I recently wrote a post about how having “The Talk” about sex with your children is not a one-time, sit-down event. Ideally, it should happen gradually, regularly, and naturally, as questions come up. This process eliminates the over-dramatization of such conversations, decreases the discomfort, normalizes sexuality, and encourages curiosity, inquisitiveness, and seeking answers from reliable sources.
My 10-year-old is used to a frank manner of discourse. He asks ALL the questions. So last week my family was watching the Emmys together. The three iconic leads (Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin) from the 1980 movie 9 to 5 appeared onstage to present an award. During their banter, Ms. Parton quipped, “I’m just hoping I’m going to get one of those Grace and Frankie vibrators in my swag bag tonight!”
Anytime there is a big laugh that my son doesn’t understand, he asks for clarification. He always wants in on the joke. So, of course, he turns to my husband and me and asks, “What’s a vibrator?”
For a diversion in order to gather my thoughts for a few seconds, I reach slowly for the remote, and pause the show. We DVR pretty much everything (doesn’t everyone??) so we can watch our shows whenever and however we want. We like to be able to pause a show to talk, or rewind to see something again, or whatever. I tell him, “It’s a sex toy.”
His brows furrow, puzzled. “What’s a sex toy?”
“Well… it’s a device that people use for sexual pleasure. Usually women.”
Still pondering with a puzzled expression, he repeats, “Sexual pleasure?”
While my husband and I are suppressing giggles, my son and I lock eyes. He’s digesting the information, and his expression changes as several seconds pass. His eyes begin to widen. “Do YOU have one??” he asks.
He exhales and squirms in his seat and turns back toward the TV, shaking his head. “OK this is really uncomfortable now. Can we just go back to the show please?”
“Yes.” On this particular occasion, I am also relieved when the conversation is over, because I’m not sure what his next question would be! Sheesh!
Generally speaking, we answer all the questions as honestly as we can, and use their questioning as our guideline. When they want to know more, they’ll ask more. When they’ve learned enough on any particular topic, they’ll stop. This is pretty much the way it’s always gone. No big.
So now my 10-year-old knows about vibrators. Well. Isn’t that special? Ha. But truthfully, I’d rather he find out about all the things from his dad and me, because we tell him the truth, or, depending on the topic, as much as we know about it.
In peer groups, children are prone to exaggerate their knowledge on any number of subjects in front of their friends in order to impress them, and they often get it wrong, wrong, wrong. This child will know truth… even when it’s awkward. Because this is life, kid, this is the world: curious, mysterious, and yeah, sometimes awkward.
There is so much to learn. You might as well learn about it as much as you can in the safety and security of your home, where you are encouraged to ask all the questions.
[Image Source: Adobe Stock]