ABSTINENCE OR SAFETY

We can never know for sure what our kids are going to do in the real world.  We give them advice and hope for the best.  My daughter just turned fourteen and she’s never had a REAL boyfriend.  She’s had boyfriends, but she’s not old enough to date and go out.  I know that the time will come soon when she wants to take off with some boy and all I can do is hope that she makes the right decisions.  With that in mind, I have twins who are about to turn twelve and it won’t be long enough before they are borrowing the car to take some girl out for ice cream.  Do kids still go out for ice cream?

So, with this in mind, I had one of THOSE talks with my daughter.  You know…the sex talk.   I thought about this beforehand, and I agonized over what to say and how to say it.  Then, it just hit me while we were cleaning up the kitchen.  It was just the two of us and we were chatting over the new Scream show on MTV.  One of the few things we have in common these days.  I guess if I still watch Ridiculousness and Teen Mom 2, I’m really not that old.  This was the perfect time.  I wanted this conversation to be light but meaningful at the same time.  She’s fourteen and she’s been sneaking to watch contraband t.v. shows for years now, so it’s not like she was completely in the dark.

Thinking back on my own childhood, my parents were really bad at this.  My father, always the dad, didn’t talk about it other than to say “Don’t do it!”, “You’ll ruin your life!”, and a few other phrases that were calling girls who did it not clean people.  Only married people should do it.  Of course, as he was a bachelor, it wasn’t like I did not know he and his sleepover girlfriends were engaging in adult behavior. I, like my daughter, had seen too much t.v. to not know.  In his defense, he is a dad.  My mother on the other hand, had the notion that sex was a fairy tale to be shared with only your one true love.  It should be when you are older, and it should be love.  She lived in a bubble.  I think she still floats in one somewhere.  Either way, neither of my parents were strict religious people.

So, in thinking of this moment, I pondered my father’s reasoning, my mother’s reasoning…and I didn’t really think too much on the religious aspect.  I had my first child at nineteen, so it’s safe to say that my parents methods had not worked on me.  It is not to say that they were wrong , but it didn’t work.  I took my approach, scare the child to death and use a little humor.

I told my daughter that I was not so old that I thought she would wait until marriage or that she would find her prince in the first man that she ever had sex with. However, I did tell her that it would be better when she was mature enough to know this as well.  What teenager doesn’t think that every boy is the one?  I wanted her to understand that I trusted her to make that decision to wait until she was mature.  I also explained that she would not be allowed to date for another couple of years unsupervised. I wanted her to see that it isn’t something that you have to do.  I also threw in a bit of my father’s logic.  There is nothing wrong with explaining to your child that having sex with every boy that comes around will make people call you a slut. IJS

I did take a small, small piece of my mother’s logic, but a bit less fairy tale.  I explained that there should be love, which may not always last, respect, and caring.  I told her that she should know the person that she gives herself to because she is worth receiving love, respect, and caring.  I didn’t really preach abstinence, I preached being picky.

I also preached safety.  If you are old enough to hear about sex, you should be old enough to hear about how it can ruin your life.  There is that father of mine creeping in again.  What teenager doesn’t want to hear about diseases that you have to go to a doctor and have them examine you and write you an rx for antibiotics?  It got worse, I let her know that you can get warts that never really go away.  Hey if the thought of herpes helps my kid make a smart decision, don’t judge me.  I also talked about HIV and AIDS.  It is really important to me that she is aware that there are some things that can kill you if you don’t stop to make the right choice. I want her to know that a condom can mean the difference between life and death.

We also talked about pregnancy, a very avoidable, lifelong responsibility.  I love the idea of grandchildren someday. Someday far away where i am not the one taking care of them because their parents are finishing school or don’t make enough money to support them.  Don’t get me wrong, like most parents, I would ensure that my grandchild had what they needed, but I don’t want to have to.  As parents, we want our children to live the life they want. We want them to work at a job they enjoy…as much as possible.  We want to give them the tools to do the things they want.  If babies are what they want, awesome…when they are ready!

So I guess I have officially had “the talk”…or at least the first major talk.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I did see flashes of my daughter going through my head when she was a baby, a toddler, and a child.  I realize that she isn’t anymore, but I miss those days.  I’m so proud of the young woman she is becoming…even if her room does resemble a pig pen.  I just hope that the information that I have given her helps her make those good choices.

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