written by Love Isn’t Enough contributor Renee; originally published on Womanist Musings
I have always said that once you have a couple of kids, they function as great birth control. Every time the unhusband and I get close to each other, one of them ALWAYS needs something. Last week, the unhusband had gone to lie down because his back was hurting and he wanted to stretch out. After about 30 mins, I decided to join him thinking that a mid day cuddle might be nice. Within five minutes, Mayhem was at the door yelling, “what are you two doing in there? Can I come in?” We told him no. One minute later we again heard, “but I’m bored and I want to come in,” to which we again answered, “no”. Every few minutes for the next 15 minutes, the same exchange happened.
It finally ended when Destruction came upstairs and said to his little brother, “Mayhem, sometimes mommies and daddies just need to spend a little time alone.” The unhusband and I giggled, while Mayhem continued to let us know that it was not fair that we were in our room playing without him. Being the awesome kid that he is, Destruction took Mayhem to his room and they watched a movie on Netflix, until the unhusband and I decided to get up.
As soon as the bedroom door opened the questioning began AGAIN. This time however it came from Destruction. “So, what were you two really up to in there all that time”, he asked. We were just cuddling and talking the unhusband answered. “Are you sure?” Destruction queried? “Umm yeah,” the unhusband said, before he walked into the shower. A look of mistrust crossed Destruction’s face, but he let it go.
It took me awhile to figure out what was up with the questions and then it dawned on me that he thought that we were having sex. Of course you know I absolutely lost it laughing. If only he knew that he was just as responsible as his brother for the decline of our sex life in the last 10 years.To be honest, I don’t know how the Duggars managed to have so many kids.
He is well aware that his father and I have sex from time to time, and is absolutely repelled by it as he should be. He has finally moved beyond the idea that sex is something abstract, to something that people actually participate in, though he is sure that he and his brother are immaculate conception. Of all the babies born in the world, Destruction and Mayhem are the only two brought by the stork LOL.
I don’t need them to be comfortable around their own conception, but I do need them to understand that sex is not illicit, dirty, or wrong, despite all of the negative images surrounding sex in the media. I want them to understand that sex is not something that they have to rush into on a ridiculous quest to prove their masculinity, and that it is an act of sharing and caring between two people. I want them to be considerate partners, and understand that this is not about their pleasure alone. I want them to have the confidence to ask what they don’t know or understand and most of all, I want them to believe deeply in affirmative consent and safe sex.
To that end, the unhusband and I did not wait until our kids approached puberty to talk to them about sex. We have been having a series of conversations since they were both toddlers. For us it began by giving them the correct names for body parts and escalating slowly as their questions and ability to understand increased. Most recently, Destruction and I had a conversation about HIV/AIDS in which he asked me about whether or not his father and I still take precautions. Being monogamous for many years means that HIV/AIDS and not being intravenous drug users, this is something we no longer have to worry about and I shared that with him.
When we talk about sex, we both make sure to have lots of eye contact with them, so that they can see that we are not embarrassed and we don’t treat it any differently than any other topic that we discuss in our household. For the amount of time we spend agonizing and moralizing sex to teens, the most important conversations are always placed by the wayside. I think it is ridiculous to believe that just encouraging abstinence is the key, because it teaches them nothing and encourages the “everything but” virgins, who are just as susceptible to disease, rape and pain.
The other message that I am focusing on with Destruction recently is the idea that he has the right to sit in judgment of the sexual behavior of others. I also believe that this is an important message and it is specifically designed to tackle the issue of slut shaming. We have talked about the gendered nature of words like slut, whore and how when said by him, his male privilege works to turn these words into slurs and attacks on women. We have talked about the fact that there is no male equivalent to these words, and must include the word male slut, for the slur to be directed at a man, and how this serves as proof of the oppression of women.
Conversations about sex, have to be about so much more than the birds and bees. They are not simple and actually have to be a series of talks, rather than just the talk, as it is commonly called. Refusing to talk to kids means that someone else will be doing it for you, and thereby teaching them morals and inaccurate information. I am certainly no expert but I think a failure to consider the interlocking issues that come with sex and sexuality when talking to kids is doing them a disservice. Finally, the earlier these conversations start, the easier they are and the more likely they are to sink in. Not talking to children about sex, sexuality and gender, is not protecting children, it is simply serving them up to be abused or taken advantage of. Ignorance should never be hailed as a good thing.