Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sex and other taboo topics for kids

My 11-year old stepdaughter is completely up to speed on how IVF works.  She's witnessed SQ shots in the belly, and has also questioned why one would use a birth control pill when trying to have a baby (that one can still be pretty confusing).  And for some reason, our openness about the process with her has surprised some people.

Just a few weeks ago, before we started the injection part of the process, she asked, "What exactly is wrong that you need to do this?", while we were making dinner.  "Well", said my husband, "what is needed to have a baby?".  He was digging for her to talk about the egg and the sperm, so we could point out which parts worked and which didn't.  She instead looks at him confused, and says just above a whisper, "Sex?????".  I about broke into laughter when I saw my husband trying to hide a smile.  "Yes...but how exactly does that work?"  This led to another conversation about the whole process, and how my husband's sperm aren't quite fast enough, and quite numerable enough, and some might be a little deformed.

So yes, she gets the good, the bad, and the ugly.  We talk to her pretty frankly about sex, about drinking, and about drugs.  We'll also talk about why it is important to be nice to people you think are weird, to be polite when tuning down dates (she has "I'm very flattered, but just not interested in a relationship right now" memorized), and to always think about how her actions today can impact her potentially very bright future. 

Sometime she'll ask things, and my first inclination is to skirt the issue, or come up with some non-answer because I just want her to remain innocent and naive.  But kids in this tween age are curious and impressionable.  If we shut down now, she won't come back to us when we need her to.  Our goal is to never make her feel embarrassed or stupid for asking us anything. 

There are times we delve into subjects and specifics that have raised some eyebrows.  She knows that a glass of vodka and a glass of beer are not the same number of servings. She also knows that the drinking age law is not totally arbitrary; drinking at too young of an age is just plain harmful. And you should never drink and drive. She knows that the barrels that wine is stored in impact the taste and nose.  She knows that once she decides she wants a tattoo she needs to want the same one in the same place for a year before making actually making it permanent.  She knows that horrible things can happen to girls, and it doesn't always have to be a stranger that is the instigator -- sometimes it is that nice boy you said yes to for a date. 

She also knows that our conversations are mostly judgment free (at least for now).  We've set the stage for her to come to us when she does have that moment at a party where she is uncertain about drinking.  Or when she felt uncomfortable with a boy's advances on a date.  Or when her friends are experimenting with bending the law, and she isn't sure how to not be involved with being labeled a loser.

So, I'm very proud of the open relationship with have with her.  I'm thrilled that she views me, her stepmom, as a confidant and a source to satiate her ever-increasing curiosity.  And I would plan to do the same thing with my biological children.  Some may think that will make me a bad mother; one that is not protecting my children as long as possible from the scary, complex outside world.  I think the children will be prepared for everything that comes their way, and will be as equipped as possible to make intelligent, independent decisions no matter what the situation.  Because let's face it - if the kid is not going to trust the parent to have these conversations, he or she will listen to the best friend's sister's boyfriend, and that's how you end up at the hospital with your tongue swelled up from a rogue piercing gone wrong. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

!-- Site Meter -->