It’s a question I have been struggling with, along with all the other questions that go along with it.
Sex education, contraceptives and my offspring.
My boys are *almost* 14 and 11. (Since little Butterlump just turned one and I am already having screaming nightmares about my older boys becoming teenage fathers who have every STD known to man, let’s just leave him out of this particular discussion for now, m’kay?)
Ever since I have been a teenager, one of my greatest fears is that if I had boys they would disrespect, use, or be jerks to women. I’ve almost made it my life mission to make sure my boys are gentlemen. I talk to them all the time about how to treat the girls they interact with and how they should treat the girls they date when they are allowed.
And of course, we talk to them about sex.
We have had some situations that have called for some pretty blunt discussion with Jonathan and I and the boys, but I confess that I tend to let my husband and James’ father deal more with the nitty gritty as far as sex goes.
We are ALL more comfortable with this scenario. If I had a girl I think this would be different, but maybe I am just being a bit cowardly.
I am the first to admit I have some hang-ups in this area.
My parents did not discuss sex with me. I am the youngest of six widely spaced kids, so it is both an issue of their generation, their own upbringings and how it went with my elder brother when they gave him "the talk." Apparently it scared him to the point that they decided to never attempt it with their other children. (So the family legend goes). I am OK with this. In fact, the thought of talking openly about sex with my parents pretty much makes me want to run screaming off of the cliffs of insanity so really, it’s fine.
Still, that meant that pretty much everything I learned about sex I got from my friends and the health class in high school that was taught by my driver’s ed instructor. Or the gym teacher? Or the history teacher? Or some other teacher that seemed really out of place to be teaching me how to put a condom on produce. Maybe it was the biology teacher, but I could totally be confusing the condom and produce memory with the latex in the gloves we used to dissect frogs, who knows.
I don’t object to sex education being taught in schools. Though in this day and age if they are only getting educated from that and friends you REALLY need to re-evalute that situation as a parent. (For that matter, if your kids also don’t know what a banana looks like before they get to sex ed, you could probably pick up a bit of slack in the "feeding and care-taking" arena. Just sayin’ ... )
I strongly, (STRONGLY) believe that the best chance you have to minimize kids having sex before they are ready emotionally and to not act recklessly is to educate them. And most importantly -– do as much as you can to make sure they are emotionally healthy and happy and loved. I think that matters. So many use sex as a substitution for love and other things missing in their lives, and when you’re that young and hormonal it can be very easy to confuse the two.
I also don’t think any good comes from overly scaring kids regarding the topic of intercourse or birth control with exaggerations, myths, etc. or threatening them with excessive punishment like being kicked out of the house or that they are going to hell or that they are going to have their peeps cut off then coated in peanut butter and bird seed and hung on trees (or whatever) should they become sexually active. To me, that is quite different from blunt discussion and consequences. The other can cause such negative feelings and reactions to sex that can last their whole adult lives.
I don’t want that for my kids.
The positives of sex in the right conditions need to be talked about as much as the negatives when it’s not, in my opinion. Educating them that sex can be a wonderful thing when it’s with the right person, timing, maturity, ect. is important.
So, I’m good on educating them.
The situation of birth control gets a bit trickier for me.
There are some things I have decided are absolutes for me.
I don’t think there are too many parents who actually want their kids to engage in sexual behavior as teens, and many who have high desires for religious and other reasons for their children to wait until marriage to engage in it. I can absolutely respect that view. I was raised with that view.I’d love for my kids to pick abstinence. But, while I do think that abstinence should be taught as the.only.way that teens can GUARANTEE that they will stay STD-free and not get pregnant, I DEFINITELY do not believe that it is the only talk you should be talking with your kids regarding sex.
If kids are having sex THEY SHOULD BE USING CONDOMS AND IDEALLY AN ADDITIONAL FORM OF BIRTH CONTROL. And they should know how and where to obtain them and how to use them and know the difference between myth and fact regarding sexual health and safety.
That isn’t an issue for me.
Where I start stuttering and hemming and hawing has been the question,“Would I provide/buy birth control for my children if I found out they were having sex or if they came to me and asked?”
I asked my husband (and several other people) what he thought.
We both agreed age/maturity/and who they were having sex with would matter to us, and we talked a lot about how we would handle it. The situation really boiled down to a few different points:
That buying birth control for them is tacit approval of them having sex.
I can totally see this point of view. I would not, no matter how much my kid begged, buy alcohol and take away car keys so they could party with their friends in a safe, controlled environment. But, that is also an illegal offense. And I would make it clear that if my kids do drink or they are with someone who has been drinking that they can call me at any time, any where and I will come and get them versus them even attempting to drive or be driven by a drinking kid, no questions asked.
The other point was this:
If they are too immature and unable to get their own condoms, then they shouldn’t be having sex and it might deter them from doing so.
Well, yes. That seems obvious. But that is no guarantee they won’t. And again, if they are going to do it, don’t I want to also do as much as possible for them to be as safe as possible?
But don’t I also want to make it as difficult as possible for them to have it in the first place?
But, but, BUT!!!!!
I go back and forth.
It hurts my head.
Do I believe teens having sex is inevitable?
I am also very realistic.
I want my children to not be teen parents.
To be STD-free.
To be safe.
So, to address the question that has been churning around in my brain for far too long ...
Would I buy condoms for my boys?
I honestly don’t know.
I do have a few guesses about some things (besides the fact that despite a calm, open exterior I am afraid I will internally start to hyperventilate and fight to not swallow my tongue) like I feel that them ASKING would be a different scenario than me just going out and buying them.
My main hope against hope is that we will have a relationship where they CAN come and talk to me.
I also guess that even if I think and think and come to a decision, it will STILL be something I’d have to decide all over again in the moment. I’ll just keep talking, writing and puzzling it out and hope that I make the best decision possible for me and my family.
But more than that?
I am secretly hoping it’s a decision I NEVER have to make.
What about you? How have you/will you/would you handle these topics with your kids?
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