Talking to Mom and Dad About Love, Sex and Relationships
Originally Published: October 4, 2012
Revised: October 17, 2014
I remember being eight years old on a summer night, sitting in the car cross-legged on the seat, looking out the window as my mom asked me about boys. Boys? That was the last thing on my mind as an eight-year-old, but it’s now a major thing on my mind as an 18-year-old heterosexual girl.
That night will always be ingrained in my mind because it started the open dialogue I now have with my parents about relationships, love and sex. As I move on to college, it’s great to have parents who are laid back when it comes to talking about these subjects because anytime I’m curious, I don’t have to hold back.
No matter what I’m dealing with—love, sex, relationships—I know I can go to my parents…
For instance, I can tell my dad about how frustrating a romantic situation is, and talking to him makes everything better. Whenever I tell my dad about a guy I’m interested in, he’s quick to say, “How’s his credit?” Although I know he’s joking, I understand that he’s really asking about what’s important to this guy, how responsible he is and what kind of future there would be with him.
I often get attached to people easily. Sometimes it backfires on me, like the time I went all out for this guy I had a crush on. I baked him cupcakes. I stayed up late texting him, and then the next day, I took two trains and got lost walking to his soccer game, which I only saw 20 minutes of. This guy stopped talking to me about two weeks after that. My dad is the one who usually helps me shake off the hurt and disappointment of situations like this.
My dad tells me not to overcomplicate my life right now. He’s taught me that during this time in my life, between college, scholarships, work and major decision making, it’s not worth getting stressed over a complex relationship. And if I do get involved, Dad has good advice for that, too.
“The bare minimum is using a condom,” says Dad. “You need to think about all the other factors as well.” By “all the other factors,” he means being clear about your emotions—how you feel and what you want in a relationship—and making sure you do what you need to do to prevent a pregnancy and reduce the chances of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Dad’s advice? “Date! Not just go have sex, but date some quality individuals so you get the hang of it.” That’s a thought I’ll be carrying with me as I enter college this fall.
Balancing Heart and Head
My mom comes from a religiously strict and old-fashioned culture where it was taboo to talk about sex and sexuality. She hated the fact that everything had to be hidden when it came to sex. She decided to provide a nurturing environment for her own children where it would be alright to discuss sex, so her children wouldn’t feel like they had nowhere to go, as she had felt.
My mom understands that relationships can be painful and complex sometimes. She’s told me, “Think with your head and not with your heart. Your head can tell you one thing, and your heart can tell you another. And you can end up with your heart broken.” All this is the advice my mom has given me. I tend to think with my heart way too much. It’s caused heartbreak because I was too vulnerable and open. But the good news is I’ve learned there’s a balance between listening to your heart and making a choice with your head.
You have to know who you are. Anytime I go anywhere, with anyone, my parents remind me to remember that. By being in tune and comfortable with myself, I will make the decisions that are best for me. My parents understand that while they can’t force their children to make certain decisions, they need to support them. No matter what I’m dealing with—love, sex, relationships—I know I can go to my parents, as my mom came to me when I was a little girl.
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