President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, speaks in August. (Photo: AP)
In the wake of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh being accused of sexual assault as a teenager, many have shared high school stories of their own. Things they’ve either witnessed or things that have happened to them. Some may even be re-evaluating events that they first thought weren’t a big deal — but they are. A mature look back perhaps. But that’s the problem when talking about the sins of our teen years.
As teens, thought we knew what we were doing, but in many regards, we didn’t. We were intrigued and excited about adult things like sex and alcohol but afraid of them at the same. That ambivalence is what drives bad decisions and results in deep scars.
As teens we got ourselves into situations that in hindsight we easily judge, pick apart and relabel as wrong or just plain stupid no matter what perspective you adopt. Me? Per usual, I blame the adults. And this time, I’m going to blame the fears parents have when tasked with talking to their children about sex.
It is your responsibility as a parent to talk to your children honestly about sex.
There exists the grand myth of “the talk” where we sit down and discuss “the birds and the bees” and then move forward, relieved to have it over with. It’s all so very cliche and ineffective.
What parents need to have is an ongoing conversation that starts at a young age. It’s a conversation that grows as the child grows, building trust so children understand that their parents are sources where questions — even the uncomfortable ones — get answered honestly.
We can’t let our kids fumble around on their own only to err on the side of accidental assault. Too much is at stake.
When kids do take health class and sex education in middle school and high school, they hear about logistics, pregnancy, disease and anatomy. Sex education doesn’t address things like pleasure and it certainly does not talk about consent. Sex is scary and yet it’s everywhere so it’s also very exciting.
Parents tend to be worried that by talking to their kids about sex and all of its complicated pieces, they are giving the green light for promiscuity.
But it is in these difficult conversations that we create generous and conscientious adults who understand the intricacies of intimacy.
With consent and care we create encounters beyond the flesh that are rooted in respect and, yes, mutual gratification — without shame for wanting it or enjoying how it feels to be touched. I want that for myself — why wouldn’t I want to teach that importance to my children?
If they don’t learn about sex from me, one quick Google search will unveil porn and more inaccurate representations of sex between consenting adults. Parents have to buffer the fictional input with meaningful conversation.
Teens need to understand that intimacy is not based in the confidence of having all the right “moves” for sexy time but in relationships and understanding of the needs — both physical and emotional — of the people involved.
How did we get this far in society with such clinical education of the most intimate of acts? Isn’t it time we start being honest with our children?
Sex is fun. Sure. But what maturity has taught most of us is that it’s a whole lot better in the presence of a respectful and mutually loving participant. It is worth the wait, and your partner deserves the time.
There’s a reason the Kavanaugh accusations have prompted such debate. We’ve heard too many inappropriate high-school stories that sound familiar, or we’ve been there ourselves.
Isn’t it time to help kids honestly understand the nuances of sexual experience? Remove the fear. Be brave. Be honest for your kids.
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