I want to talk about sex. Don’t freak out and leave, I’m so not interested in specifics or TMI, but rather, I have been thinking about some of the married LDS women I have become friends with, and the common situation several have abashedly or quietly shared with me about their experience with sex. These are my observations only, and not meant to be blanket or value statement about anyone else’s experience
One of the things stressed in many Christian religions, and the LDS religion in particular, is keeping chaste before marriage. The social and personal benefits to this are easy to imagine- specifically in the arenas of heath issues, unplanned pregnancies and the horrible problems that box opens up, to the intangible but vital self-respect gained when treating oneself as special and treasured. In my observation as a relative outsider, joining the church as a married adult, I can clearly see the benefits, believe it is a good principle on every level. Almost.
Almost? Yes, almost. Here is what I have noticed. Several of my women friends were so unprepared for sex when they got married, so uninformed about what was to happen, what to expect, and what was normal, that they were shocked, hurt and frightened by their own wedding nights. If I have encountered this in the small number of women who would confide in me, I can only imagine this is a much larger problem. So my questions: Does keeping chaste have to mean keeping silent about sex? Is it fair or good mothering to send our daughters (or sons) into something so important and (hopefully) wonderful, completely unprepared?
While I am well aware of the discussion and comments going on at other boards right now, I have decided not to link. If you are interested, have at it, but do so at your own discretion. What I am more interested in is why so many parents are apparently uncomfortable talking with their own children about sex. My only guess (and it is just that- a guess) is that if parents are not comfortable with their own sexuality, it would be darn near impossible for them to teach healthy sexual information to their children. In no way do I mean to suggest a parent should ever share personal stories or other information about their own sexual relationship, but rather I am thinking of teaching our youth facts. Facts about how and why their bodies work the way they do, what actually happens to your body during sex, and what to realistically expect. Both our young women and young men need this kind of information, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why, with wink and a nudge, we are sending our kids to the altar and onto the bedroom.
Talking to your kids about sex is not questionable moral ground- frankly discussing our marvelous bodies in a timely and age-appropriate way is laying the groundwork for healthy individuals later in life. Don’t be squeamish, don’t be embarrassed. If you always are open with your children, give them the proper names for their body parts and functions, and answer their questions honestly (even if you say “I don’t know”), they will likely be comfortable with this conversation as they mature. And for heaven’s sake, don’t save everything up for one “big talk” at some arbitrary date- how awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. Wouldn’t you rather they get good, reliable information from you, rather than half-truths gleaned from whispered locker-room tidbits?
My kids are little still, so we haven’t had to cross very many bridges on this, but I know my mother was honest and frank with me and my siblings, and I always went to her when I heard something unbelievable from a friend or peer. It is my hope I can be the same open door for my children that my mother was for me.
(And hopefully, my daughters and sons-in-law’s will reap the benefits!)