It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Mary’s Talking Sex Again…

This time, with parents of teens. You can comment there, if you’re registered (which takes about 15 seconds), or you can comment here, but do let me know what you think!

July 30, 2007 - Posted by | controversy, my kids, parenting, sex


  1. I have to admit my version is ‘even think about it and I’ll kill you’ at which Lolly laughs! I also have to admit that I’ve warned her more of the bad things than of how good it can be! I think I’ll wait until she starts dating, going to a girls school and me not letting her out of my site the rest of the time is nicely delaying that!

    Comment by jenny uk | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  2. Jenny, Jenny, Jenny… Mary shakes her head. You do know that kids who get that kind of input on the home front are statistically more likely to a) start early and b) come home pregnant. Remember: “you’re raising an adult, not a child.” Lolly needs that info, and how nice for her to receive it from a source that really cares about her welfare.

    However, even if you don’t do the condom thing, I’m assuming you’ve given her the basic information? How it works physically, why to wait, to expect respect and patience, how to keep yourself from catching something nasty, or getting pregnant?

    Comment by MaryP | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  3. Prepared for a long comment?

    My parents subscribed to the TMI school of sex education. I had age appropriate books, yes, but I also had access to college level textbooks and illustrated guides on how to use condoms, aimed at teenagers. And I was reading this stuff at twelve. I was also privy to various discussions between my mother and my (six years or more) older sisters, which on one occassion involved a bannana and a condom. For demonstration purposes.

    And I can tell you I was the only girl in my class to make it through middle school without having sex. I actually waited until I was almost done with college. I wasn’t waiting for the right person, or for love or marriage – I waited until I felt ready.

    As opposed to my friends in middle school, who made vows to lose their virginity before the end of seventh grade, or who didn’t think oral sex counted as sex, or who ended up sleeping with men twice their age because they hadn’t been told it was okay to say ‘no.’ At sixteen I had the horrible experience of helping a friend cross state lines so she could get an abortion without her parent’s permission. She had honestly believed that you couldn’t get pregnant the first time.

    In college I ran into girls who didn’t understand the mechanics of orgasm, who thought the birth control pill protected against STDs or was an aphrodisiac, and many who didn’t know that “no” is a perfectly valid response. There was also the problem with almost all of them having multiple pregnancy scares. I wasn’t sexually active the first time I gave a bannana and condom demonstration – but I was the only one who had ever bothered to read the damn instructions.

    Having the information didn’t make me want to have sex. It made me understand that sex is a complicated thing, that needs to be thought out. I don’t think parents need to be quite as open as mine were, but there’s more to sex then just the mechanics and biological reality of baby-making. Children need to know that. Hiding the information isn’t going to stop teenagers from having sex – it’s just going to insure that they get very, very hurt.

    Comment by BJ | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  4. Excellent article Mary.

    I got pregnant (and had my first child) when I was only 16. It was not from a lack of technical information though. It was from a lack of self-esteem and believing that having sex somehow made me more likable. Nope, just made me pregnant.

    My daughter is only twelve and though she is already familiar with the parts and what they do, it won’t be long before we have THE TALK about personal responsibility and peer pressure when it comes to sex.

    Comment by Sheri | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  5. Well put, Mary! Granted, mine are only 3 months & almost 3, since we’re already using proper terms and fielding unexpected questions at bathtime & potty time, I hope this bodes well for open, honest conversations as they both grow.

    Also, starting early like this lets me get the blushes and my own only-partial-comfort-with-actual-terms out of the way now when she as a toddler doesn’t pick up on it!

    Thanks for helping me look forward!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  6. BJ: Thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree – the information doesn’t make you want to have sex. You either have the desire or you don’t, and most of us do. As you so clearly describe, the information keeps you safe and healthy, and gives you far better control over your actions.

    Sheri: Being limited to a mere 500 words, there was only so much I could say, and had I had the space, I would have liked to have spent more time on the concept of self-regard. Anyone who pressures you before you feel ready is the WRONG person to have as a partner, because they don’t respect you. I tipped my head in that direction, but couldn’t expound much.

    As you say, having sex doesn’t make you more likeable – but it could make you pregnant. Or worse.

    Ms Huis: Were you reading when I published this one? It says pretty much exactly what you’re saying – take it from the beginning in baby steps, and it’s much, much easier. (I had THAT in an earlier draft, too, but had to edit it out to stay in the word count!)

    Comment by MaryP | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  7. I agree that this is a conversation that has to keep on happening. I also think it’s important to convey early on, like 12 to 14, that it’s a big decision, one they should thhink on for a while and be sure about, and one that you hope they make in a way that is right for them. I think it’s important to tell them you are there if they have questions, and that you’d rather they come to you to talk birth control and safety than about how to handle a pregnancy or disease. They need to know they are loved and supported and that we have faith in their ability to be smart and careful with the right information and knowing that we’ve passed on our values to them. It’s nerve-wracking, but necessary to let them go a bit as teenagers. I think I’ll be a mess when we get there.

    Also? I love the condom repository idea. How very smart.

    Comment by kittenpie | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  8. Flea has a posting right now on this topic, at:

    She recommends the website Scarleteen, and a book called S.E.X.

    Not familiar with either, myself, but thought I’d share.

    Oh, and my favorite blog post on the subject is:
    It’s a must read!

    Comment by Lynn | July 31, 2007 | Reply

  9. Okay you have comdemend me to a harsh reality that the TALK is in the near future. As a 13 year old, this scares me…

    Comment by Mentality | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  10. Kittenpie: Sounds to me like you’ll do just fine. I have, of course, said all those things to my kids. It is kinda weird, though, at first, to be aware that your child has crossed that great divide, and is now sexually active. It’s certainly been the weirdest of all the “my baby’s growing up” moments for me so far!

    Lynn: That link to “my tiny kingdom” was hysterical. (Though, I might add, it’s also a fine example of what happens when you leave it all to one conversation…) Heh. I loved it. Thanks for sharing!

    I heard about Scarleteen on the CBC quite a while back, and checked it out then, but haven’t been back since. It looked sound back then. I’ll have to have another look. Thanks for the reminder!

    Mentality: Since I am extremely dubious that a 13-year-old works for Burn Development, I suspect this comment is spam, but on the off chance it’s not, I’ll respond to it.

    You know what, Mentality? I’ve written a bunch of posts to parents, now, saying “Get over yourselves. Your kids NEED this information from the most caring source around – you!” Now I’m saying to you: “Get over yourself. You need this information, and your parents are probably the best resource you have – books can’t talk to you, and your friends may or may not have good information.” And in fact, most teens DO get this information from their parents.

    So, sit pretty, listen up and – hey – how about you even ask some questions? If nothing else, you may have the fun of embarrassing your parents, too.

    Comment by MaryP | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  11. Excellent, Mary! I’m preparing! My daughter is 9 so I don’t think she is ready for all of the details quite yet but we’ll be at that point sooner than I’d like, I’m sure!

    Comment by LoryKC | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  12. Yes, this was written for parents of teens, so it’s more than you need for a 9-year-old. For now, I’m sure you’re letting her questions and comments lead the discussions. They usually have lots of curiosity about this – as about just about every subject!

    Comment by maryp | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  13. Amen. And what everybody else commented too.

    I grew up on a farm with a veterinarian father…. need I say more?

    When my little sister (12 years younger) asked about where babies came from (she was about 5) we got out the textbooks and colored pencils and drew pictures of pregnant women and their internal workings…. I wish I’d kept the pictures.

    I just want to stay the course and do justice to my kids by giving them reality, honesty & facts… without scaring them or sounding judgmental.

    Comment by Homestead | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  14. listen buddy 23 year olds are not stupid. They are smarter then what they were “back in the day” okay.

    Comment by Mentality | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  15. #14 is certainly as defensive as a 13-year-old. Punctuates like an 8-year-old, though… 😛

    Comment by Laura | August 1, 2007 | Reply

  16. Scarleteen is a great site, I heartily recommend it. I haven’t bought S.E.X. yet because my 13-year-old son still thinks the whole concept is icky, but we’ve had conversation about puberty and pregnancy and that it’s ok to ask questions. Your article has helped me to remember that I have to keep that conversation going and not wait until he’s “good to go” to do the Talk. Thanks.

    Comment by sylvia | August 4, 2007 | Reply

  17. I hope I can do the same when it’s that time. My parents never had the talk with me, and I was very curious and pressured at the same time. It took awhile for me to realize that it was my choice.

    Being honest about it and giving my children the tools to be safe is what I want. It will happen, it’s up to them as to when it will happen. I was rebellious with my parents, and I probably would have been less so had they been up front and honest with me.

    Comment by undercovermutha | August 5, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: