Monday, March 3, 2008

Sex, Drugs, and Parenthood

Over at Marge in Real Life Marge wrote a post about this whole kids wearing mohawks issue and she raises the issue of how honest and open parents should be in answering difficult questions about sex and drugs.

Since my kids are young, I have not had to deal with this yet, but I know it is coming. Of course how we deal with these issues will depend on who our kids are at the time, their maturity level and their personalities. But in general, I think I know how we will respond.

I am not squeamish discussing sex as an act or the biological function of it. So far, I have been very open with Sweet Pea. We use the correct name for body parts. We have had a very basic where-babies-some-from discussion. Just last week, Sweet Pea observed me inserting a tampon and we had a bare-bones menstruation conversation.

When the kids are teenagers, I know we will have to deal with the question of if and when they should have sex. I do not believe it is responsible or rational to just tell them to wait until they are married. The vast majority of kids have sex before marriage and I don't think that it is reasonable to expect them not to. I also do not want anyone to get pregnant and would like to make sure they birth control options if they have made the decision to have sex. And of course I would want them to practice safe sex. I suppose I will tell them that sex has an emotional consequence and they should think very hard about their decision and make sure they have sex only with a partner they love and only in a monogamous relationship. And I will probably help them obtain birth control and make sure they know how to practice safe sex.

If they ask me about my sexual history, I will probably be very open with them, especially with Ladybug. There is so much pressure on young women to be sexual and I want to try to head that off. I would tell her that I have had sex with more men than just my husband, and that I deeply regret some of those encounters. I will explain to her that sometimes women have sex in order to make them feel loved and that this never works. I will tell her that having sex with someone who you are not in a relationship with almost never ends well and makes you feel worse in the end. I hope that she will never go looking for love in one night stands or casual relationships and I hope that my being honest with her about the consequences of my past actions will help prevent that.

I also am not worried about discussing alcohol use. It is a topic that we will have to address very seriously as alcoholism appears in both our families and I went through a period of alcohol abuse myself. I know that we will be bluntly honest about this topic.

What I do struggle with is drug use. I am not concerned about discussing my limited drug use since drugs have never held any appeal to me. My experimentation was brief and restricted to fairly benign drugs. I do question how far my husband should go in discussing his past. His drug exposure was much more involved than mine and involved more serious drugs. I am not sure how honest he should be in this because he never had any real problems resulting from drug use. It would be easy for a teenager to think well, Dad did it and he turned out fine. Or some teens might see Dad's drug use as a challenge and something they should try to live up to. I just don't know how in depth we should go with this.

What are your feelings on honesty in discussions on sex and drugs?


Jennilu said...

Well, I am going to print your post and keep it in a file to reference when needed for the BIG sex talk with Kaylea. We have had the biology referenced talk, but not the emotions/consequences talk, yet. I will be holding off on that one for a couple of years (I think/hope!) As for the drugs talk, we have it all the time. As stupid as this may sound, within the last few months, we have started watching the A&E show Intervention. I figure she needs to see the negative consequences of using drugs and how it not only affects her but her family and friends, as well. We always talk during the commercial breaks and after the show about what happened and how the person probably started out with just experimenting with friends. Hopefully, one day she will think back to one of those episodes when she is confronted with, "oh, come one, just once won't hurt you."

andi said...

As far as the sex discussion goes, I think it should be fine. My mom offered to get me the pill as a teen and I'd like to think I'm realistic enough to not be so deluded as to think my kids won't have sex if I ask them not to. As for the drug thing, I'm not sure. It gets tricky because although we never were into anything hardcore (just some pot in college), the hubs is currently an addictions counselor.

How do you explain all the different types of drugs to kids? I wonder this because when I was a teen I thought marijuana was akin to heroin - both equally evil because they were illegal. Ya, I was all about the black and white back then. Hopefully my kids will have a bit more sense.

Anonymous said...

In my own experience, my parents sheltered the crap out of me. For all the wonderful things they taught me about the natural world, sex, drugs and rock n roll were never in the picture. Apparently they were all so evil that it was bad mojo to even think about them. Yes, my parents had plenty of sex but it was never talked about.

I remember as a teenager (17 maybe?) asking my mom some tough questions about her experiences. She did tell me that my dad is the only person she ever slept with (although I did some math and it's clear that my sister was conceived a few motnhs before they got married). She squirmed her way out of the drugs and alchohol truths completely and the only reason I know anything about her past is because my dad was kind enough to share what little he's been told.

Molly, I understand your hesitations but I know for certain that the things you don't tell your kids, they will find out for themselves - and not likly from sources you would approve of. Better you should be the one to tell them. Better they should never have to wonder why you didn't offer them the whole truth. What they don't know can hurt them.

richgold said...

Sex and drugs. Well, my older (11 and 9) kids will have already been introduced to some of those things by now.

I've had two more children with my second husband, and when we were reading the baby-making books geared for kids, my daughter asked me if I'd ever done THAT (pointing to the picture of the cartoon woman on top of the cartoon man - there were two cats in the corner getting it on too).

I told her yes - twice with her father and twice with her step-father ;-).

The older kids' father is gay and is now in a gay relationship. Considering he had trouble with the concept of monogamy when we were married, I wouldn't be surprised if that still was an issue for him.

It will be interesting to hear his side of things, considering he takes a very very different take on when it's ok to start having sex (he started VERY VERY VERY early, and I'd started relatively late).

Then there's the issue of safer sex (there's not such thing as safe sex, and taking a pill isn't going to stop STDs. Condoms don't stop everything either.) I'll be telling my kids that every time they play, they could have to pay. Condoms do break. STDs are passed and are a permanent symbol of some one else's transgressions on you. Pregnancy is the least of my worries. It's all pretty serious, and life changing stuff. Plus, the emotional side of things.

Re drugs - I'm kind of worried about that, but not too badly. I'm more worried about tattoos and piercings. Sorry. It's my prejudice. (Ex's partner looks a bit on the creepy side ...)

Stuff I'm worried about too is that my kids might be stupid in a moment and get in a car with some one that's been drinking, might get bullied and not know what to do about it, might be manic depressive (it runs in the family). Oh there's soooo much to worry about and so little time! ;-)