Saturday, October 16, 2010

Milestones...."The Talk"

Well its become time for another one of those big moments in one of our children's lives....Daniel received the "Birds and Bees" talk...

This is usually one of those moments that most parents have a tough time with. Its not that we dread it, because we all want our kids to grow up with the right information so they can make the best choices possible when it comes to sex and love....but most of us didn't have parents who were o.k. enough with sexuality to tell us anything more than "don't do it till your married"....if we got anything at all. For many of us, sex education meant sixth grade sex ed class, whatever we heard on the playground, or whatever we saw in stolen moments in porn magazines. Understandably that left big gaps in our knowledge of what sex was and was not. Most of us have had to come to our understanding of this subject through our own trial and error...and made many a mistake along the way.

Jay and I determined long ago that we never wanted our children to find out about sex that way. That we would do our best to be as forthright and honest about the subject as possible within the limits of age appropriate information. We wanted them to grow up without shame and dirty feelings...but also to know sex in terms of love and with a sense of personal responsibility for their actions. We thought we were ready to tackle whatever they could throw at us...

Then it happened...The note came home from school that Daniels class would be conducting sex ed this year....Our real reaction?.....Aw crap! Can't he stay a boy just a little while longer? This is all happening too fast.

We knew our time was up....

Daniel wasn't getting any younger and we wanted to be able to talk to him before he heard it in class...or worse, from his friends at school. However, we had no idea how to do it. Whats age appropriate for a boy of ten? How far was his class sex ed program going to go? How do we talk about sexual difference and being gay? Will I be able to take it when he asks very frank and pointed questions? There were too many questions and t soon became apparent that these dads needed to be schooled in how to have "the talk".

So we read online for information. We found thousands of parents in the same boat as us, and a general consensus that having the talk with them sooner was better than later.....before they hear things like "oral sex isn't really sex" or the "everybodies doing it" meme. But no one had good information on what you do, and do not tell a ten year old. So we asked other parents many of whom had the same "deer in the headlights" look we luck there. So we continued to fret about it.

We borrowed the actual videos that they would be showing Daniel in class, to find out what exactly the school was going to cover. Those dam things must have sat on our shelf for nearly three weeks before we finally watched them. Each day we eyed them they reminding us that we could not put of the inevitable. Then, one day an event happened where we caught a friend of Daniels simulating sex on a pillow...fully dressed mind you...and no one else was in the room but him and Daniel, who thought the whole thing was funny. We did not freak out externally...but after talking to his mother about what happened we came away with an even stronger sense of urgency that we needed to have "the talk" with Daniel soon. Incidents like that one was not how we wanted him to discover what sex is.  So we took a deep breath, sat down, and popped in the video's that Daniels entire class would soon be watching whether we were ready or not.

It wasn't as bad as we thought....

However, it became instantly clear that the videos were ancient. They must have been put together in the late 80's at best...with cheesy rock and big hair. The educational content wasn't as bad as the appearance though and it was clear that that they took great pains to put the topic on a kids level. So we decided to sit down and watch these videos with Daniel, instead of previewing them separately. Then we could  answer any questions he had as they came up.

The first video covered AIDS by using baseball analogies and by turning the virus and blood cells into goofy costumed monsters. The last video covered puberty and body changes by following the stories of another classroom of children having to watch their own video on sex ed. It was pretty comprehensive about a variety of topics for both boys and girls...but stopped short at the mechanics of sex and reproduction. They didn't talk about "where babies come from" at all, which I found found odd for a "sex ed" video. I wondered whether this was done because they felt the information was not appropriate for this age level..or if they were letting the school decide on whether to go fill in the gaps...perhaps because some schools may be on the "abstinence only" plan. You never know....

Anyhow, I have to admit...I hyperventilated a little when they got in to the first graphic descriptions about erections, wet dreams and so on. I had a tiny freak out because I had been so accustomed to sheltering Daniel from here we were watching it in very frank terms. It took me a while to regain my composure. Heh...and I thought I was ready for this.

After, the video came a strange and pregnant silence...(pun intended). So we took the lead by letting Daniel know that he could always trust us with any questions he had...or about anything he see's or hears from his friends regarding sex...including the gay stuff. We let him know not to be afraid, that he will never get in trouble for asking, and we would always give him the very best information that we had. We kind of sketched out a rough idea of sex between a man and a woman and let him know that's how babies were actually come from....We went on to talk about how we don't share what we know with the younger important it is to be responsible with our sexuality and all the dangers that can come from acting irresponsibly. It was alot for all of us and when were done we hoped we had done a good job...but also knew this would not be the last time we had this talk with Daniel.

Daniel then impressed us by not freaking out and darting out of the room in his haste to escape. He asked honest and thoughtful questions...questions that let us know that he had already been hearing things and thinking about the topic And my son.....who normally does not share his innermost thoughts and feelings, opened up. He made me very proud of him in that moment with his sober attitude and thoughtfulness. It turned out to be a good father son bonding moment between the three of us. It would seem that all three of us reached a milestone that afternoon.

Daniel has now crossed a threshold that I can never make him uncross. As much as I want to, I can't keep him young forever. He's steadily becoming a young man...and that fact makes me both proud and wistfull at the same time. He now knows the facts of life...he's getting old enough for scary movies...whats next? Where is this time going?

Ah down...Just wait till Selena's in fifth grade and it's her turn for "the talk".... O-O .... *faint*


  1. Your timing couldn't be better for me personally. I'm part of the Big Brother program and I've been with my little for 2.5 years.

    Just yesterday his Mother found out he, all of 10 years of age next month and in the 4th grade, has a girlfriend. And she's in the 5th grade! And she kissed him yesterday!!

    Really?! We need to address these issues now?! He's 10! His Mom will address some issues this weekend and then next weekend it'll be my turn. I swear we had at least another year or two. Aw, man...well thanks for the heads up and the ideas. The next thud you hear will be me hitting the ground when I faint during our "talk."

  2. I remember those Sex Ed Vids! And mine too were very old! Weird ey!?

  3. @hayofray

    oh man...I am so sorry. Hahahaha....

    Yes we need to address these issues because I guaranty they are hearing it from less than "reputable" sources.

  4. Sounds like you covered all the bases. Well done.

    A good guide for measuring what is age appropriate, is to open up the dialogue, frame the conversation properly, and then see what the child / young adult says and asks. Usually I would think if they can ask the question, they are ready for an answer.

    But all children are different, and the talk you had seems to have went very well.

    I never had that talk with my parents, but they did say occasionally that I could ask them anything etc. I never felt I had that relationship with with them that you seem to have with your kids.


  5. It's great that you did this. I don't think I ever got a proper talk from my parents but fortunately I did pick up correct information and responsible behavior along the way through small comments and probably a variety of sources.

    I've taught high school electives that included considerable sex ed components and it's shocking how many kids 14-20(yeah I had quite a few students that were 20 year old 9th and 10th graders) don't know even basic information. Heck, even among my many students that had children already less than half even knew what the cervix is.

    As awkward as it may be to have "the talk", it's important for kids to grow up informed about sex, sexuality, relationships, reproduction and anatomy. The sheltering approach so many parents, especially the uber-religious, insist on(i.e. abstinence only garbage) just leads to kids that are irresponsible and/or emotionally crippled when it comes to sex.

  6. I agree with what you said above. Most kids are finding out before that talk and from less reputable sources. Way to go!

    I believe that there shouldn't just be one talk but a series of age appropriate discussions as the child grows. My kids live with their uber-religious mother during the school year, but on weekends and vacations with me I'm often flooded with questions about body parts and functions...because they know they'll get an honest answer from me.

    Sometimes that has led to portions of "the talk". They just need to know they can ask and get an answer. I've had to explain puberty and body changes to my 11 year old daughter... that's a fun one for a gay Dad...

  7. My parents, while well-intentioned people, handed me a book and told me to read it. I was mortified at all the "parts fit together" illustrations. The best things of all is when my mom asked me afterwards if I had any questions. The only thing I could think to ask her was "What is homicide?" What do you ask in the 5th grade when you're totally embarrassed and don't really understand what you're being told? Especially when it's something you've never talked about before.

    After that, sex was never mentioned again...until I was in high school. I was slyly told that if I had sex I would be doing something "wrong" and "disappointing." I was no where near ready for that, and I was already being accused of making mistakes? I had sex for the first time as a sophomore in college and I went to friends at work for advice. I'm really sorry that I couldn't have been raised in an environment where it was ok to ask questions...I was always terrified at my mother's awkward handling of the entire thing. I approached her in 7th grade about shaving my legs after weeks of torturing myself about how to confront her. I'll never forget that she was on her way downstairs to go out the door to work and when I finally got up enough courage, I said simply, "Mom, can I shave my legs?" Kids were calling me Monkey Girl at school...and she didn't say anything for a while. She just stared and then said ok. But I didn't know how to do it! So I said to her, "What do I do?" And she said this before walking down the stairs and out the door: "Use a lot of soap."

    I am glad that you are addressing this issue with honesty and integrity with your children and such good's something I feel I deserved and never received. It was such a good idea to borrow the movies from the school so that you could see what Daniel was watching before he was on his own with a classroom full of kids and a teacher. It's important that he knows from his parents that sex is not bad or shameful and that he knows from his parents, first and foremost.

    Congrats on crossing this threshold with your son and may you have many more moments of joy and celebration with him as he comes of age. Honesty and tenderness are so important when it comes to these things and it sounds like you're off to a great start. In some ways I hope I'm never a parent....I would never know how to go about this.

    I'm rooting for you.

  8. Love your posts. You are doing great and I love reading about your life! Also a fan on youtube as well.

    We hope to be where you are some day. We are trying very hard. It is quite the emotional process. You are blessed. Remember that.

  9. now i have to google birds and bees.

  10. Good job on handling it well, also, I'm very proud of Daniel for handing it well too!

  11. I have a big smile on my face right now. This blog has brought a flood of memories of the 90's and raising five foster boys.
    They were all related to each other, which made things easier in some ways, harder in others. "The Talk" was really tough with the oldest, since there was a great deal of misinformation. It did get easier by the third boy, because his brothers told him what I had told them. (Their schedule pre-empted my own), and I was always honest and open about my own life. They all saw everything but the sex. (Including a period of time when dad was doing drag for charity events.)
    One thing I did was purchase a family membership at a local, gay friendly gym. Not only did the boys get the chance to burn off lots of excess energy, but the relaxed atmosphere allowed them to be comfortable about their bodies, and open to talking about sex and all the ramifications of growing up. (puberty, etc.)

    At any rate, thanks for the memories! God Bless both of you, and both of your children!

  12. lol I also had that talk with my son when he was age appropriate.
    But my sister-in-law took it upon herself to be very open about it 3 years earlier (which I was furious about as it wasnt her place to tell my son anything like that)
    Got to tell you I actually looked forward to this talk with my son, which is why I was furious with my sister-in-law she took my mother-son moment from me...
    My son on the other hand was mortified ... and like daniel doesnt like discussing his innermost thoughts with any one...but we got there.
    I never had any talks with my parents just a cartoon book handed to me and that was it, so most of my information came from the girls locker rooms than high school Sex Ed, but didnt tell you about the emotions with the biology ... so I was quite old when I understood my sexuality which some days I still find hard, simply because that was never discussed with me..
    so I bit off topic sorry