Thursday, October 01, 2009

How This Single Mom Talked to Her Son About the Birds and the Bees

*This post is for my friends, and for all those single moms out there who are getting ready to have to talk about sex with their sons. I don't know anything about talking sex with little girls; I do know it was awfully hard to talk about it with my son, but necessary! When having the talk, just take a deep breath and dive right in. If you worry and wonder what to say, then you'll delay the talk. And by the time you get around to it, your son will have already heard a bunch of misinformation from friends and siblings of friends, or even get the wrong idea from TV. BE WARNED: THERE IS SOME VERY FRANK TALK IN THIS POST!!!!

A while back, I had "the talk" with my son. My son being my son, he asked questions, and things got a lot more specific than I was necessarily comfortable with, but I took a deep breath and talked about it anyway, because there's no one else to do it. At least, no one else I trust to tell him about "things" in an appropriate manner. When people discover I am a single mom, and put two and two together about where my son is on the "puberty" scale, they get a sympathetic yet horrified look on their faces, then ask - just how do you have "the talk." The answer is, quite frankly.

His middle school is getting ready to have a six-week long sexuality and maturity class. They've been talking about it at school, sending notes home for parents to sign giving permission for students to participate, etc. So, the other night, J asked me some more questions about sex. Again, not the favorite subject of this single mama to have with her pre-adolescent son, but I did it anyway. I talked frankly and openly with him because I want him to make the right decisions, and for him to have all of the facts.

This meant that I stressed to him that yes, sex feels really good when done right. But I also stressed that sex isn't just a physical thing, that it involves your emotions; when you have sex with someone that you don't really love, it can really mess with your head and your heart. I also stressed that there are many types of love (from friend-type love, to sisterly-love, to puppy love, to I wanna marry you and be with you forever love), and that - when you are a teenager with hormones raging and erections happening at the drop of the hat - you don't know what the right kind of love is; your body is raring and ready to go and thinks lust will do just fine. It won't. Once you have sex for the first time, you can never get your innocence back again. It changes how you see the whole world. This is something special that should be shared with the person you want to marry and spend the rest of your life with, not just any girl who hapens to be nearby when the urge strikes.

I also stressed that there are all kinds of consequences of having sex. At this point, he chimed in with "I know. You could make a baby." But it isn't just that. I explained in great detail how having sex before your mind and emotions are ready for that kind of shift in thinking can make you feel bad about yourself, or make you do stupid things to be with the girls that will let you have sex with them. I explained that his body may be waking up and starting to mature, but that his emotions haven't, and probably won't be until after the hormones have finished going crazy in his body. It's best, I said, to wait until the emotions and the physique are somewhat on the same level before having sex, so that you know how to handle it, both mentally and physically.

I also explained that if you have sex with just anybody, you could get a disease, and explained all the different kinds of diseases one can get from having sex - from diseases that can make you go crazy, to ones that put blisters all over your privates, to ones that kill you by killing off your immune system. I also mentioned that there are more ways to get diseases than just penis/vagina interactions. I mentioned that anytime a private part gets close enough to any other part of someone else's body that they touch, a disease can spread. And yes, he looked at me quizzically, so I had to explain a little bit more than I would have originally liked to.

I then told him that there are tests you can get taken at the doctor's office to make sure you don't have any of these diseases, and that - before anyone has sex - BOTH people need to have those tests done before they do anything so that they both know they are healthy and won't make each other sick. Even if both people say they have never had sex before, both need to be tested. The reason? Like "House" says, "EVERYBODY LIES." I explained how when he's young and hormones are going crazy, he may not remember to get that test done, and would need parental permission (I didn't mention that I wasn't 100% sure of this part) to have such a test done anyway, so it's best to just wait until you are a grown up and have found the woman you want to marry before requesting the tests. Then you get married, and then you can do what you've been wanting to do.

Of course, I also explained that - even if both people somehow manage to get the test done, even if birth control and/or a condom is used - there is still a chance that the girl could get pregnant. I asked J if he wanted to be trying to raise a baby when he is still a kid himself... Did he want to be changing diapers when he'd rather be changing clothes getting ready to go out with his friends?... Did he want to be spending what little bit of money he has on baby formula instead of on a new computer program he wants?... I explained that, while he was wonderful and I have loved every minute (okay, give me some parental license to stretch the truth here) of being his mother, if I had been a teenager, I couldn't have been a good mom to him.

Granted, this was a lot longer of a conversation than I wanted to have with him at this point in time on this subject, but I wanted to make sure he heard it from me, straight out, in an honest (mostly) and frank manner. The more questions he asked, the more details I gave. I was not trying to scare him out of having sex ever, but instead wanted to impress upon him that sex is not all sunshine and roses. There are real decisions to be made, and real consequences involved. Initially, it made me a bit uncomfortable, but the more I talked, the less I was thinking about how this conversation made me feel, and the more I concentrated on being able to give him the information in a way he could understand.

Some may criticize the fact that I had this conversation with an 11 year old. However, kids are starting younger and younger these days. There are now monitors posted in the bathrooms at the middle schools because they were catching kids having oral sex and actual intercourse in the bathrooms - and it isn't just here, it's EVERY WHERE! They have to separate the grade levels into separate bathrooms because of older kids holding down and forcing younger kids to touch their genitalia and worse. As much as I would love for my son to not know anything about or even think about sex until he goes to college, that is an unrealistic expectation. So I would rather he hear it from me than from a friend's older sibling (who may or may not give the proper information), or from some older kid putting his hands on J.

So, single moms, or married moms whose husbands are deployed or working in other countries or whatever, that's how I talked to my kid about sex. I hope this helps you in some way when it's your turn to have this talk with your kid(s).


ann said...

That is so scary about what's happening in the schools.

You rock! Way to be brave and see beyond yourself to your child's needs!

Suze said...

I think you are amazing and you did just the right thing. He absolutely needs to hear this now because you're right. Sex is everywhere and people are doing it way too young. He needs to hear this from YOU, not someone in the locker room or someone else's parents or....

I know people say kids are having sex younger and younger these days, but I remember pregnant girls in my own middle school.

I should print this post and save it for when my kids are in middle school.

Jessi said...

Good job. I dread this like the plague. We had our first "talk" before Brynna started preschool, which just blew some people's minds, but if they are out of your control, they can be abused. I found that out the hard way when Brynna was physically and verbally abused in daycare and I wanted her to be safe. We'll continue to talk and add in details a little at a time, but it is so scary to talk to your kids. You worry that you are giving too much info too soon. But, I think too much info is better than not enough.

Anonymous said...

My hat is off to you! Eleven is not at all too early to hear about sex. And it's good (if not rare) to hear it from a parent. I learned from dirty jokes and biology books, if you can believe. I think you're brave.
Mrs. G.

AnnaMarie said...

Good for you! Open and honest! I'm sure it was sooooo difficult, but!

Anonymous said...

p.s. My grandfather told me that you were supposed to find out about sex when you were married, not before.
Mrs. G.

Anonymous said...

11 is so not too young to talk about sex. Jim had the initial talk with Evan at 8. It is OUR responsibility to talk to them about not only the "plumbing lesson" but the emotional aspect and to pass on our values.

(Tara, posting as anonymous because Evan's logged in and I was too lazy to switch to my own g account!)

Steph said...

Just adding my voice to the chorus...eleven is definitely not too young! Good work!

Lydia said...

I commend you for having the talk with Jamie and for doing it now instead of later. Unfortunately, in today's world kids ARE starting younger and younger or at least hearing about it younger. It is so important for us, the parents, to be the ones to teach our children to be responsible and make godly decisions. You go, girl! Way to be brave!