Teach me about sex.

Today's prompt is about teaching sex education. Who should be doing this? Parents? The school? Or a combination of both?

Back when I was in school....long time ago...this was not a question. In my sophomore year in HS I took a health class. I learned all the specifics about sex. The details. No morality. Just the facts. Ironically, there was a pregnant girl in my class. Not many people knew she was pregnant, but I did. She was pretty far along. 5 or 6 months even. I guess she gave it up for adoption. She was a friend of my sister's. She was a junior. I think she was taking the class too late.

I learned a lot about sex from my father. Not because he taught me about sex but because after my parents got divorced, he lived with a stack of 20 year olds and he acted like a 20 year old instead of a 32 year old father of 4. There were sexually explicit posters all over the house and lots of sexual innuendo. The visits to my dad's house were very educational. Starting when I was in 5th grade.

When my parents were still married, and I was in about the 3rd grade, my sister read a book to us about sex. The birds, the bees, the farm animals, and finally people. I understood the concept. ONLY.

My daughters are in the 5th and 6th grades. Fifth grade is when they are introduced to "family life". Last year, my Grace was very attentive during these lessons and she educated us at dinner for weeks. Lea picked up most of the info and then polluted it and passed it on to all of her friends. I had to call at least one parent to warn them about Lea's attempt at educating the masses. This year, Grace attended a live performance of "A Nightmare on Puberty Street". She was most impressed with the cavalier usage of the word "boner". That was her major takeaway.

My girls have a rough idea of what sex is. They, like most kids this age, think they know way more than they do. I was very open with them about their own bodies and what to expect. I have always used correct names for the body parts. For years we hid our laughter as Lea spoke so eloquently about her fagina.

Fifth and sixth grade seems way too young for all this information. However, when I go on campus and see some of these 6th graders, I think it may actually be too late.

Boyd was telling a story about his friend who was shaving in 7th grade and drove a car to school in the 8th grade. He was in big trouble for that since he was only 14, but Boyd said he looked 17.

Now it seems to be the girls who are maturing early. Grace is classmates with girls who are fully matured, physically, that is.  I mean FULLY. It is disconcerting in many ways.

I believe that parents should be the first exposure point for sex education. I think what is offered in school should not be shocking. Being unprepared to hear about erections and menstruation, while sitting in a classroom, next to friends, is a very unsettling thing. Almost as unsettling as hearing your teachers say "penis" and "vagina".

This is a controversial subject. Many parents do NOT want their children to participate in these lessons. The school system allows parents to sign and "opt out" form and their children are excused from the lessons.

I have heard many discussions about teaching abstinence. Abstinence has nothing to do with the FACTS about sex education. Abstinence is a morality lesson. This should be something our children learn at home. My girls know the FACTS but more importantly they have learned from us that their bodies are precious. Their own private business. They should demand to be treated with the utmost respect. Respecting their bodies will serve them much better than the lessons on "nocturnal emissions". Honoring a moral code will reward them for a lifetime.

Sex is something that is about so much more than "just the facts". The school system can teach the facts and as parents we can expand on that and teach the morality and respect and balance those lessons with our expectations and beliefs.

The challenges of this are immense. The angst of the teenaged years is right in front of me. I have 2 sisters "in the weeds" right now. As we discuss their struggles I constantly remind them that I will be looking for reciprocity in a few years.

My husband and I will have our work cut out for us if genetics plays any role at all in the sexual choices a person makes. Decades of teenaged pregnancies on both sides of our families as well as rebellious spirits as wide as the ocean. The difference between my daughters and me is their sense of self. The values I am teaching my girls that I never learned at home. The absolutes with regard to protecting their bodies that was never even discussed in my home. The way they feel about themselves, which I learned in my 30’s. I am giving my girls my very best. I wonder what that would have been like.

When you know better, you do better. Maya Angelou says this. I aspire to it every day.

 

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