Thanks in part to this Sarah Palin stuff, I have been forced to have that super-candid sex talk that turns every parent’s blood cold and invokes icky feelings for all involved, with my daughter The Diva, age 10.
We’ve talked about sex before, but in very generic terms- mostly just geared towards satisfying the “Where do babies come from?” question that every parent dreads.
Last night we got down and dirty.
The conversation started like this-
The Diva: “Mom, what does abstinence mean? I keep hearing it on TV…”
Me: “Well, it’s a word that means ‘no sex’. Some people feel that it’s best to teach children ‘abstinence’, so that they don’t have sex before they’re married.”
The Diva: “Is sex bad?”
Me: “No, it’s not bad… but it’s important to wait for the right person before you do it, because it’s a very big decision, and it comes with a lot of responsibility… it’s important to know how to protect yourself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases/infections.”
The Diva: “Oh, you mean like with a condom. Wait- what the heck is a sexually transmitted disease?”
I have to have this conversation right now??
These are the times when, as a mother, you begin to wish you were Catholic, and could send your daughter directly to the convent to become a nun.
Like ship her off right this second.
I am, however, a firm believer in the school of thought that says, “If they’re old enough to ask the question, they’re old enough to hear the answer”; in addition, I know from previous conversations that her friends are starting to have boyfriends…
I guess I figured, no time like the present.
So I took a deep breath and explained, as best I could, what an STD is… and how some of them are treatable but not all of them… we talked about how they’re contagious, but not like a cold is contagious… they’re only spread through sexual activity (at which point she asks, “like oral?”, promptly causing me to gag), and can be pretty scary, because not all STDs have symptoms associated with them.
We also talked about HIV/AIDS, how it’s spread, and that there is no cure… I told her that as a young black-woman-in-training, it’s important to understand that AIDS is currently the number one killer of African Americans.
I explained that she can guarantee she won’t contract it by choosing not to have sex.
She can almost guarantee she won’t contract it, should she choose to have sex, by insisting on using condoms every single time.
By the time I was finished talking to her, especially about AIDS, she was completely freaked out, and for now at least, has a healthy respect for the concept of the condom.
She understands that literally, the decision to use one could some day save her life.
I told her I want her to wait until she’s married before she has sex, but that it is her choice make.
She wanted to know if I would be angry with her if she chose, years from now of course, to have sex prior to getting married.
I swallowed hard, tried to get a handle on the all-out fear that gripped me in my gut… swallowed my instinct to tell her she should just wait til marriage, period, end of conversation… and feeling as if I were giving the speech of my life, said…
“No. I wouldn’t be angry. As much as I want you to wait for marriage, it’s something I want for your sake, not mine, because it will make your life easier. There are so many responsibilities that come with sex. But this is your body, and it’s your decision- I’ll respect your choice, no matter what you decide. What’s most important is that we’re honest with each other, and talk about these things as much as possible, even if it makes you a little nervous. If you were to decide that you’re ready to have sex, the biggest thing would be that you come to me so we can get you on the pill and get you some condoms. At the end of the day, I just need you to be safe, protected and responsible.”
She allowed what I’d just said to sink in for a minute… and then slowly began nodding her head…
“Ok Mom, I hear you. If I ever decide to have sex, I’ll tell you.”
Then she grinned and said, “You’ll be one of the first to know!”
I actually threw up a little in my mouth… I mean…
This is scary stuff, you know?
I have mixed feelings about the conversation.
Did I just condone sex to my 10 year old Diva?
Or perhaps I just had a candid, real conversation… taking that first step to opening the door to honest communication in the future…
That’s what I hope I did.
I wonder how much of this “abstinence only” doctrine is nothing more than a selfish excuse for parents not to have the conversation with their own kids that I had with mine last night…
I mean, it was a nerve wracking conversation… but it was necessary, just like all the other sex talks we’ll have in the future.
I find myself longing for the days when parenting consisted of changing her poopy diapers, making sure she’s fed… warm… and has not a care in the world.
She’s becoming a woman, a beautiful young woman, and like most others her age… she is growing up way faster than I ever wanted her to… but that is no excuse to shirk my responsibilities to her…
It’s time to buy a shotgun.