After all you can never, ever talk too much about sex. Ok so in the last blog, I tried to paint the delightful picture of the sex-life of a teen today. The birds and the bees conversation I had with my Dad at age 12, so sweet and innocent compared to today's talk is like "Disney VS Girls gone wild". We are WAY past talking about menstruation/masturbation and "when a man loves a woman." Today's talk requires facility with language most would find on 1-800-who wants sex?
Step 1. Getting comfortable with the language of sex. For those of you who do not like saying the word blow-job out loud, run to your nearest closest, close the door and repeat a thousand times, blow job, blow job, etc etc etc. Until you have desensitized yourself to the sound of the word in your head. This is a very necessary step because once your kid senses you are completely uncomfortable with the conversation they will run from you, as their discomfort is worse than yours and they will look for any excuse to escape your grasp. As long as they don't have to think or talk about sex, getting on with it feels OK. That is why these conversations are so important. They are also important because of the misinformation that kids have about sex in general. In a recent Boston Globe article: Students find more sex than education, teens cite these "factoids": "You can't get pregnant if you have sex in water, If you have oral sex you won't get an STD, and there is no point in wearing a condom because it will probably break." So anyone who has a swimming pool, along with the "no running rule, perhaps a "no intercourse" rule might be safe as well!
Step 2. The actual talk. Timing is everything. Do not just walk into their room, and start in. I know I have created a ton of parent anxiety here and your impulse is to "just get it over with" but patience, patience, patience. Find an opportunity. Perhaps your teen is off to a party this weekend, or a camp reunion over the xmas break, or a community ski trip. Some day when you are driving them in a time proximate to the upcoming event, you might start a conversation like: You must be excited about going....... It will be so fun to hang with everyone, and celebrate." Or rent some teen movie, or watch Gossip Girl, or some show on TV that will be sure to have sex in it (that shouldn't be hard). Then you might say: I was listening to a story on NPR, or talk radio, or Oprah, or The View, or a friend from work just told me this story (use one of the stories from yesterday's blog) and they were talking about how the whole sex stuff with teens is so different." And with some humor here, you can say they were talking about all different ways to have "blow-job parties" And now please make a joke, because your kids will be so shocked that you have said this word publicly they may bolt at the next red light. And with a little sarcasm you might say: "I am sure you and your friends never do this stuff, but have you heard about stuff going on like this?" Perhaps they may have something to share here, if you have kept the conversation somewhat light. The danger is to get to serious, thus shutting your kid down. You know how dogs can smell fear, and take that as an invitation to become aggressive, so will your kids. The goal here is to not frighten them but to entice them.
Step 3. You have introduced the topic, and now you can try to impart some information. Because that is what this is all about. It is not about a moral lesson. If you go for the moral lesson I guarantee your teen will walk away. They do not want to be told what they can and cannot do. Remember "you are not the boss of me" is very much in play here. And if you get negative and lecture-ly they will see this as a challenge rather than a consultation. One parent I know downloaded a picture of a mouth full of Chlamydia. Which by the way, according to the Globe article is "climbing to alarming rates". Saying something like, " you know if some girl or guy you are fooling around with wants you to go down on him, or wants to give you a blow job this could be your mouth/penis. If he/she has done this with other kids, which I am sure is pretty likely, we could be spending some time in your pediatrician's office."If you can't find a picture, perhaps you could let them know just how uncomfortable the symptoms of Chlamydia are. After you have them completely disgusted by the physical parts of this, then you can softly go to the I Get it moment. "I get that kids are doing stuff like this, and there must be a lot of pressure out there to be part of it, even if it isn't something you are comfortable with. For a daughter: "I get its nice to have attention from a guy, especially if its someone you have a crush on, but truly you could just be another notch on his tally of how many girls he can get. Most guys do not want a girlfriend who willingly gives guys head. They will wonder who else she does this with. Go bake him some brownies instead. For a son: " I get girls will probably be throwing themselves at you, but really honey, what they really want is a relationship, and a boyfriend. And if you ask or allow a girl to give you a blowjob you are setting yourself up for expectations from this girl that you like her and want to have a relationship with her. And if that is not the case, just say no!"
Step 4. It is also really important here to discuss the combination of alcohol and drug fueled sex. Most kids would never do any of this if they weren't high. I once had a parent call me and say that her daughter had asked to go to the doctors to get on birth control, just in case she got drunk one night and had unprotected sex. Now there is a conversation opener for you. But truly that is not an unlikely scenario. Saying to your daughter or son: "do you really want your first experience with making love to be on a cold bathroom floor, with your partner puking their guts out afterwards from motion sickness! Sex is a great thing, but timing and location and most importantly connection are what makes sex great.
I have gone on too long and there is much to say. This is tough stuff. Thinking of your kids in these positions, and I mean literally and figuratively here is traumatizing. I GET IT. But your job is to get your kids to want to have these conversations with you, and that takes finesse, and creativity. Parenting a teen is often about putting your impulsive needs to "get something through that thick head of theirs" on hold. Your kids need your help with this, especially because they won't feel comfortable coming to you first, thinking they are supposed to know what to do. The truth is they absolutely do not know what to do. Why should they? This new talking body is brand new, the way it looks, the way it feels, and what it does. It does not come with instructions, and believe it or not, you are probably the only people who will give them the straight up info they need. So go into the closet, get comfortable with the language, and come out of the closet, confident and comfortable with your new role as Dr. Ruth.