When I think of condoms, I think about the single invention that could save our planet and our species. Generally, with a “bow-chicka-wow-wow” in the background because I am your strange and shameless GM, after all. Thinking about a pecker poncho usually brings a grin to my face, even if it’s not on the chiseled body of Alexander Skarsgård, because in this tiny little banger balloon, lies the solution to many of the world’s most concerning problems… most importantly, preventing me from becoming a grandmama before I ought to be.
The Catholic Church, as we know, doesn’t see it this way.
To this Catholic mom, a close combat sock is a symbol of sin. Momma Communion tells us the story of a time she overheard two teenage girls buying condoms at the pharmacy… and she tells it like she’s recounting a murder she witnessed:
I wanted to run after you and tell you how you deserved better than inebriated “safe” sex.
Of course, by “better” she means imaginary men in the sky who demand your abstinence until you marry an equally inexperienced man and sloppily bump uglies as you perfect the missionary style and nap through vanilla sex for the rest of your life. That is hot, lady. Hot.
Or did she mean, perhaps, not purchasing the condoms and hoping that powerful teenage hormones and underdeveloped brains prone to bad decisions don’t lead to teen mommyhood, or a horrific STD infection, or having to consider abortion or adoption? Those all sound like far better options than “safe” sex, right? These options sound way better than using our bodies, responsibly, for what they were built for at a time in your life when your body is screaming for it… right?
There is a plan for sex for you and me and everyone. It is, in fact a perfect plan that is moral, natural, satisfying, fun, pleasurable, marriage strengthening, life-giving, and faith solidifying.
Oh, I see. Using a naughty bag goes against HIS plan. A cock hat is a direct assault on God, which, when you think about it, indicates the big fella isn’t as powerful as the religious would have you believe. I mean, if I was all-powerful and it was my plan for you to have a baby, the catcher’s mitt you’re using won’t stand a chance. I suppose then, even God is no match for the mighty rubber? Is that what I am to believe? Not only does it prevent pregnancy and STDs, but also God’s holy intentions? Wow!
How about a more rational way of looking at sex? About a week ago, I was asked on Twitter how I talk to my kids about sex. The answer is simple. I talk to them honestly. Always. There was the one time, when my son was five, that he asked me, “Mommy, what are my nuts for?” which, like many things, required him to pull his little bits out of his shorts and wave them around. Once the tiny parts were tucked safely back in his underoos, I answered truthfully, explaining that they were little seed factories that, when his body was ready, could help make a baby. He said ok, and followed it up quickly with, “but they’re not little, mom”. Of course, since men don’t ever really grow out of that, my husband quickly backed him up. “Yeah, they’re not little.” but I digress.
My stepdaughter, on the other hand, is freshly 16 and drop-dead gorgeous. She’s growing into the body of a supermodel (not even joking) and has naturally long eyelashes, and deep, expressive dimples. Her eyes are a rich, chocolatey brown and her hair falls down to her mid-back. She has beautiful, trendy taste in clothing and has more makeup skill in her baby finger than I have in my whole body. She is stunning. Her family also has a history of teen motherhood, and she has already shown interest in boys. For most of her life, we only had her for a few weeks a year, and I knew that when I didn’t have her, she didn’t get a ton of attention as she lived alone with her working mother. So, when she was here with us, it was sex-ed crash course time.
So, how did I open the conversation up with a child who is not biologically mine, and who is extremely shy and easily embarrassed?
I did it with MTV’s Teen Mom.
Now, before the chorus of “that’s such trash” chimes in, I want you to understand that you’ve been duped. You’ve been duped into thinking that shows about real world issues are somehow trashy, while shows about nerdy roommates with a dry wit are a more respectable choice. You’ve been duped into thinking that teen motherhood is not something that should be a topic of discussion out in the open using mediums that teens themselves would actually be attracted to and that watching an Atlanta cop slay zombies is somehow deeper and of a higher quality.Teen Mom sheds light in a very real way (no one is getting voted off the maternity ward, and there are no cash prizes) on a problem that most people consider extremely serious. Let’s look at some facts, shall we?
• In Canada, over 30,000 teenagers became pregnant in 2005
• In the USA, 3 out of every 10 girls will become pregnant before the age of 20
• In the USA, 1 in 10 new moms is under the age of 20
• Nearly half of all teenagers are sexually active by the time they graduate
• There are direct correlations between young mothers, single-parent families (often the case for teenaged moms) and crime.
• Many studies suggest that children thrive in a home setting that involves two parents, financial stability and a stable, clean, routined and secure setting which is often not the case when there are teenaged mothers involved.
But it’s trashy to shed light on it, right? It’s trashy to talk about the consequences, to demonstrate those consequences in a place that teens are already tuning in, right?
I realize that eventually the mothers starring in Teen Mom get paid for it. I also don’t like the fact that we have to put these vulnerable young women on television to get this conversation started. However, the statistics don’t lie. After the original show, 16 and Pregnant first aired, 82% of teenagers reported that the show gave them a far greater understanding of the difficulties and hardships a teenaged mom experiences. The drop in teen pregnancies in 2009 was also so significant, that the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy actually recognized the show for the part it played.
So, I watched it with my stepdaughter. I paused it every now and again and explained things to her. I talked to her about the people in her life who had babies as teens and what they had to go through, the struggles they had to deal with. I told her about how she can protect herself, and explained all types of birth control. I also told her that if no one else would, I’d take her to get it, no questions asked. I explained to her the emotional side of things, and about how hormones during teen years become so powerful that they make boys and girls alike desire things that may not be in their best interest. I explained to her that waiting for the right person, whom you love, is always the best option. Then, I always told her about condoms. Grabbing a pack at a store in a pinch is easy, nothing to be embarrassed by and should prevent any unwanted consequences of sex.
I’ve also explained to her that the god-defeating latex raincoat could also help us significantly reverse the following worldwide issues (aside from STDs and teen pregnancy, motherhood and abortions):
– Climate Change
– Poor education
So, if I walked into a pharmacy, and saw my stepdaughter buying condoms as a teenager, my reaction would be quite different from Catholic Mommy. I’d feel sad that it’s happening, but I’d know that she’s heard my schpiel about being in love and making sure a man respects her before laying down with him, and I’d trust that she’s making the right choice for her. It wouldn’t be easy, but in the same way that taking your 5-year-old to the first day of kindergarten isn’t easy. It indicates the passage of time; the kid who’s not a baby anymore; the young adult who’s not a child anymore. I would be sad, but I would look at her with pride and respect that she listened to me, and full comprehension that she understood: if you’re going to do it, do it responsibly.
Of course, then I’d find out who the boy is and cut his nuts off… but that’s another blog post.
How do you talk to your kids about sex? Let me know in the comments!
Image: Creative Commons/Pixabay