Talking with Teens About Sex, Part One

For several days, in light of the disclosure that Sarah Palin’s 17 year old daughter is expecting a baby, the airwaves and print media have been full of chatter about the great difficulty of “talking to teenagers about sex.”  Apparently, there is a lot of hand-wringing and much concern about “sending the wrong message” to kids.  Some folks don’t want to “send a message” that sex before marriage is ever okay, others are worried about kids not having information about birth control.  Etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. 

So, just in case it might help anyone, here is how I talked to my daughter (referred to in these posts as ‘Suzy’ even though that isn’t her name) about sex.  It’s a (add slightly sarcastic voice here) really novel concept (end sarcastic voice) – I tried to tell her – gasp! – the truth, as I know it.  The truth as my life experience has led me to believe it exists.  Your mileage may vary. 

Part One – in which mom gives daughter a blueprint for love and marriage. 
My speech went something like this:

“Suzy, it’s a wonderful thing to be in love with a man you respect and enjoy, and being married to the right man is one of life’s great joys.  But how do you know which type of person is right for you?  This is a gradual process that starts when you’re a child.   You know that elementary school kids mostly play with their own sex, like on the playground most boys are playing with other boys and girls with girls. 
What’s that?
No, that isn’t the same as being gay.  That’s a whole different thing we can talk about later, if you want.
Anyway, it’s good to also have friends who are the other sex, in other words it’s great that you and Ben have been friends so long, and that you think Grady is funny and all that. 
This stage is where you just generally start noticing what kind of person you like to be friends with.

The next stage is around middle school, when boys and girls start spending more time together and are interested in who “likes” who and who is “going with” who, and who is asking who to the dance, and all that.   Kids still have friends of the opposite sex, but this is different – it’s romantic and might include wanting to kiss the person and all that stuff.   Okay.  Fine.  In middle school, it’s okay to do things with boys and girls both, in groups.  Not dates all by yourself, but skating parties, that kind of thing.  Or, I’ll drive you and whoever to a movie and pick you up when it’s over. 
This stage is part of discovering what boys you find attractive, what’s important to you in a boyfriend, who is nice and trustworthy, who’s boring or mean, who you think is cute.  All that.

Stage three is in high school.  By now, if you’ve had boys who are friends, and done some of the note-passing and school dance middle-school stuff, you’re ready for real dating – you and a boy out doing something.  You can be romantic, even physical, but remember what I said – You don’t have permission to have sex before you’re eighteen. 
Simple answer, you aren’t old enough. 

Part Two will be Pregnancy and Finding Your True Love.

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