Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sex and parenting.


There was an article in salon.com regarding teenage sexuality in the Netherlands that I found very intriguing and pertinent. (please read it now) The basic idea is that by being supportive, not just informative or turning a blind eye, to your teenager's sexuality and sexual expression, the odds of them experiencing negative consequences to sexual behavior are greatly reduced. This particular take is pretty squarely at odds with what I learned growing up, and I find myself not as far down the road of enlightenment as I had hoped. ;)


Poly has been one of the most useful instruments in my reprogramming process about sex I've used, and I'm eager to see how growing up in a more open environment will improve my daughter's experiences in life, particularly in sexual expression. Let's face it: As parents, we often use our kids as guinea pigs to replay things that weren't optimal for us, and have a re-do by proxy. Kind of sounds yucky, but why wouldn't someone want to provide a (in their eyes) better life experience for their offspring?


My family had a very clear delineation for appropriate sexual expression: Are you married? Well then! You get to have sex, and even enjoy it, because God says it's ok! Not married yet? Don't even _think_ about it! Don't do it, don't fantasize about it, don't get information about it. We'd greatly prefer you don't masturbate, date, or consider pleasure a positive.


When I "became a woman", my mother gave me a pamphlet that explained feminine hygiene products, and that I could become pregnant now. It was so obviously uncomfortable to my parents that, when I was 12 and hemorrhaged from my uterus, I was embarrassed to the point that I almost bled to death before I went to an adult for help. We still didn't talk about anything "down there".


A couple of weeks prior to my wedding, my mother took me aside and asked me if I had any questions for her about "marital duties". I shit you not. Exercising an immense amount of self-control, I didn't laugh in her face, but assured her calmly that I had already taken it upon myself to research the topic, and felt capable of handling my duties to my husband.


Once the magical ceremony took place that made all of those activities blessed and permissible, my mom took delight in ribbing me about breaking the bed, the amount of sleep we might be getting, and her own frisky nature. It was clear that my rather abundant libido is my mother's doing, genetically speaking, and for many years, it was something that I considered a burden.


Since my daughter was very young, my take has been that if she's old enough to ask a question, she's generally old enough to hear the answer. She's pretty curious by nature, so we've had a lot of conversations surrounding menstruation, sex, body parts, birth control and childbirth. She recently watched her own birth video, and found it fascinating! Generally, I think it's going pretty well.


Then I read this article, and realize that I still have a ways to go as a parent, because all of that makes sense, but it's way out of our cultural norms. I have enough of a challenge creating opportunities to have sleep overs with MY lovers! What is it going to be like when she asks me to help her have a partner over? Should I get her a vibrator? Am I going to be reminding her to take the pill? How do I have a reasonable conversation with other parents about our kid's sexual life, and being supportive of that, when it's likely that they'll get hung up on me being poly, or bi, or whatever excuse is needed to derail things away from our precious babies wanting to boff?


Well, at least I have a few more years to work out a game plan, and make sure that she knows that, while she's in the driver's seat on this topic, I'll be helping her cover the insurance, driver's ed, and the occasional tank of gas.
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