Sex, as a topic, with your children … hmmm.
Most people who know me would tell you I am a totally open book. I don’t shy away from the most intimate of topics. And I don’t judge. But now that the topic of sex has come up with my teenagers, I’m in a little bit of new territory. How much do I say? How much does what I think about sex figure in to what they think about sex?
I am far from a prude, and I don’t profess to know everything there is to know about sex as it pertains to today’s youth, although as I understand it, there seems to be much more openness and much less hair involved. So I find myself in the position of holding up my hands and saying “Whatever works.”
The main points to make are that both parties are equally engaged and enjoying themselves and that you don’t always have to go all the way. Oh, and be sure to use protection, because even though I am dying to have cute little grandchildren, there is so much you want to do before having kids.
These days, I find it hard to even assume that my kids’ partners will be of a specific gender, and I think I’m homophobic if I even suggest there might be limitations to who they might seek pleasure with. We talk a lot about “gender,” which used to be limited to two varieties, but now has opened up far wider, and I find myself checking my one-time assumptions at the door.
There seems to be so much exploration, and who am I to say what is right? Once upon a time, I might have supported the idea of seeking only opposite-sex pleasure because otherwise my grandparent-hood would be in jeopardy, but now I have loads of friends in same-sex marriages who are blissfully engaged parents of beautiful children, so that is no longer a concern.
The thing about sex that is the most difficult is finding the right person to engage in it with, the person with whom you’re comfortable and easy and whom you might find the greatest intimacy and enjoyment. That, unfortunately, is something I cannot help my kids with. I remember how hard that was, how difficult those times were in between relationships when you wanted nothing else but the closeness of another human, and no human around seemed to be amenable or appealing in that way. Ugh.
I think it is most important to feel comfortable with yourself, and to know yourself and your body. The next thing is to be able to get outside of yourself enough to see and hear other people. Then, maybe, you have a chance to connect.
True connection is awesome. I cannot speak highly enough of it to my children. It is really a great blessing to feel intimate enough with another person to want to lock lips with them, and then, maybe, other parts. Even though it is always the case that we are alone in that existential sense, those intimate connections are the closest we come to feeling, ideally, like someone else in the world can share in our same small universe.
There are so many questions that I can’t answer, the “hows” and “whens” of their intimate relationships. The “whys” are particularly hard: Why indeed do those intimate connections feel so good, why do you want to engage with one person and not another? That last is impossible to answer. I was in a writing class once where I was attempting to get at the magical connection with another human when an older graying beauty with a smoker’s rasp held up her left hand dramatically and said, “Why are you trying to explain it? It’s just chemistry.”
I think I failed high-school chemistry. I never understood how, if you took a little bit of this and a little bit of that, you end up with something else.
That said, I hold up my hand as that woman did in my class when my son turns to me with his big questioning eyes. “I don’t know, honey,” is my response to why attraction happens with some people and not others. “That is the great mystery.”
I try to present that mystery as a positive rather than the negative. I try to say that the not knowing when or where or with whom is the fun and magic of life, even though it sometimes feels more like a nightmare.
It is a complex topic to explore, and much of it is not going to be explained by mom, and yet I am happy to be a resource and a shoulder to lean on when the going gets tough.
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