When Your Parents Can’t or Won’t Talk to You About Sexuality
Originally Published: October 3, 2011
Revised: October 16, 2013
Parents. They are those people that have taught us about the world from birth until whenever we decide to stop listening to them. They come in all shapes, sizes and levels of experience. However, even good parents are human, meaning they are prone to making mistakes and overlooking important things—things like sexuality, the most awkward possible topic of conversation between parents and children that I know of.
Lessons From My Mom & Dad
My parents have never really given me “the talk.” They never sat me down and explained it all. I remember asking at a young age what makes a woman have a baby. My mom just said parents decide to have a baby, but sometimes it happens on accident. For a while I believed in a world of spontaneous birth, where women willed themselves into pregnancy by thought, but had to be careful not to think about it if they didn’t want a child.
Then, around the beginning of sixth grade, things started changing. For some reason, girls seemed different, and I started to have this vague and inexplicable, yet strong, desire to touch them. It didn’t really make sense at the time, but I wanted to hug them and cuddle with them and to just be all over them. Sure I liked hugs before, but this was different; it felt stronger, almost forbidden.
At first, I didn’t know that babies and liking girls were connected, but over time I got clues from various sources about how everything works. My father actually only played a very small part in this learning process. The only lessons I got from him were the following:
My parents probably played a small part in my sexuality education, because it was so painfully awkward for all of us. The majority of what I learned actually came from television.
It is socially unacceptable to have a visible erection.
I shouldn’t have sex in eighth grade.
Masturbation is OK.
When I have sex, I should wear a “hat.”
These lessons are in chronological order. There were two years between each lesson, and each discussion lasted approximately five seconds.
My parents probably played a small part in my sexuality education, because it was so painfully awkward for all of us. The majority of what I learned actually came from television. Comedy Central to be exact. Yes, the majority of what I learned about sex came from stand-up comedians and South Park. Not exactly what most psychologists and educators would call “developmentally appropriate,” but I must say these sources were not at all shy when it came to sex, and they provided some facts. Sort of.
Trusted Sources of Information
OK, so maybe at first my knowledge of sex was a mix of things that were true and things that were meant to be jokes. But I still felt like I got a lot of useful information there. Only later through sex education classes did I unlearn all the satire that I took for fact and save myself a few potentially humiliating or even harmful misunderstandings.
Now, I understand that some parents don’t like to acknowledge their children’s sexuality, and vice versa, but just ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Children will grow up and start to have feelings and desires that put an end to their little, adorable, innocent stage of life; that’s a fact. Not teaching children about sexuality will not stop them from developing and becoming attracted to that girl or guy that sits in front of them in class. It will just leave them confused and full of questions that they’ll find answers for elsewhere. (Maybe even on Comedy Central.)
So, if you have questions about sex or sexuality, it may turn out to be worth bearing the awkwardness of asking your parents or guardians about it. Break the ice by asking them about what you may hear on television or from your peers, because there is always a pretty good chance what you’ve heard is a load of crap. If you think your parents are simply not people you can talk to about sexuality, then at least take the time to find a trusted source of information that offers advice from sexuality education experts. It could be a website—a website such as Sexetc.org.
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