While visiting my sister today, my son and I were sitting in the floor playing princesses with my 3 year old niece when my 10 year old said something like, “Let’s talk about ‘How to Make Love Like a Porn Star.'” I was taken back for a moment, then I realized that this is, of course, my kid, and he has not been sheltered. First of all, he doesn’t know how to make love like a porn star. On our recent trip to New York, he saw a copy of Jenna Jamison’s book on the shelf. We had a conversation about it. No biggy, just the title of a book, right? Well, I’ve gone back and forth in my mind about how to raise my kids. Should I shelter them? Should I expose them to things and have conversations about them? I went with the latter because I feel that it is better for them to hear it from me than someone else. I also feel that the more stigma or taboo we put on things, the more curious kids and teens become about them, driving them towards experimentation. So, we have regular conversations about sex, drugs, addiction, religion, crime, etc. My question is, am I corrupting my kids too early?
My daughter has a friend who is forbidden from reading things like Harry Potter and Twilight, while I encourage them so we can talk about it. Last year we read the entire series of Harry Potter, and we talked about the implications of religion within the books. We discussed the attractions that the characters felt. My kids were 9 and 11. My daughter read the Twilight series, and we watched the films when she turned 12. We talked about how Bella and Edward waited to have sex until they were married, even though this is not realistic in our day and time. Other parents know this, and I can feel them judging me when we share a bus to field trips.
My thing is that I am trying to be realistic. I know the statistics. I’ve taught middle school. I’ve heard 13 year old girls talk about getting pregnant and how cute their babies would be. I’ve also taught those girls who get pregnant and never finish school. I’ve seen kids on drugs, and I’ve even known kids who did sexual favors for drugs. So, I want my kids to know how real things are in this day and age. I want them to be informed about everything I can possibly think of.
We live in a very conservative state (Alabama), and abstinence is taught, which is good but unrealistic. Most of my friends lost their virginity around age 15, and that was 15 years ago. Today, the average age of girls losing their virginity is 13. So, I want my kids to be well-informed before they make that kind of decision.
In my own experience, I had one “talk,” and it went something like this, “Sex is something that should happen between a husband and wife.” My mom told me that she had raised me (I was around 13), and she hoped that I would make the right decision and tell her when I did. Luckily, I had a smart boyfriend who took me to the clinic to get on birth control. However, when we broke up, I wasn’t so smart, and I ended up pregnant my senior year of high school. This wasn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened to me, and in fact, I truly believe it was the best. My daughter changed my life for the better. Ignorance is not bliss when you’re a bored teenager in a small town. I was hanging out with a bad crowd and headed down a scary road filled with parties and drugs. Getting pregnant made me straighten my act up. But, like I said, I know that it could’ve been worse. Not having discussed the consequences of stupidity as a teenager, I was making horrible decisions. I put myself into a lot of situations that could have ended my life, and I now feel like it was mostly because I was a stupid teenager, but also because I was lectured instead of informed. There is a difference, especially for teens. Teens do not want to listen to adults telling them what to do and how stupid they are. Teens need guidance.
Ultimately, I know that in the end I will probably have screwed my kids up anyway because I am human. I’d just like to know someone else’s opinion on my parenting skills.