

    • @Kathleen Quigley A family of a dozen? Your mom must have been exhausted all the time! Thanks for sharing that book. I had not heard of it before, but it looks really interesting. Let me know how you like it…

  10. totally needed this post right now. Well done, as usual.

  11. Great topic, and nice posting on it… I have such a strong opinion on how our society handles sexuality completely wrong… Makes me want to scream.

  12. Deborah, reading through your post today, I am conflicted. Your description of the Christian faith in the first part of your post is so divergent from what I believe that I hardly recognize it. At the end of your post, we nearly agree. In my view, sex is a beautiful thing – I also believe that it is only appropriate in the context of marriage. I don’t think that adherence to this simple standard somehow makes a person unhealthy, crazy, controlling or ignorant. On the contrary, I feel that faithfulness within marriage forms the basis of a healthy relationship – at least it has in my case. Sure, individuals and organizations have taken this simple concept of appropriate sex and have added a lot of unhelpful baggage over the years. But, I feel it is important to separate Christ’s teaching on the topic from the rules made up and taught by people.

    On a practical level, I think that kids need to understand sex beyond the mechanics. I have raised three kids through adolescence and I felt that it was important to talk to them openly about my experiences and feelings at the same age including mistakes that I have made. The other thing that I have tried to teach them is to avoid putting themselves into risky situations where things could happen that they might later regret.

    My kids were thoroughly and exhaustively taught about sex in the public school system at a young age – too young in my view. All three kids were somewhat disturbed by what they saw and by off color remarks made by classmates afterward. I was torn, but decided not to exclude them from the classes because I felt that the stigma of that would be worse than the class itself. They survived and have grown up to have kids of their own now.

    I would be interested to understand your thoughts on the timing and content of sex education in the public school system.

    • @jp I understand what you are saying–what Christ taught was different than what different religions are teaching. I agree with you that faithfulness provides a solid foundation in marriage. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect our children, many of whom will not marry until their mid to late 20s, to abstain from sex. IMO, it’s better to teach them to respect their bodies and only choose to have a physical relationship with those they would WANT to marry.

      As for sex education in the public schools–it’s really just for those kids whose parents have not talked with them. I think it’s our job as parents to start the talks very early, with developmentally appropriate material. For example, around age two you start talking about their body and boundaries (how no one should touch them any where their bathing suit covers). I think public schools, many times, either avoid certain topics or instill fear. So I felt it was my job to prepare my kids before they went in. It was so matter-of-fact for us because we’d been having the dialogue all along. They always came to me with questions. And I had several books on their shelves (in their bedrooms) in case they ever wanted to read about a topic rather than discuss it with me…

      Yes, I also agree with you about teaching kids beyond the mechanics. In this post, I tried to show that. Maybe that didn’t come across.

      It is good to share your feelings about your experiences–as you said you shared with your children. As adults, we forget about that, how confusing/tempting/scary/exciting sex and everything that leads up to it can be. Did you also discuss the mechanics of sex and their bodies with your children? If so, at what age?

  13. “They should save themselves because sex is emotionally costly and physically risky.”

    Beautifully put, and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been a life-long atheist, and when I didn’t engage in sex all through college, some folks would ask why not. I wish I had been as eloquent as you are. Instead I just shrugged. I’ll have to pass this one. Thanks!

    • @tmso I vividly remember two deeply religiously girlfriends of mine. They left home and went overboard sleeping around in college…but they paid a high emotional toll.

  14. @dam: Thanks once again for raising an important issue. If just for it’s warped relation to sex, Christianity is bad for people. The entire religion (just like Islam or Judaism) is MAN-made ideology to control women and inheritance. There is NOTHING noble in that. At best the Christian© values function okayish when it comes to one on one sex but at worst they have driven loads of people miserable, insane or dead.

    • @saab93f For sure it has caused a lot of dysfunction in our sexual behaviors and attitudes…THat’s why the pornography industry is so huge here. We drive desire underground.

  15. @dqfan2012 If you don’t think you can face these conversations with out stammering and fumbling, by all means ask for female help, but I will tell you that because I am open to any and all questions my nearly 12 year old son comes to me with all of his ‘body’ queries. My husband gets pale and and starts gulping air ;)

    Here are two book titles that might also help. When I gave my son the first I told him that there was info in there he wouldn’t need until he was older, but available if there was ever a question he didn’t feel comfortable asking (may THAT never happen!!). “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robie Harris, and the American Girl book “the Care and Keeping of You” (I did not give him the AG book- but have freinds/family with daughters who have used it as a resource).

  16. Your thoughts are always cogent … enjoy them immensely. In my view religion = men controlling women, as clear as that (I’m a man) … the church is about money and power and telling people what they should do in the name of something called God, but he looks like and acts like an old white man … hmmm wonder where that came from? I always thought that if we actually knew what happens after death, there would be no religion. Would love your views on that someday. Thanks and keep going you have a lot more support than you know!

    • @hozo1 Thanks for those kind words. And I do agree with you about the church. Religion is opportunistic, leveraging hopes and fears in exchange for money and power.
      Feel free to give your views. I would love to hear them. We all learn from each other.

  17. I am so grateful for your perspective, insights, and reflections. I have been reading your blog only a short time but am glad each time I do.

    This has been a big topic in our family in the past few months as we are venturing deeper into this topic with our daughters, ages 11 and 8. We are SO grateful for our participation in the Unitarian Universalist (UU) church right now–specifically for their sexuality curriculum, Our Whole Lives (OWL). This curriculum spans human sexuality from preschool through adulthood and is one of the most comprehensive, objective, non-judgmental sex curriculum I’ve seen. We have been reading the suggested books with our children and I keep telling my daughters and other parents that KNOWLEDGE allows people makes informed decisions. So many people are afraid of this sex topic and because of it, more fear based beliefs, assumptions, and interpretations are created making sex a dirty, shameful, guilt-ridden topic. I am confident that our daughters will be raised to have strong, confident, beliefs about themselves in terms of their own sexuality.

    I’m grateful for a church/religious organization that has offered this opportunity to broaden minds and deepen conversations about sex.

  18. To your earlier point, it is clear that present societal norms are pushing the time when people marry progressively farther from our sexual prime. At the same time, environmental factors are pushing the average age of sexual maturity to younger ages. Also, kids are often mentally younger than their predecessors due to the extension of the educational process and delayed entry into the adult mainstream of society. A relatively short time ago, these time gaps were much shorter for the average person. More than ever, I think that it is important to have open dialog about sex with our kids.

    As far as timing, we discussed the topic as it came up and certainly before, during and after the school did its part. As much as I would like to say that we were model parents in how we led our children through this challenging period – at best, we muddled through.

    In our family, having older mentors played a big role. When our kids were growing up, there were some adults in our circle of friends that made a point to mentor kids in the community. As these kids grew up, some would, in turn, mentor the next younger set of kids. In one beautiful example, our oldest daughter was mentored by a girl about three years older. Later, our daughter mentored two younger girls who, in turn, have mentored our youngest daughter. This is nothing that we orchestrated or planned but it has made a huge difference in the way our kids have turned out.

    • @jp As parents, we try the best we can. I tell my kids I’m not going to get it right, but I’m trying. I think that about my parents, too. There were things they didn’t get right, but they tried. And, also, every kid is different, so there is not one right way. The mentoring idea is great. I would think kids could find it easier to open up to a peer who is more knowledgeable, but not as intimidating as an adults. Thanks for sharing that.

  19. This is so weird. We are driving down to Houston right now and we just passed that area that has all of the religious signs that say “stop the porn and be reborn.” and all of that other stuff. It got me thinking how I am going to talk to my boys about sex when they are older. I was thinking along the same lines you mentioned. The risks of sex can be so high, especially for younger people. Our first was a surprise, but we were married with good jobs and in our 30’s so it wasn’t a huge deal but if we would have been 10 years younger it would have been really tough. What irritates me with some Christians is that they talk about “saving” themselves for marriage but they will do everything but sex. I went to a Baptist university and it was astounding how people would rationalize it.

  20. Both of my daughters attended the OWL, Our Whole Lives, program offered by the Unitarian Universalists here in town. I believe it is one of the most important classes my girls will ever have taken. They took it in eighth grade….younger one is in the class right now. It spans 26 weeks and meets once a week for 1.5 hours. Last Sunday they had the Condom Olympics. They have also participated in a LGBT panel discussion. It is a strange thing when your kids feel more comfortable discussing these things than you do…but so very good,healthy, and important.

  21. I am so glad to see that someone else besides me thinks that we should talk with children honestly about sex. It drives me insane at all the violence we allow our children to witness but the minute someone shows too much skin, we shield their eyes. My son is only 2 so we have not yet had the talk, but I plan on being honest with him and talking sincerely about sex. No “baby planet” for him :)

    • @Amber That’s a good point and one that bothers me, too. Why do we allow kids to see such violence, but the first sign of sex, as you said, “we shield their eyes.” Doesn’t make sense.

  22. @btown girl I want to hear more about the condom Olympics.

  23. Hey Patricia! The session topic was Sexually Transmitted Diseases: STD Facts and Sexually Transmitted Diseases:STD Prevention so that is where the condoms came in. My daughter said there were numerous stations that were set up. One had bananas and unopened condoms…you had to open the condom and put it on the banana. Another had condoms you had to open, blow up and measure their circumference once you blew them up. Another one required you had a partner. You each held one end of the condom and used it like a sling shot with a soft yarn pom pom as the item being slung. That is all I can get our of her. If I find out more I will let you know. She seemed to have a lot of fun. One of the kids left class with a pretty big condom balloon.

  24. I was lucky enough to have someone let me check out this educator’s video about talking about sex with children. She does not bring religion or politics in to any of it. Her research shows that the US has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, STD’s, etc. due to the fact that as a society we don’t have open dialogue with our kids about sex. I HIGHLY recommend it. I don’t know her, and do not have an agenda to help her make money! Here’s the link: http://www.birdsandbeesandkids.com/about/index.html

  25. Hey Dam, as always, a great conversation. I’m glad that all of the parents on here are having “talks” with their children versus “the talk”. I cringe whenever I hear a parent say “the talk” because sex, drugs, and child/teen safety should all be continual conversations with our children.
    As someone who has recently become an ex-christian I have known both the burden and benefit of traditional sex education.
    First of all, there’s just about none of it, obviously, that’s horrible! Second of all, there’s too much pressure for purity in church, and usually in a super strict environment teens will go the extreme opposite direction and think that if they’re no longer virgins they might as well continue being sexually active because they can’t go back. The third thing I’ve noticed is when a child or teen has been raped, male or female, he or she tends to feel “dirty” when they hear that they are not pure. Personally, though I know their bodies are no longer the same, I consider those kids to still be innocent because they were given no choice in the matter/s. Finally, religion demonizes a woman who is sexually active, regardless of how little or how much sex she has had and often will not address the sexual morality of men. I remember years ago a young teenage girl told me something about a child evangelist in NYC who I had really respected at the time. She had a genuine interest in children’s ministry and saw this guy speak at a conference. Well, as he’s preaching, he yells that Brittney Spears is a whore! That was wrong and hateful, and I could no longer admire him, I was crushed!
    Personally, my husband and I did benefit from being virgins on our wedding night. Now it was ackward because we had both been told all our lives to save sex for marriage, and it was difficult to accept that it was okay for us to do it now. Afterall, this was in 2004, and we were both in our thirties, that’s a good number of years of programing that we had to diffuse in just one weekend. Yes, a crappy weekend, I wish we had the money and time to plan one to two weeks, but because we were so conditioned to give so much to work, our faith, and families we placed ourselves at the bottom of the list! Yeah, our priorities are very different today! I admit the sex was clumsy and quite emotionally draining. There was blood, pain, and tears, but my husband kept his cool, and was patient. He too regrets that we didn’t take more time then.
    I don’t believe that it is my duty to tell people to wait for sex in marriage. I just know that I am glad I gave my virginity to someone who loved me, and to whom I am married to. We have the most beautiful, loving, and intelligent little boys who are the best reminders of our love for each other. My hubby is a hard worker, and is the only one in this world who understands me. He is an amazing lover with a 99.99% approval rating (wink,wink), and he’s a fantastic daddy!

    • @Chope That’s so nice what you wrote–I hope you shared it with your husband! I like what you said about the talk being on-going…that’s so true. And, too, the comment about Brittney Spears. That never would have happened to a guy. You know, she reached success early and there’s a lot of pressure on girls to be sexy, to be the vixen, but then, too, the opposing pressure to be pure. It really messes with our girls’ minds and that’s too bad…

  26. The sex talk….drugs too!

    My mother loaded my sister and I in the car and drove us around the block.
    Mom said, “please promise me that you will not have sex.”
    “Ok, I won’t, ” I said. (same responses from my sister!)
    “Promise me, ” she responded
    “I promise, mom!” my final answer
    “Now, promise me you won’t take drugs.” mother’s educated approach to drugs and sex.
    “I promise not to take drugs, mom.”

    We got out of the car and went back inside. All done, the subject was never discussed again. Needless to say I had already smoked weed (if you use the term pot with your children it makes you appear unknowledgeable) and had already been drinking for awhile. I started young and maybe another topic will allow me to share some of those experiences.

    This is not the approach I took with my son and I am not sure what I will do with my daughter since she is only three. First, I think every child is different but there are certain things that would be the same all of us parents.

    The ‘BIG’ discussion of drugs and sex occurred this year with my 16 year old. We’ve discussed things in the past, but during first semester it became apparent that the big talk needed to happen. He and I watch the Atlanta Falcons play weekly. So, I had told my wife that I was going to have this discussion with him, on this one specific sunday. Well, my son obviously wanted to have a discussion as well, but his approach was a little different than mine. On the friday prior to the football game he presented a movie/short clip in his world literature class. This presentation prompted the teacher to call my son’s mother (not my wife, but his mom). I then started getting the phone calls, I talked with his mom (who was furious), the teacher (who was empathetic) and my wife (who initially was not happy, but came full circle in this topic of discussion). When school let out, I called my son and told him that he was going to have a confrontation when he arrived to his mom’s house. You see, his presentation let everybody know that he has smoked ‘weed.’ I had the suspicion and that was going to be the topic of conversation for the football game, but he beat me to the punch.

    About an hour after he arrived at his mother’s house I got a phone call to come over. When I arrived they were screaming at each other. His mother had slapped him and tackled him on the bed. She had told him that only idiots smoke ‘pot’ and that you would grow man boobs. She wanted to know who was dealing the drugs. Who was smoking it, so she could tell their parents. She was going ballistic, enough so that she told him that he was a piece of shit. She also made him PROMISE that he would never smoke pot again. He final said ,”I Promise.” He came home with me that evening. We didn’t discuss until sunday at the football game. For four hours we had one of the best conversations that any child and parent could have. Part parenting and part friends.

    My approach went like this. First, I realized when I spoke with his teacher that he needed to talk to somebody. Whether it was me or somebody else, he needed to talk. He needed to talk as an adult and be able to express himself openly and be honest. That is exactly what we did. You all need to know that I have smoked and understand the harmless side of it, but a 16 year old doesn’t understand all the implications that come along with making these choices that he and his friends are making. We have to remember that teenagers start going to parties, they are exposed to drinking, smoking, sex and other things. He knows that I know this because during our discussion I told him about some of my experiences. Most of us have been exposed to what our teenagers are starting to experience. I asked him if he was going to keep the promise he made to his mom. I knew what the answer was, and of course, it was NO. What he needed to hear and continues to hear are the issues and risks of his choices. I told him, if marijuana was legal, you would still have to be 21 to legally have it. You are only 16 and if you get in trouble, then you pay the price. One reason he knows this is because he had his learner’s permit for only one day and hit a school bus. He had to go to court, he received community service and was on probation. He already has a strike on his record….do you want anymore? Let’s talk about choices son.

    The choices we discussed were about sex, drinking and driving, drugs, etc. If you and your friends are going to start making these choices, instill good ideals with these choices. 1. If you are in an uncompromising situation, pick up the phone and call us to come get you. No questions asked (at least not then). You did the right thing by calling us. Also, send us a few txts a night to let us know your game plan or where you heading to. We need to know in case of an emergency.
    Have a designated driver. You and your friends are making these choices at parties, so make the right choice and take turns having a designated driver. Why do this, son? Because if any of you get hurt or hurt somebody else by making the wrong choice your path for your future has now shifted. Our preference is for you all to walk, but we know that you all won’t follow this on a regular basis.
    Show respect for those around you. Not everybody wants to participate in other’s activities. Respect that! Especially in woman. If a woman says NO, then it is NO. Be a man and respect that. This was where the discussion of sex occurred and continues. Respect, respect, respect. (This is also where we chatted about condoms, HIV, STDs, etc.)
    Be observant. You may have to take care of somebody. Are you and your friends going to be able to help one another if you all are making improper decisions one night? What if you are in a bad situation that you need to get out of quickly?
    There’s more….

    For all these points and all the other one’s discussed, my son shared his stories and told me what he has done and what other friends have been doing. Yes, a lot of it was a little shocking, but we have a open and honest relationship about these matters. I feel comfortable to bring up these subjects, because he feels he can talk to me about them. I literally could keep writing about this topic because when he opened up it was like the flood gates were lifted. You would be amazed at what these high schoolers are doing. At the end of the day, they are all still good kids, making good grades, getting started with their college phase of life, playing sports, getting into relationships and having a good time. Be open with them and hopefully in return they will be open with you.

    • @Erykf That is great advice, and thanks so much for sharing. I also agree that being open and nonjudgmental is the only way to help kids make good choices and transition into adulthood. Funny, too, how your mom approached teaching you and your sister. Also, wanted to mention that when I read the following sentence you wrote, I thought about how some (not all) of the religious try to convince us even after we say ‘no, thanks.’ “Show respect for those around you. Not everybody wants to participate in other’s activities. Respect that! Especially in woman. If a woman says NO, then it is NO.”

  27. Here are some thoughts and some more topics that I have discussed with my son. These are specific to sex. I hope I do not offend anyone and please note that I feel a little awkward sharing these. Here it goes.

    (i’m going to have the condom olympics with my wife)

    Condoms can break. It can be old, thus resulting in a less reliable contraceptive device. Keep your supply up to date. Condoms can also break if it is too small. Some folks may need to purchase a larger product. In addition, some may need a smaller product, because they can slip off, too. Either scenario can lead to a less reliable condom.

    It doesn’t matter if a woman is using a contraception device use a condom and pull out when you need to ejaculate. It is better to make a mess than get into a mess. If two men are having sex, they must wear a condom, rectal bleeding is one of the biggest conduits for contracting HIV.

    Master-bating: It is okay to master-bate. All men do it, don’t believe them if they tell you otherwise. If you are in a relationship (I used college in this example) and you all have decided to not have sex and you want to and she doesn’t…..go master-bate. That is what the cold shower is.

    Porn: I have seen the porn industry transform since the 70’s. It is amazing what everybody can see today thanks to modern technology. If you can think of it, it’s already on the internet. Just because you can find people performing interesting sexual acts on the internet, does not mean that everybody does it. Porn is an industry and business, they make money from it. Regular, everyday people, vary in what they like sexually, but it doesn’t mean they are porn stars. Back to respect….

    Like I said these are some topics I have talked to my son about. I’m pretty straight forward when I say stuff sometimes. Again, this is not meant to offend anyone.

    • @erykf That took some guts to write. I understand because it is uncomfortable for me to write and put things out there, too. But, raising kids outside of religion, it is important that we address this issue. These were great points, and I will talk with my older son about the first two points because he is going off to college next year. (I have actually talked with my sons about masturbation–and our pediatrician did, too–when my boys were in middle school.) It’s important for boys. As for the porno, I told my kids it is demeaning to women, but in reality, as they get older, especially when they are single, they may turn to that, and I think that’s ok. If they are in a relationship, then they need to make sure their partner is ok with that.

    • @erykf And, I also meant to say, but you probably already know by now…thanks for sharing that.

  28. So the story goes that Adam and Eve have children – their children somehow meet a wandering tribe (which came from where the bible never bothers to say). Having spent many years growing up in a catholic family, the cult nature of the church is ridiculous. To this day, it is incredulous how anyone who thinks rationally and knows the basics of science can really believe in the craziness that is organized religion.

  29. I love what you said about sex not being something to be given or taken but something to be shared by both genders. I could not agree more. I hate how so many religious people make sex out to be something bad when really it is something wonderful. It just needs to be in the proper context, as you mentioned. And, no, that context does not HAVE to be marriage as so many religious people assert. But it does need to be w/ someone special and w/ both partners understanding the risks (in other words 13 year olds are NOT ready for sex, no matter how much they might think they are). Great post!

  30. Religion has a way of sucking the fun out of everything.

  31. I think it was in the early 90’s when conservative James Dobson said that masturbation was healthy for men because it relieves stress, I don’t remember if he addressed women or not in his findings. I think masturbation is empowering for women, now you know what helped me so much during my single years! It shows us what we like and what we don’t like. It helped me to gently guide my husband until he quickly caught on. Once in a great while he needs a refresher course, but sometimes it’s just because I want to change things up a bit.
    Regarding birth control, we pretty much got pregnant intentionally both times. I was pregnant by the end of the first week of marriage because we used nothing. The month before we married I was three days early and that has NEVER happened before or since. I had figured out my cycle and knew I would get pregnant, but with us starting later in life I was okay with that. In between the boys I had the IUD, Paragard, and I hated it! It was non hormonal and made of copper. My monthly periods went from a week pre IUD to one and a half weeks long, and they became heavier. After having it for two years I had a period that lasted for weeks, and went to the doctor to get rid of it that summer. In my true fertile form, I was pregnant by the end of the season. That is a big benefit of a non-hormonal IUD, it’s effective birth control immediately upon insertion, and there is nothing, chemical or otherwise, left behind to prevent pregnancy once it is removed. During the scheduled c-section of my second birth (After a rough 23 hour labor that ended up in surgery with my first one, I felt that this was the way to go.) I had a tubal ligation, and could feel pinching, pulling, and shoving as I had it done. The next day a sweet, young nurse told me something that I don’t think she was suppose to, that I was just about in need of a transfusion during my surgery. I should have known something was up because I was bleeding vaginally non stop, going through countless pads for hours. It stopped, but a few months later when my cycles started again I noticed that they were worse than my IUD ones! After going from doctor to doctor with heavy periods of three to four weeks a month, my second child was over two years old before I got the help I needed. I was put on a daily birth control pill that almost immediately removed the cysts in my ovaries.
    As far as condoms are concerned, we used them two times between the birth of our first child and the IUD. Yeah, we weren’t going to do that again. I know that it’s very important to follow directions carefully when using one, and most definitely, use lubrication. Condoms are manufactured in a temperature controlled environment, and can become defective if not stored in a cool, dry place.

    • @Chope With all the issues you described, deciding which birth control to use is overwhelming…I’ve even talked to my oldest about getting a blood test if he ever decides to take a relationship a step further–to protect both parties from std’s.

  32. Hey Deborah, that is why I’m glad that I waited to have sex until marriage in my thirties because my childhood and teens were hell. I needed every second of my twenties to mend and heal from my mom, dad, and bible college (CFNI in Dallas, it was much more strict and rigid twenty years ago). I couldn’t imagine making big decisions about birth control or raising a child in that state of mind as I went through the muck. It was also nice to have a life partner to help me make those choices, and to support me consistently while I was going through it. As you’ve seen, sometimes we made the right choice, sometimes we didn’t. In life you’re not always going to know what choice to make until after you’ve made a wrong one.
    I don’t think it will be too difficult to talk to my children about birth control because like you and others who have commented I have had little talks along the way with my little boys. My oldest knows what mensturation is, and both my boys will tell you that girls have vaginas, and boys have penises. That’s not exactly how mommies train their little ones to talk here in southwest Tennessee with Arkansas immediately west of us, and Mississippi just below us. I don’t care, because I love my children I cuddle them, read to them, set boundaries, and equip them with knowledge to face whatever may come their way. I actually take the whole predator talk with them a step further than what parents are told to. I found out a few months ago that we have a registered sex offender just three doors down! I didn’t want to judge him, so I researched a little bit. Not only is it true, but it’s not over something like a parent reporting him because he’s just a couple of years older than their daughter he’s having sex with. This guy is older than me, and the incident that he’s charged with happened a few years ago. I have repeatedly shown my kids his picture, and where he lives when we’ve driven by, and tell them to stay away from him and his house and why. My husband takes our son to school, and I stand with him at the bus stop the mornings he takes the bus, and when he comes home I am right there waiting on him. Predators don’t start by sticking their hands or penis in a victim’s mouth, hands, anus or vagina, they start by touching an arm or shoulder. Now, not everyone who touches a child in an okay zone is going to lead to something evil, but I tell my children that if they’re in the presence of another child, teen or adult and they just don’t like being around them or they don’t like the way that person looks at them, touches them or talks to them, just leave, and stay away from them for good! I will take the fall if my kids over react and are wrong, I would rather have them be in error than fall prey to a disturbed individual.
    Deborah, thank you for being the nicest non religious person I’ve ever heard of or read about. When I first started my de-conversion I was overwhelmed by the name calling on ex- christian, and non-christian websites and articles. It took me a few months, but when I came across your article a couple of weeks ago I felt so relieved. I know you’re not perfect, no one is, but I feel so honored to come across a person with common sense, kindness and sanity. Thank you for all that you sacrifice, discover and research so that you may be a better non-religious mom, and person as a whole. Thanks for indulging me, and I thank your readers for their great insights, and encouragement. After all, no matter our faith or lack thereof, we’re all just human beings trying to figure it all out.

    • @Chope That is a great point–child predators start by getting kids to trust them. They don’t just start molesting them, so kids have to be aware. I don’t think you’ve over-reacted at all–I’d do the same thing. When my children were younger, I used to worry because there are people out there that might not have a record, who haven’t been caught yet. I didn’t leave my kids with anyone–not coaches or teachers or any other adults. And I’d check out their backgrounds myself.

      YOU are very nice and have contributed so much to these conversations. We all learn from each other.

      I don’t know that my kids would agree that I’m kind and sane. Haha (I don’t feel very sane today as my younger kid broke his hand yesterday, so we’ve been all day at doctor’s offices!) But I am really grateful to know that there are people like you out there.

  33. I have talked to my 9-year-old about drugs, alcohol, the dangers of the internet (higher level), and puberty, but have not geared myself up for the sex talk yet (she knows where babies exit from, not how they get there in the first place). I do agree as some others have said that it should be talks, not talk, but I am just not there yet, partly because I want her to keep some innocence for a little while longer, and partly because I am a little uncomfortable about it. Reading what others do/have done helps some. I have some differing views from the Catholic Church, and because my kid goes to Catholic school this will cause some issues, no doubt.

  34. Aw, hope your son is doing well, and is healing just fine. Wishing nothing but the best for you both.

  35. Facie, you sound like a great mom, you’ve taught your daughter quite a bit already.

  36. So, at the beginning of the post you say Christians have messed up sex but by the end you say they have it right……….God really has you thinking, doesn’t He?! Most people opposed to God don’t talk about it like you do. Haha, you can run but you can’t hide. God loves you and it patient, not willing for you to perish…….I suggest you stop running from Him and accept that Jesus is real and that He did die for you. You will find a love that you cannot even imagine.

    • @tk At the beginning of the post I do say Christians have messed up sex, and by the end of the post, I still think they have messed up sex, although they did get some things right. No one/no thing is ever all good or all bad. And, this is what many people don’t understand: I’m not OPPOSED to god. If god works for you, that is great. I just don’t believe in a god. As for Jesus, I do accept that he was a real, live guy–not divine, but real. And he had some good examples to set.

      But I’ve found love–real love that is better than I ever could have imagined–right here on this planet with the people I love and those who love me.

  37. “…sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”

    xD

    • @lancethruster You have a great sense of humor, too. Now. If every American, regardless of their beliefs, would have a bigger and better sense of humor….haha….we probably would never get any work done!

  38. @dam – My boss certainly thinks so.

  39. As a father of a one and a half year old son, I am a few years from beginning talks with him on this subject. But, I think it is important to note in the discussion that the first two things God (ie. the Christian God as described in the Old and New Testament) told mankind to do were essentially “to eat and have sex”. So, any idea of God being a cosmic killjoy is a misunderstanding of Christian theology and the Bible. One just has to read and study the Scriptures to see that sex within the proper framework (ie. a loving, intimate, lifelong commitment between a husband and wife) is celebrated. “Take pleasure in the wife of your youth…let her breasts always satisfy you; be lost in her love forever” (Proverbs 5:18-19) and Song of Songs are a couple of examples. Scripture only speaks against sex outside of marriage.

    And this, the restriction of sex within marriage, is where the consternation lies. However, God implementing the institution of marriage as the proper context in which to have sex because of His understanding that sex, as you put it, “is emotionally costly and physically risky”, was a very reasonable and good thing for Him to do. God just leaving it at “eat and have sex” would have been very unloving and unwise. Having knowledge, wisdom and experience that we do not have, God set boundaries for us to set us up to experience sex at its best. This is what those of us here on this blog that are parents are striving to do, and learning how to do, for our children not just in the area of sex but in every area of their lives. So, if it is ok for parents to set loving and reasonable boundaries upon their children should it not be the same for God to set loving and reasonable boundaries on us?

    Finally, when you engage with those claiming to be Christians that say that sex is bad and dirty do you question them on what they mean by that? If they do not provide you with the above response be reluctanct to gain knowledge and understanding of Christian theology and doctrine from them.

    • @Chasen I agree-there are many positive examples of physical relationships in the Bible, such as the Song of Solomon. It’s not the Bible that is the problem–it’s the way some of the Christians (esp. the Puritans) have created this dichotomy of good/bad.

  40. @dam: I respectfully disagree. While there are a few passages in the Bible that can be interpreted as beautiful love poetry, the rest is definitely not. I stand firm in claiming that the entire concept of religion is based somewhat on owning and controlling women. Women are seen as property that CAN be bartered with, the sexuality of a woman is an abhorrence to the patriarchs and denying such natural acts as masturbation have caused endless grievance.

    I cannot even say that the xian ideal of marriage to which both parties (or at least the female) attend pure is all good. It can work for some but not for all and it definitely is not a 100% solution. One can only imagine the amount of anguish suffered by the pious men or women who have not been able to find a spouse or live in an abusive marriage.

  41. If you haven’t, you should read Kinsey’s sex studies. They will blow your mind wide open about how ridiculous we Americans are about sex.

  42. well the sex talk in my southern baptist house growing up went like this: “God created one man and one woman to be together and to procreate. They do so by becoming one with themselves and god, and with his blessing a baby is made. Oh btws here is a ring that you should wear that proves to everyone else that you will not have sex until you are married.” (even though when that was talked about in the bible, people were waiting about 2-5 years after begining puberty to get married to do the dirty deed. now people are waiting over a decade).

    I have no clue how it would go in a household where logic is present.

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