Yow, am I tired today. It was a long weekend, full of the demands of teenagers. I’m feeling overly emotional and a tiny bit rundown, and I’m hoping it’s only because of a wee bit of stress and that I’m NOT getting the cold that my middle daughter is home from school with today.

So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what we teach our children about sex in this country. Mostly because I have a precocious middle daughter who has a boyfriend she’s highly attracted to, and she often asks me questions about sex. It’s my belief that if she 1. had a private place to do it and 2. had no worries about STDs or pregnancy, she might have already become sexually active. To my knowledge, she’s not, but then parents always think they know what their kids are up to and they aren’t always right.

With all of the questions has come a good deal of thought about exactly WHY it’s so hard to talk to ones children about sex. One of the most helpful things to me actually came from a marriage counselor I saw years ago, and it’s simple: are you acting out of fear or love? So I tried to examine why I was so damn scared every time these conversations came up. Of course like any parent, my fears are threefold: 1. fear of her getting hurt emotionally 2. fear of STDs 3. fear of pregnancy. But then as I thought about it more and more over the weekend, I came up with the huge unsaid one lurking in the back of my mind. 4. if I say the wrong thing, and something bad happens, will I be judged as a bad parent? And not just by others, but by myself.

I know there is no way to tell her everything she needs to know – some things can only be learned by personal experience, and the emotional nuances of sex definitely fall into that category. I tell her that she may think she’s prepared, but it’s impossible to know what you’re going to feel like about things after. You can only guess, and hope that you’re right. I can tell her about condoms and birth control pills, and that despite what most of her peers believe, that oral sex is not completely without STD risk. And I can tell her that just because I want her to be informed, that doesn’t mean I am condoning anything. Oh, and the other biggie that I thought she should know: that women are equally deserving of pleasure, and if she is ever with someone who doesn’t care about hers then they are NOT the right person.

Other parents I know who have teenage daughters think I’m doing it all wrong. Maybe not all of them, but I definitely live in a “teach abstinence” community, or so it feels at times. But I know that isn’t the teenage reality, and that sticking my head in the sand would be for ME, not for them. And why, so I could have deniability that it had been “my fault” if something bad happened?
It’s hard being a parent.

~Jane

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