I was recently asked what I’ve had to say about sex when talking with my kids. Not much so far. They’re not that old yet. Getting there, though. River has had more opportunity than I have. She’s gone well beyond answering the questions I had as a 4-year old. Not that I haven’t offered. And when the time comes, I want to listen as well as talk, because I tend to talk too much.
Maybe the time won’t ever come, but I don’t want things for my kids to be like they were for me. When I was maybe four I remember asking my mom if a woman could have a baby if she wasn’t married. “I guess that could happen.” Things didn’t go much further than that. I was left wondering how a woman’s body knew she was married so it could make a baby. And how the baby could end up looking like both the wife and the husband. My parents never did fill in that particular blank for me. The only other thing that was said on the subject, when I was a teenager, was some vagary about “sharing my body” with somebody.
Somehow I got the impression that sex was not something good boys and girls did, and that if I wanted a good girl, which I did, I would have to be a good boy. This despite all the popular culture to the contrary. I wasn’t quite tuned in, I guess.
So I was good, except for falling into bed with, then living with, a girl. She wasn’t a good girl, and I didn’t care. Just like a girl wouldn’t have cared whether I was a good boy. Some years later we got married and, some more years later, divorced. I didn’t know any better. She did, and why she didn’t blow me off early on is a mystery, especially since I found out after we were divorced that she’d cheated on me before we were married.
So, what might I tell my kids about sex?
- Know the risks and responsibilities (this needs some elaboration). Showing some signs of responsibility by moving out first sounds good, but is probably too hopeful on my part.
- It’s something boys and girls do.
- Girls like it as much as boys.
- For some reason it’s got a whole pile of baggage and non-openness (even I’m not completely open). I wish it were more like being rock climbing partners or something.
- It may or may not be mixed up with love and/or relationships.
- But it’s a nice way to top off a loving relationship.
- Relationships are ephemeral.
- Fuck first ask questions later is fine.
- But River and I are glad we fell in love the old-fashioned way.
- Don’t marry your first girlfriend.
- No means no
And how could I forget:
- Pay attention, ask questions, and be enthusiastic.
- Give feedback.
- Ask for what you want.