I am waiting for Z to start asking about s e x. She hasn't yet, and we've mostly darted around the edges of it when answering the usual "How did the baby get in her tummy?" type questions. But I know that one day she will be interested in more details or she'll hear something from a friend, and I'll need to be ready.
I think we've started off well: the girls have been taught the anatomically correct words for their body parts ("labia" and "vulva" are regularly uttered words in our house) and we model respect for our own bodies and the bodies of other people. We carefully screen TV and movies for age appropriateness and are going to fight the early sexualization of girls in our culture with everything we've got.
I am hopeful that Z and E will ask me questions about their bodies and sex but, to be honest, I'm also a little scared about it. It is such a sensitive and important topic, I am terrified to mess it up. I want our girls to be safe AND empowered. What's a liberal-minded but over-protective mom to do?
As hard as it is to imagine this, our girls will one day be sexually active. In this world of sexting and instagram-beauty pageants, I am trying really hard to not be scared about that fact.
As I always do when I'm scared or confused, I am turning to books as my salvation. I have ordered some age appropriate books about sex for younger kids and will use them to prop me up when the time comes.
And, I admit, I'm hoping that time doesn't come for a little while longer.
Have you had a sex talk with your kids? If not, how are you preparing for it?
Once upon a time, there was a young woman who liked to talk about s e x. Not only did she like to talk about it but she had a gift for it; she was knowledgeable, sympathetic and had a way of making even a clueless but hopeful college friend feel comfortable asking all kinds of embarrassing questions.
This woman was the go-to gal for not only the how and when and what questions about s e x but also the why and why not ones. She valued sex as a continuum of special, intimate acts to be enjoyed fully, intelligently and respectfully. Helping you make the best choices for you, from your moral center, point of comfort and burgeoning identity, was her hallmark.
She was so passionate about this topic, she not only got a master's degree in it but also wrote a book on it to help other young clueless but hopeful people live happily ever after with an empowered sense of their own sexuality.
I was so fortunate to have Bronwen Pardes as a friend when I was a college student. I hope that when my children are older, they will not only talk to us but also have similarly wise, supportive friends. Since I cannot guarantee this, I have two copies of Bronwen's book on our shelves, just waiting for teenage Z and E to turn to instead.
And now, you can too!
In celebration of her birthday today (Happy Birthday Bronwen!), I will give away three copies of Bronwen's empowering, fact-based book for teens - "Doing it Right, Making Smart, Safe, Satisfying Choices About Sex" - to three lucky commenters on this post, chosen at random. I will cut off the comments by Friday April 26th at midnight.
Please pass this along to anyone with kids who wants to help them navigate the emotionally tricky waters of sexuality. Winning commenters need not be regular readers of my blog. In fact, my hope is to spread the word about her book and get it in the hands of as many parents as possible.
We have three winners, chosen at random through random.org!
8, 3 and 12.
Shari, Kathi and Marie Green, you win! I will contacting you for your address so I can send you your book. Congrats!