My daughters are one and three, so talking about sex won’t be for awhile, but my plan is to do more than my parents did. Fortunately, that won’t be hard – nothing isn’t hard to beat. I remember when I was in university, my brother’s older, married friend made a comment about sex, and my Mom overheard – bad move. She scolded him for talking about sex in front of three young men who weren’t married (seeing my mom scold him was hilarious). It was like my parents tried to build a shelter around the shelter around the bubble wrap we were raised in because my parents were taught that going beyond holding hands or mention of anything sexual outside of marriage was a sin. In recent years my mom mentioned that she was disappointed my dad didn’t talk to my brother and I about anything to do with sex. She believed that was his role in the family, but I respectfully disagree – it’s both parents’ role; kids need both parents’ perspectives, a man and woman’s. At the same time, this lack of teaching worked out really well for me and I hold no ill will – there’s good in all things. I’m also glad I was taught nothing instead of too much (parent): “If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to be make your neighbors soundproof their house near your bedroom like your mother and I did. I was like a hyper, unneutered puppy and your mom, the woman you love, was like my favourite stuffy… but there was no wearing her out.” (Child throws up.)
When it comes to talking to your kids about sex, the first two rules to remember are the two most important rules for raising kids:
- No matter what you do, you’re going to screw up your kids in some way, so relax, be as smart as you can, and try to enjoy the ride.
- Good comes out of all situations, so no matter what you do, good will come out of it. That being said, it’s easier to find the good in good choices, so try to be wise.
When it comes to my girls, my goal will be to make them dorks. I’m their dad, so genetically they’re already going to have that bent. For Christmas, my wife bought them an accordion, so we’re already dork-ifying them, and this will continue until they’re in grade 12, which is when they’re allowed to start being cool. Until then, they’re going to be in a polka band, have braces even if they don’t need them, and if they want to live in my house, they’ll have to be obsessed with Disney like I am. I say that last one jokingly… kind of. I won’t force them to be Dis-noids, but I am a firm believer in “If you live in my house, you will follow my rules,” because it teaches reality (and I will do my best to make fair rules). Young people need to learn to respect authority and rules (at least to a point). If a cop pulls me over for speeding, I can’t be like “But officer, my friend who lives in Germany can drive as fast as he wants on the Autobahn, so why can’t I do that in Canada?” The police officer’s answer will likely be, “Because it’s Canada. If you want to speed like your friend, move there. Now here’s your ticket.” How parents treat their kids should prepare them for life; parents who enable and give their kids everything they want cripple them. No is an important word for kids to be told once in awhile; getting used to disappointment is necessary for getting through life. Can that be why there are so many kids with depression and anxiety these days, they weren’t taught how to deal with disappointment?
My love includes rules. Too many parents today are afraid of having boundaries for fear of upsetting their children or looking like a prude, but I fully embrace my prudeness because I’m more worried about raising respected and respectable women. Rules are good enough for God, so I think I’ll follow His example… although I’ll avoid sending plagues and floods to kill people.
I fully believe that sex is a gift from God that is meant to be enjoyed in a healthy way. Sexual desire is a lot like our desire to eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom – I’m so romantic. And like those gifts, there are boundaries we should follow: (person) “You mean I can’t just pee on the couch?” This also means we should appreciate sex enough to be able to joke and laugh about it in appropriate settings like with friends. Ultimately, sex is an important way to create connection with your spouse and make sure that the relationship is in a healthy spot because when married people start going a month without sex, they’re getting into danger territory that is an easy path toward affairs and/or divorce.
Sex (and kissing) teach us a lot of things. For instance, it teaches us there are repercussions for our actions (i.e. STDs, pregnancy, regret). It teaches who likes control, being controlled, or having balance. It can show who’s uptight or who’s morally loose and/or has no self control. It reminds us that we need to work on our emotional connections if we want physical connections. Sex is a wonderful gift, and like every wonderful gift, it needs to be respected. This is the message I was given to me by my parents… or the message I discovered on my own when my parents didn’t teach me anything.
Taking understanding sex to another level, I will be very clear: If you want people to respect you, you need to respect yourself. That means if you don’t respect your body, you can’t expect others to respect it. Your body is a gift and, therefore, it’s your responsibility. At the same time, we need to treat others’ bodies with the respect we want them to treat ours. Even if people don’t want to respect their own bodies and be cheap, it’s our responsibility to role model what that looks like and to show them the benefits to hopefully inspire them. This includes the idea that your privates are meant to be private. If you’re a guy, your privates are private because they’re disgusting. If a guy sends “junk” mail (pictures of their member), they are a terrible human being. If you’re a woman, your privates are meant to be private because they’re special; they have power, so respect that power. Love your body enough to limit who you share it with even when it comes to kissing. Kissing random people at parties can seem fun, but it reduces you. Hormones will make you want to do hormonal things, but hormones aren’t what make someone smart. Controlling hormones makes someone wise because no one has ever said, “My hormones helped me pass that exam,” unless the hormones motivated them to study and work hard to impress someone. You are a treasure and need to be treated as such.
How far you go before marriage is between you, your partner, and God. There is no clear line for how far you go, but it should never surpass your level of commitment (with marriage being the ultimate commitment). This is the path of the wise and self controlled, and there is a great reward for following it – my wife and I have are very proud we waited and have a firm foundation of security with each other. At the same time, I’m not blind; hormones are real. I believe in the importance of making out and being comfortable with our body with someone to a point before marriage, but I will never make it easy for my kids. Parents who let their kids have sleepovers at their house should have their parent card taken away – gross. Kids need to work at finding where and when to make out. It’s more fun that way for them, and less gross. My rule is if I don’t do in front of you, I don’t want to see you do it. If my daughters want to have sexual freedom, I will happily start doing stuff with their mom in the living room when their boyfriend is over. If they want freedom, why can’t I? And if my grossing them out doesn’t work, I will remind them the main rule – My house, my rules. If they try to sleep over at a boyfriend’s house against my will, I will be clear that they’re welcome to, but they will have their bags packed and at the front door for when they try to come home. If they want to play grownup, I will let them. It will break my heart, but I have many years to work at helping them respect me enough to hopefully never reach that point. I am a giant mush for my daughters, but I will not be a pushover. I love them too much to enable them. They need to learn that life includes rules and repercussions and it’s the parents’ job to help teach that. They may be a treasure and it’s my job to help them live as such.
To be continued…
This week may you consider what it sex means to you and what you’d want others to know.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)