Monday, January 26, 2015

Teaching Our Children About Sex (parenting tales from Mormon-ville)

Sex and Mormonism. In all honesty, it's taught as "no, it's bad, it's of Satan, do not do anything to arouse sexual feelings or thoughts." Yes, sex is bad bad bad bad bad. Until you get married. Then have a great and healthy sex life! And, really, since most normal kids are horny and want sex, this means that Mormons tend to get married really super young so they can have "legal" sex. And then the babies come fast and, well, young adults are stuck... already married and parents all so they could have legal sex.

And many of these young adults (no, I don't have a statistic) have really unhealthy sex lives and views on sex because their entire lives have been one Big Lesson about sex is bad. Until it's not. And, truth is, you can't turn off that message "just like that" just because you say "I do."

What is most tragic in all this is that these people then have children and they perpetuate that message of sex being a BIG NO. And many parents have no idea how to have realistic conversations with their children about sex, and how to have a lifelong healthy sex life. How I escaped this whole concept despite the fact that I grew up in a very conservative Mormon household is one big question. But I'm grateful that this ridiculous concept never penetrated (pun intended) my soul or psyche.

Such is the story of my latest Divorced Moms column. As a mom of daughters, it is my goal to raise my children to have healthy attitudes towards sex. Sex is a huge responsibility and it's a life lesson to learn to manage sex in a positive way. It does make me cringe, though, when the time comes to talk birth control, condoms, STDs and pregnancies. At what point do you cross from condoning and encouraging sex at a young age versus being realistic and keeping them safe and protected? Ah, now that is the million dollar question! Anyway, my story and musings are right here. Enjoy!

Teaching Our Children Healthy Attitudes About Sex
by Lizzy Smith                      
January 26, 2015
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Fotolia_69988112_XS.jpgLast week, I went for tea with two friends, Karen and Christy. I told them about a conversation I recently had with my friend, Jane. Jane has a 14-year old son, Henry, who is cute, outgoing, and very popular with the girls at his school. Jane and Henry have a very close relationship and no topic is off limits, including sex. Not long ago, Henry told his mom that he was at a party where a 16-year old girl took her top off and invited him to touch her boobies. Henry ran off because he didn't know what to do. Jane told me that it is just a matter of time before her son starts having sex. "I wish he would wait and I tell him all the time that he is too young, and that sex is reserved for love and commitment. But I also know it's going to happen, and probably soon. But he cannot get a girl pregnant so I have a box of condoms ready for him. Ugh!"
I asked Jane when she's going to give him those condoms. "I don't know. At what point am I condoning and encouraging sex at the age of 14, versus making sure there aren't STDs and a pregnancy? But the answer is, soon."

I asked Karen and Christy they're thoughts were on the topic. All three of us have daughters the same age. I gave them this scenario: Our daughter comes home and says "I'm going to have sex with my boyfriend, Mom." ...or... instead of one of our daughters telling us they're about ready to have sex, we just know in our gut that it's going to happen soon. Grounding her and never letting her out of the house again isn't realistic. So, when do we take her to the doctor and get her on birth control? When do we give her condoms and beg her to use them so she doesn't come home with herpes? And while our daughters are all 14 years old now, what happens if they are older, like 16, which, in my opinion, is a more typical time to start exploring sex?

Without missing a beat, Christy, who is very conservative Mormon, said that there would be no birth control for her daughters, no matter what. "If they are going to have sex, then they'll get pregnant and need to put the baby up for adoption. It's natural consequences and I am not going to shield them from it."

I was speechless. It took me several moments to recover. "You would rather have your daughter come home pregnant than put her on birth control?" I asked.

"Yes!" Just like that. I thought she was joking until I realized she wasn't.

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