Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
One of the hardest subjects to broach with your child is the topic of sex. Unfortunately, with the changes that have taken place in the world, it is not a topic that we, as parents, can afford to ignore. In fact, we have to face this subject when our children are at an earlier age than ever before.
I certainly do not proclaim to be the expert in this field. Just as all others parents do, I find that the “trial and error” method seems to be my best friend. I can, however, share with you the discussion methods that I have found to work with my own daughters and the ones that failed miserably. That is exactly what I would like to do over the next couple of months in a series entitled, “Sex: What Your Children Need to Know”.
I plan to cover such topics as: how much information should be delivered at what ages; how to deal with both sides of the gender issue when you are a single parent; how to make conversations between fathers and daughters, mothers and sons more comfortable and more productive; the importance of respect – both self-respect and respect for others – in issues regarding sex; abstinence, birth control, teen pregnancies, STDs and AIDS; and the emotional, physical, and spiritual repercussions of sexual activity.
To be honest, it seems like a monumental task to me, but I have come to realize that whether we like it or not, our sons and daughters grow up into young men and women. Part of our responsibility to them includes open and honest discussion about sexual activity, the alternatives, and the responsibilities and consequences. If we fail them in this, then we are failing them in a substantial portion of their life where there is lots of room for unprepared experimentation along with the negative ramifications of ignorance. Thus, for their well-being, we have no choice…
Our parents grew up in a world that was much more innocent than today’s world. We even grew up in much simpler times and some of us were more sheltered than was prudent. I know that in my childhood home, my mother spelled the word s-e-x. Masturbation was not something that was EVER discussed (in fact, before I knew what it was, all I knew was that it would “give you acne and make you go crazy”. NOT!) When it came time to tell my sister and I about our menstruation cycles, a little pamphlet appeared on our dresser. After my mother assumed we had read it, the pamphlet disappeared to whence it had come. Tampons were a no-no for virgins and we should never have sex (with no explanation as to what sex was) because we would get pregnant. If we got pregnant, then we shouldn’t come home, and heaven forbid that we were….(shhhhh!) gay. My sister was sixteen years old when I was pregnant with my first child (there is a six-year age difference between us). I allowed her to feel the baby kick and my mother had a conniption fit because she thought it was "dirty" that I allow my sister to touch my pregnant stomach.
Can you imagine your own daughters and sons being so ignorant in today’s world? Never! They would be victims waiting to be victimized! So, not only do we have to be prepared – for their questions, for honesty, for difficult discussions – but we have to make sure that we prepare them to be able to protect themselves – from temptations, from predators, from the ramifications of acts that they just are not mature enough to handle.
I hope that you will find something in this series that will help you discuss sex with your own children in a way that is beneficial to you both. Please, if you have suggestions or questions about anything I write – or topics that I don’t cover that you wish were – please email me at SingleParents@BellaOnline.com. I love hearing from you and when you respond to my articles, it allows me the information to better serve you. I am looking forward to learning more from you as we explore this topic.