Talk about Sex, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
Let’s talk about sex, baby
Let’s talk about you and me
Let’s talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
Let’s talk about sex
I confess. I am not a parent. I have no kids. Never had, never attempted, never will. I have nieces and nephews scattered across the country, and I am a psuedo-parent to the teens and kids that come into my library. I check homework and I will throw them back to school if they try to skip a day and show up at the library.
However, I don’t need to be having sex talks with them. I realize that I may be the person they’re most comfortable with, but in all honesty, I am not the proper person to be having this conversation. Yes, I am more than knowledgeable about how things work. Yes, I am a trusted adult, and unless there is something going on that needs reporting I will keep confidences, but this should be a parent’s duty, not mine.
Please let me tell you, your tween and teen know about sex. Really, they do. NO, the public or school librarian is not handing out the books to them to corrupt their minds, nor did the 5th grade teacher who separated the outward genders for “the talk” start all the swirling in their heads. The sex ed course that you could have opted your kid out of did not do it either, even with the banana.
Nope, it goes with all the hormones and flirting and media and music and everything else they’re surrounded with (you had it too, don’t deny it), and it starts younger and younger. They’re hearing about it from their friends, from conversations at school, from TV and radio and commercials. And they’re coming away confused if you’re not talking to them.
Remember that scene in Kindergarten Cop?
I’ve been the recipient of that conversation.With the 5 year old. And getting a crying 9 year old to let me know that her period showed up unexpectedly, and we called her parent, while I tried to answer questions without overstepping boundaries that should be the parents’. And having a pair of 15 year olds beg me to take them to the local drug store to buy a pregnancy kit.
If you think your kids are going to be safe in whatever bubble wrap you keep them in, I hate to tell you that you might be wrong.
From the Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health (June 2013) from the Guttmacher Institute:
By age 15, the % of teens who are having sex starts doubling:
So what do you do?
TALK TO YOUR KID, PEOPLE. PLEASE?!?!?! And not just a one time, awkward conversation but a real dialogue about what happens.
If you need resources there are plenty out there, even based on your own personal viewpoint:
- From Planned Parenthood
- From The Mayo Clinic
- From Dr. Phil
- From Oprah
- From Focus On The Family
- From Christian Century
- From Birds + Bees + Kids
Important facts to go over no matter what:
- You will love your child no matter what action they choose
- Everyone goes through changes, and what those changes are, and that this is NORMAL
- No means no, and they are allowed to fight to defend themselves
- Touching is only right when it is consensual- doesn’t matter if it’s hugs, kisses, or more
- Peer pressure can be hard to resist, but it is ok to resist it.
- Never leaving drinks unattended at parties
- They can talk to you about anything at any time and there will be no judgement
Recommended books to share with your tweens and teens:
- What’s Happening to My Body for Girls
- What’s Happening to My Body for Boys
- My Body, My Self for Girls
- My Body, My Self for Boys
- Changing Bodies, Changing Lives: a Book for Teens on Sex and Relationships
- Sex: a Book for Teens
- My New Gender Workbook
- Queer: the Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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