Conversations With Kids: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
In this day and age, airwaves, TV and web videos are filled with the glorification of reckless behavior. The message these images project to children is nothing short of self-destruction. Regardless of how closely parents keep watch, portrayals of excessive alcohol and drug consumption resulting in acts of casual sex are a mainstay in mainstream entertainment from the movies and music to reality shows and primetime commercial spots. No matter how hard you may try to avoid your children being exposed to sexual content prematurely, sadly, it’s an inevitable reality. So how does a concerned parent navigate through a healthy explanation of what should be a beautifully intimate sharing of affection that is often depicted perversely and careless?
I can vividly recall the first talk about sex with my son at the very young and impressionable age of four. I had just picked him up from Pre-K and we began our usual six block stroll home. I particularly enjoyed our daily walks because it was our time to talk about his day, what he learned, nap and story time and poignant chatter about the meaning of life from the perspective a non-jaded innocent. On this day, however, my chatterbox child was unusually quiet and obviously perplexed. After two blocks of silence and short answers I asked what was on his mind and reminded him he could and should talk to me about anything. He was apprehensive about telling me, but a little focused eye contact and tighter tug towards me was all he needed, “Mom, I had sex today” he told me as he looked up to me with fear and confusion.
It took all I had in me not to panic as I composed myself to be the rational adult in this situation. My first thought was to dismiss it until we got home so I could figure out a way to have this dialogue. However, the last thing I wanted was for him to feel as though his concerns were not addressed – even for a moment. So I’m now on auto-pilot – we stopped walking and I found the nearest park bench where we could sit so he’d know he had my full attention. “What do you mean you had sex? Tell me what happened.” He went on to explain that one of his classmates accosted him by the cubby corner and she suggested they should have sex. His response was age appropriate, “what’s sex?” Her response however, left him feeling violated and me feeling empathy for what this little girl had been exposed to to learn this kind of behavior. “She told me it’s when you take your clothes off, rub bodies and make funny noises and she pushed her body and me and started doing this,” he simulated the way she moaned and rapidly caressed his back and shoulders before the teachers called them back to the story circle.
I asked a series of questions related to his private area and he assured me that no one had ever touched him and that he wasn’t encouraged or forced to touch anyone elses “no no” spots.
“Sweetheart, let me be clear. You did not have sex today,” I told him. I watched the burden literally lift itself from his little body.
“I didn’t? Are you sure?” I swore to him that he had not had sex of any kind but what his classmate proposed to him was extremely inappropriate and reiterated our “no touch” policy of his private parts. We resumed our trek home and my chatterbox child was back to life as if nothing had ever happened. Meanwhile, I’m contemplating on how the conversation I plan to demand with the little girl’s mother will pan out because the two of us have a problem.
While I was immensely relieved that my son wasn’t a victim of my worst fear – child molestation – I was equally saddened by the fact that this experience was his introduction to subject matter that his father and I were sure we would be the first to initiate at a much later time.
After the lights went out for the night and I tucked my little man in, I reflected on the conversation that completely rocked my world but was sure of the certainty that wasn’t a one-time deal. Our discussion on the topic of sex isn’t over, in fact, we’ve only just begun.
Now that years have passed and my son is 10-years old, he’s grown comfortable with coming to me and his Dad with questions related to sex and they are quite uncomfortable at times, no doubt. Some things I defer to his father because “I don’t have a penis, honey. Your Dad is the best person to ask about that so, off you go.”
The point is this, every family is different but in the times we live in the days of children being introduced to sex in a health class in the fifth grade are long over. So it’s best to be the sole guiding force when it comes to educating your children about the act, repercussions and dangers of sex, which in turn reinforces the moral value system of your family unit. TV, music videos, reality TV are there for one reason only – entertainment. It’s vital that we keep these millennium children on point about what’s real and it always starts at home.