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Comments about ‘Dangerous silence: Why you need to talk to your kids about sex’

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Published: Saturday, May 26 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Jeanie b.
Orem, UT

This article is right on.

We often tell our kids that there is nothing they can say or ask us that will shock or disturb us - there's nothing we haven't heard. (Now, in reality we may be a little shocked but that is where the parental "poker face" comes in handy.)

Gratefully, they have come with questions and topics on their minds. Even my teenage boys will talk to me (about stuff I just rather not hear, but I have to because I am the parent). Some things have not been easy to deal with, but we try to make it as natural to talk about sex as the weather.

sergio
Phoenix, AZ

A big part of the problem is that too many parents are not well enough informed or qualified to talk constructively about sex with thier children. That is why much of the teaching in the area of sex education is left up to the teachers and professional in the schools. But then there are too many parents who will not support the schools in sex education, or they out right oppose it. And that is why most of the sex education students receive is from peers who may not be that good of a source. It seems the schools may be the best answer to sex education, at least they are some what accountable.

Furry1993
Clearfield, UT

We never had a "birds and bees" discussion with our sons. We didn't have to. They received their sex education, in age-appropriate bits and pieces, throughout their lives. We never worried about their having sex education in school because they had already learned more in the way of accurate facts than were presented in the class. I really feel sorry for the teenagers who don't get the facts that way and, sadly, they're the ones who need the classes the most but whose parents keep them out.

Demo Dave
Holladay, UT

Great artcle! It would be nice if every parent would read this and heed its advice, but that's not possible. Besides, no one can teach what they don't know, and too many parents are ignorant about the topic of sex, other than perhaps the basic mechanics of it. Many of them don't even know the correct terminology for body parts and functions, and even if they do, they often use substitute words instead. This robs a child of the chance to know essential information about his or her body, and can result in a lifetime of shame and confusion. If parents aren't up to the task, we should allow the schools to do it.

Lasvegaspam
Henderson, NV

Sergio, I completely disagree. What makes the topic of sex ANY different than money, politics or religion? And these topics are continually taught within the family. It is not only the right and duty of the parents to convey information about sex and intimacy to their children, it is their privilege.

My grown children also could not point to a single “talk”, because it fails as the best way to teach. The teaching of intimacy or sexual behavior, and doesn’t this just mean “behavior of the sexes – male and female”, is taught continually within the family. It’s gleaned by your kids as they watch your behavior with your spouse – good and bad. And actions speak louder than words. When a husband lovingly puts his arms around his wife and kisses her, the message is being broadcast (in living color) to the children. When a wife says cute and loving things to her husband in front of the children, guess who is learning how husbands and wives gain happiness from intimacy, and what intimacy actually is? The culture created within the family teaches this.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

sergio,

The fact that parents created their children qualifies them, the problem is when parents do not desire to make it constructive and for the benefit and protection of their children..

Furry1993,

All parents must answer this obligation or they will be held accountable or answer for its consequences. Every parent is morally obligated to teach their children. Mechanics aside, there are moral lessons needed for responsible decision making. It's simple cause and effect. An understanding of 'creating life' doesn't translate to understanding how to parent, rear, provide, and take on life-changing responsibilities- let alone other moral implications that can result from such actions. Teaching a guy how to operate a gun says nothing abort morality. Teaching them when to use or not use it is just as requisite to teaching responsibly.

"Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

kargirl
Sacramento, CA

I have to agree with Demo Dave. Unfortunately, like the driver who should know the rules of the road but fails to pull over for an emergency vehicle and causes a major accident, many parents--too many--are parents who are not able to pass on the rules of the sexual road to their offspring. It might be lack of knowledge, especially if they weren't taught, or embarassment, or fear; the outcome at best is that they will all be lucky and nothing bad will happen. But don't bet on it. The schools may not teach, they cannot, certainly teach, the sacredness of sex, or the wonder of that gift as a marriage present to one's beloved. The school cannot let the child know how he/she will feel if the gift to one's current "special" someone is thrown back at them the next day, versus the great warmth of two hearts and minds being one in a total, sharing relationship as grown people in a union meant to last a lifetime. This is parent work, and getting over the nervousness would be worth it, would it not?

gauchograndy
Centerton, AR

Two great resources for talking to your kids about sex are:

"Where Do Babies Come From?" by Brad Wilcox and "Growing Up: Gospel Answers About Maturation and Sex" also by Brad Wilcox.

The first is appropriate for even young young children, while the second is a good resource for those 10 years and older.

We've found both books helpful in our family.

skeptic
Phoenix, AZ

RE: Voice of Reason,
You state: The fact that parents created their children qualifies them, the problem is when parents do not desire to make it constructive and for the benefit and protection of their children.

If only it were that simple, but having sex or experiencing sex is not a qualfication for understanding or teaching sex education. Even dogs and cats have sex and many human parent understand about as much about it as animals do, and that is the problem that is being addressed in families, schools and communities today. Of course, many parents are great at helping the children understand the subject; but too many are not and they are the ones that need support and help. But at the same time it does not hurt those who know all there is to know about the subject to receive a refresher course; they too just might learn something new.

My2Cents
Taylorsville, UT

Schools? Teachers? Professional? And Planned parent hood, a 3rd party private and activist vendors of lies and deceptions so they can program and promote sexual promiscuity with lies about choices after they have sex. Formal medical education may be tolerable, but 3rd party advocate ringers invading our schools are not to teach our children their polices and plans.

The real problem I had encountered with my children is that schools, education, and planned parenthood was undermining the authority of parents telling children not to trust or beleive our views and expectations on their behaviors. This undermining of our rights as parents make it difficult to get our children to have a meaningful discussion, we have already been defeated in our authority and children walk away from our discussions. Once schools and planned parenthood indoctrination policy is out of the way, parents can regain authority.

No, schools and professionals should not undermine parents. If we want to teach our children to abstain that is our choice and the schools have no right to hand out condoms condoning and undermining the authority of parental choices not to experiment with condoms in their pockets.

Thinkman
Provo, UT

Christians and many of those from other faiths often are taught that sex is dirty and inherently evil. They are often taught also that the human body should be covered up because it is shameful to show bare shoulders or too much leg.

Teens, being naturally curious as they are then often go to the extreme and experiment and seek out porn or promiscuous relationships and then get into trouble.

Open honest and direct communication on sex with our pre-teens will help curb their natural curiosity of things that are taught as taboo.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

skeptic,

My experience has been that caring parents and bishops have given wise counsel, and teachers teaching sex-ed aren't.

Just because someone gets a degree that says "I'm competent" doesn't actually make them competent. Who qualifies a therapist? Socrates put it best when he said "know thyself" because self-reflection is essential to progress. A lot of counselors or mental health experts simply help people examine their own mental process. The majority of teachers I interacted with weren't qualified in such a way as to be considered any more qualified than parents and bishops.

Moreover, a parent can provide a one-on-one 'session' and address individual needs. Those sessions can be every day, not just once a week. Therapy isn't available to every student. School maturation programs are more like mass-produced chicken factory. There is a very real difference.

When a parent has the desire and will to care for their children, they have the potential of understanding their children's psychological needs more than anyone else.

Parents know more than animals and the mechanics involved. They know their children. They know their experiences. Nothing surpasses the qualifications of caring parents.

Lasvegaspam
Henderson, NV

Concerning the teaching of the mechanics of sex, may I add that the mystery of actual intercourse is part of the joy and beauty of the wedding experience for our young adult children. They look forward (just as you and I did) to exploring this new aspect of life with their husband/wife. For thousands of years the barnyard has been enough to instruct in the mechanics of sex. Can I ask you, Sergio and other who think like you, did someone have to instruct you on the intercourse part of intimacy, or did you and your wife learn together?

“Intimacy Instruction” is learned in the home, and always has been. “Sex” is learned through experience of the couple having it.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

skeptic,

An even better point to make is that parents teaching their children something with moral consequences cannot be universally taught, unless the person teaching is a perfect moral being. If God taught the class, I'd accept sex-ed in schools. Religion aside, the thought experiment still adequately describes the moral problem with sex-ed.

I believe that sex before marriage is wrong. You don't. How do we reconcile these beliefs in a maturation program? Even if reconciled, teachers may not honor agreements. I had a bishop that taught me one thing, and in sex-ed in school my teacher taught me something contrary to that (contrary to school policy).

The state doesn't run our lives, we do.

I often say with same-sex marriage arguments, that the state doesn't 'give is' rights, but we authorize the state to protect rights we already had. How can a state teach us what's moral? It can't. It is our responsibility to define our state, define our morals, teach our children, etc. Freedom requires that we govern ourselves, not that 'the system' tells us how life works, what's moral, etc. That would be moral tyranny.

SportsFann
Bountiful, UT

Talking about sex with my kids has never been an issue. I think that is because I grew up in a home where sex was not considered taboo. I remember my father saying once, "Sex is great. It's worth waiting for so you and the person you love can really enjoy it." That stuck with me as a teenager. I have always shared that concept with my children. I believe sex should be talked about because if it is talked about children can learn about appropriate boundaries and what true love is about. I am amazed how many people have gotten married with no discussion of sexuality until the day of their wedding. Just my 2 cents.

thelogicalone
salt lake city, UT

We could probably ask any group of teenagers or adults whose parents had "the talk"with them, and then ask their parents if they had "the talk" with their children and get different answers. I think parents explain the emotional and maturity aspects while throwing in a little biology while the kids want graphics and pictures. The kids get what they want anywhere in the world, in the school, on the internet. They can't get what their parents can teach anywhere else.

Joggle
Clearfield, UT

Your job as a parent is to guide your child toward finding a true sense of self. You create a secure sense of structure for your child by educating him or her about your own beliefs and values, but it is a wise parent who also teaches children to think on their own. This has to be done in age appropriate stages, of course. One of the things we are entrusted to teach our children is the difference between right and wrong which can be done with or without religion.

No realistic parent believes he or she can be the only source of sexual information to a child. The media, the peer group, and the school will all play large, small, and often mixed roles. Parents with the right message and the right timing can preempt negative and harmful information. They can also create a positive frame of reference and an effective filter through which kids can interpret and internalize what is useful and helpful to them, and screen out or set aside what is harmful or dangerous.

While parents SHOULD take responsibility in this area...they often don't....so an comprehensive optional sex education program must be available.

A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Joggle,

"One of the things we are entrusted to teach our children is the difference between right and wrong which can be done with or without religion."

If there is a God who is indeed a morally perfect being, as so many theistic religions claim- then there is a problem with that statement. If the LDS Church is true, then what is moral cannot be obtained but by revelations from God.

Philosophers have debated this point for thousands of years. You can easily argue that 'if God is real, then...' but the alternative argument- 'without God I can know what is moral' cannot be justified. Unless you are omniscient and know everything, then nothing you know is absolute and definitively known. So without God, you can't know right from wrong unless you were God yourself. With God you can know. To me, this inherently proves that God is required for morality and justice to even exist.

This point is highly off-topic, but as you mention a 'no need for religion to know morality', I couldn't help but reply.

A Scientist
Provo, UT

So much handwringing and fear mongering by the believers, who think individual sexual behavior is the biggest problem on the planet, and who assume, and treat their kids as if they haven't got a brain in their heads.

Kids are smarter than you think, and when you presume to play moral policemen for them, you undermine their innate moral sensibilities. You also provoke them so that they have to rebel and experiment to discover their own moral conscience. This is why the Bishops' and Stake Presidents' kids are often the wildest!

jrgl
CEDAR CITY, UT

my two cents:
Since you live in Taylorsville, UT your children won't be handed out condem at school, nor will they even hear the word "condom" in the public schools as the legislature nixed that word from schools & your local biology or health teacher could be fired for even saying it.
Students in Utah must have a signed parental permission ship to participate in the Sex Ed.
You forget we are an abstinence only state. Even the 5th grade maturation program requires a signed note.
The problem arises when parents shirk their job and fail to teach basic information to their children. This article is really well written and the bullet points at the end offer real ideas that would work. I would have liked to read an LDS example instead of the "Christian church" examples from other states. What is working & not working here for Utah parents?

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