Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sex Education...

When my daughters were growing up, I knew one day we were going to have to have the “talk.” I wanted to be prepared to discuss it openly. I recall when I asked my mother about sex. I must have been about 12 or 13 years old at the time. My mother, at 50 years old, was two generations older than I was and not anxious to discuss this topic. When I approached her about it, she said, “wait here,” rummaged through her drawers and pulled out two pamphlets she got from Ann Landers. “Here, read these, and if you have any questions you can ask me,” she said. I read the pamphlets and had lots of questions. My mother was not well versed with the anatomically correct vocabulary and I could see she was uncomfortable. She tried to answer my questions and I am sure she was relieved when it was over. Of course, I also got a few lessons in health class, but that wasn’t till high school. I don’t think anyone in class took it very seriously.

One day I was talking to a woman in the schoolyard of my older daughter’s school. She informed me that the kids were going to have classes in sex education later in the year. This was fifth grade and my daughter was only 10. I was a little upset because I hadn’t plan on having the “talk” quite so early, and at the same time I was thankful that the woman had given me a heads up on this so I could pick a good time to discuss this with my daughter. I wanted her to get her information from me first, be able to ask her questions, and understand what was being discussed at school without hearing it for the first time. So I decided to wait for a long weekend so they we could discuss it and she could process it.

My older daughter sat and listened to everything and had a million questions, as usual. Always inquisitive and a sponge for information. It didn’t phase her in the least. I managed to explain that she was not to go around talking about this to her classmates because their parents should be the ones to tell them. I told her if she had any questions at all, about what we discussed or what she might hear from her friends or in class, she should come to me because there is a lot of misinformation out there. And, let me tell you, she continued to asked questions for quite a while after the “talk.”

One day we were visiting my in-laws and we decided to run an errand while the girls stayed behind. My mother in-law was very conservative and proper, mild and meek. So, when my 10 year old went up to her and asked, “What is a prostitute?,” while we were out on an errand, I can only imagine her reaction. She could not wait for us to get back and then she pulled me aside to tell me about my daughter’s question and that she didn’t know what to say. I had to tell her we had the birds and the bees talk and ever since she has had questions nonstop about it. I took my daughter aside and told her I would answer her question.
There was a very good program on PBS which discussed the topic thoroughly. I had taped it and saved it for the occasion. I watched it with my daughter. All her questions were eventually answered and she was satisfied. By the time they discussed it in school, she was well informed.

I’m not sure if I wanted her to learn about it in school because it was something I could handle myself. But I thought about how I learned about it, about how many parents would never get around to discussing it, about how I could not stop the school from teaching it and her classmates might be talking about it, and realized I had to go along with it. They picked the time for me by inserting it into the 5th grade curriculum. Maybe ten or eleven is the best time to bring up the subject. Kids are more open to listening before their teenage years and actually still think parents know something. It seems wise to me to inform them while they are young and before hormones kick in, so they can process all they need to know.

P.S. All kids are different. I followed the same exact plan for my younger daughter because they were going to teach it in 5th grade…she never asked me one single question and she couldn’t wait for me to stop bringing it up!

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