If you can't make it better you can laugh at it. ~Erma Bombeck


Monday, January 19, 2009

Sex Ed: Part II - What Parents Should Know

HOWDY!! Sorry it's taken so long to get back to this. Life on my particular roller coaster gets me down sometimes and, as I told Margie, sometimes it's better just to not spread the misery. Plus, when I'm all grumpy and frustrated, everything comes out negative and that is never what I want this place to be. Thought provoking, insightful, entertaining, funny, and lots of other things, but never intentionally and/or uncomfortably negative! Anywhom, on with the show...

The overwhelming question I get when counseling families and in the comments here is basically this: How do I keep my kid from ruining his/her life by having premarital sex?

I wish there were some easy answers to that question, but since there aren't, I'll tell you what I have seen work and what I've seen fail miserably.

The first thing parents have to realize is that when it comes to keeping teenagers from doing whatEVER they are going to do, GIVE UP STRESSING OVER IT. You cannot keep your kid from doing stupid if said kid decides that stupidity is more fun and rewarding than any resulting consequences. Our parents couldn't stop us. Their parents couldn't stop them. And so on, and so on, all the way back to Adam and Eve. Does this sound at all familiar:

God the Parent

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve. And the first thing He said to them was:


"Don't what?" Adam asked.

"Don't eat the Forbidden Fruit." God replied.

"Forbidden fruit? We got Forbidden Fruit?

"Hey, Eve..we got Forbidden Fruit!"

"No way! Where?"

"Don't eat that fruit!" said God.


"Because I am your Creator and I said so!" said God, wondering why he hadn't stopped after making the elephants.

A few minutes later God saw the kids having an apple break and was angry.

"Didn't I tell you not to eat that fruit?" the 'First Parent' asked.

"Uh huh," Adam replied.

"Then why did you?"

"I dunno," Eve answered.

"She started it!" Adam said.

"Did not!"

"DID so!"


Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own...thus the pattern was set, and it has never changed.


I've often wondered if our Creator is still kicking himself for including that 'free will' clause when he was doing the R&D on molding man into existence. Even He has to be surprised at just how far that little piece of celestial legislation has allowed man to go. In light of how His whole human race thing developed, can we, as parents of brain-deficient teenagers expect to have any more control of our progeny? (Go watch that video; it is very enlightening. Go ahead - I'm not going anywhere until you get back.)

Welcome back. You should now feel much better about your relationship with your teenager since you know that part of his (or her) behavior is hard-unwired at this point in his development. See what I mean about not stressing over it so much? To me, stress is just failure in action. If we have succeeded in fixing a problem, we don't stress over it, do we? (Now I'm sitting here trying to figure out if I'm the kettle or the pot in this stress mess!) So how about if we take a look at some things that we CAN do to try and steer our kids down a safe(r) path in life.

There are the obvious things like setting a good example in your home and in your relationships with those outside your home. Kindness, consideration, patience, and consistency are all important. More important is letting your kids see you being human the right way. That means that if you screw up, you acknowledge it and apologize for it. AND FIX IT if at all possible. They have to know that you aren't going to come down on them for screwing up as long as they handle it correctly. They have to know that above all else, you love them and will fight to the death for their future success. And for those of you who are patting yourselves on the back for sticking up for your kid, right or wrong, STOP IT! That kind of thinking gets them into more trouble than holding them accountable for wrongs and rewarding only the things they do right.

How does that have anything to do with Sex Ed? Think about it: if Mary can't come tell you that she broke a dish or felt like hitting some smart-mouthed beyoch today, what makes you think that she's gonna tell you that she's thinking about sleeping with some knuckle-dragger?

Another thing that seems to work well is to take the mystery and misery (and a little of the excited anticipation) out of sexual issues by talking very plainly, clinically, and age-appropriately about them. Forbidden fruit is always more attractive than the mundane bowl of goodies within arms reach. If a question is asked, do your best to answer ONLY what was asked. Too much information will make the kid afraid to ask more questions. Too little will leave her wondering what you are hiding. They are smart that way. Dang it!

And for pity sake DO NOT overreact when Freddie comes home at age 5 and asks you why his wee wee (he should be calling it a penis at this age, by the way!) isn't as big as Billy's. Or why his best friend, Annie, doesn't have one at all. Know that kids have been playing doctor ever since Adam and Eve first examined each other after their apple snack. How you react to their first forays into that venue will determine how much you know about their travels in the future. For all the things the little darlings can't remember from moment to moment, they will remember that first reaction for the rest of their lives if you bumble it.

So, the bottom line to all of this is that sex ed doesn't begin when your child enters puberty. I starts when they enter the world. Making them feel safe, loved, secure, and valued is the best defense you can give them against having some insecure over-sexed ball of hormones make them feel safe, loved, secure, and valued if only for the one moment it takes to rush head first over a cliff that will leave their souls and bodies bruised and battered for the rest of their lives.

And if the worst does happen, take a deep breath, say a prayer, and hug your kid. He needs you now more than he will ever know until he has kids of his own and is trying to figure out how to keep them from going where he went. It's the circle of life, folks. We all survived it. So will they.

Peace, Blessings, and The RIGHT Kind of Love to all.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Damama's Use it or Lose it Advice on: Sex Ed


Today the local talk radio people were all going on about the fact that apparently Texas is winning the race to have the most pregnant teens in the country. I didn't hear the whole story on whatever it was that sparked all the chatter, but I was quite amused and extremely appalled at some of the comments made by the parents who called in. The one that bothered me the most was a man who said his daughter knew that if she ever showed up pregnant he'd disown her. Literally. No joke. Makes me wonder what other all or nothing conditions he puts on his love. What a way for his children to live.

I was most greatly amused by the people who truly believe that simply having their kids' butts in the church pew every time the doors are open will keep them from engaging in premarital relations. Oh don't we all wish it was that easy!?! This reminded me of my very precocious devout days as a youth member of one particular local Baptist church...

Betsy*, Tom*, Bill*, and I met when we were all chosen to be members of one of the first Christian youth rock bands in Texas. You have to remember that in the 70s the idea of having drums and guitars in church was a pretty radical concept -- especially so in our small-town, staunch Southern Baptist church! Our progressive Youth Leader, however, was a visionary and talked Reverend NutJob into allowing him to give it a try in an effort to get more kids interested in coming to church. We were actually pretty good and soon began receiving invitations to perform at other churches in the area. We were even invited to perform at a church in Dallas which meant an overnight trip. And that was the beginning of the end of our musical careers.

As you can imagine, since we spent so much time together we inevitably formed very close bonds and eventually paired off: Betsy and Tom; Bill and me. (The rest of the band members were all really weird guys, several of whom actually went on to professional music careers!) The only problem was that Betsy was Rev NJ's only daughter. Rev NJ was very protective of his flock. He was OBSESSIVELY protective of Betsy who was forbidden to date until she was at least 18. Her 15-year-old hormones had other plans, though, so we spent a good deal of time figuing out ways to get around the no-dating rule. We would have been in good shape if it hadn't been for that dang Dallas trip. The trip on which Miss Betsy lost her virginity. And her freaking mind!

Before the Dallas trip Betsy and Tom had been able to keep their relationship under wraps. They sat together during services, but always with a respectable distance between them; only holding pinkies with their hands down on the hardwood pew safely out of Daddy's sight. Afterward, they were like two lovesick octopuses: all arms and suckers. You couldn't slide a piece of paper between them with a battering ram! Their new postures did not go unnoticed by the Rev. (or anybody else with half an eyeball in their head!)

Always willing to give his baby girl the benefit of the doubt, he accepted her assurances that they were only friends. He did, however, warn her that fornication is a sin that would cause her to burn in hell with evilist of evil-doers. The warnings fell on deaf ears, because poor Betsy, though she tried as hard as she could, any time Tom was within reach she couldn't help but latch on and melt all over him. As the strong spritual leader he was, her father began to find clever ways of working morality messages into every sermon.

... "And the Lord gave us the trees and the flowers. He gave us the beasts of the field, the birds of the skies, and the bees of the garden. And it was all beautiful until we ruined it with


Didn't matter what the topic was, that man could figure out how to segway into FORRRNIIIICATION. After a while we realized that his segways always coincided with Tom touching Betsy and a whole new game was born: How many times can we get Rev NJ to scream FORRRNIIIICATION during the sermon. If memory serves me right, the record was 8.

Within 3 months of the Dallas trip our little group was disbanded (ha! punny!). Betsy was sent to a "private boarding school" where it was rumored that her healthy baby boy was adopted by a wealthy family from somewhere up in North Texas. The whole experience turned me totally off of church. It would be years before I would agree to try it again.

From all of that I learned that first and foremost, as a parent you cannot stick your head in the sand about what your kids can and will do if they decide they want to. You cannot make arbitrary, unbendable rules and expect your child to just follow them without question. You have to be open to hearing things you might not want to know; doing things you might not want to do. But above all, you have to keep your sense of humor. We all survived our teenage years. Our kids will, too.

I ran across this Sex Education film strip. Too bad Reverend Nut Job's not still around. Think of all the great sermon fodder he'd have to use to warn us all about the evils of FORRRRRNIIIICATION!"


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