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Monday, May 5, 2008

So How Much Do You Tell Your Daughter About Past Lives?

This is the question pondered in this Washington Post essay.

I've told Jennifer alot, but not all, like that one night-stand I had with an Israeli soldier-turned-tour-guide 25 years ago. I figure when she gets serious about someone I may have a deeper conversation about my love life with her.

She's already been asking about my first kiss (and I told her) and when I lost my virginity (in college...well depends on one defines virginity-another conversation I'm postponing with her).

So how much are you planning on telling your daughter or son?


MommyCheryl said...

Well, I don't have anything as exciting as an Israeli soldier-turned-anything so to start off I'm just a little envious...

I've thought quite a bit about this, not just in terms of sex but drugs. (Both topics would be much easier for Steph to give a full confession on.) Now, I was never a big druggie but I did do more than my share of binge drinking with a tad of experimenting in herbal entertainment. (That's usually what led to the embarassing moments in my sexual history so I guess they are related.)

Do I tell them that in college I took on the task of losing my virginity like some guy in a bad teenage comedy? And then learned that, despite what it seemed, I wasn't the only person I knew who didn't lose it in high school? Probably some version of that, sans the details that make their mother look like a sexual predator.

The problem is that we want to be our children's friends when they get older. We'd love to think of lunch dates with our 30-something child being something they relish rather than something they dread. But even if we do succeed in being someone our kids hang out with by choice, we're not going to be their "Sex in the City" friends who talk down and dirty details of who they did and how.

And really, we all have a right to keep some things private even from our best friends. We lose a lot as parents -- starting with our dignity during delivery. (Or a prenatal exam or a fertility treatment or invasive adoption forms.) But we don't lose the right to our privacy when it comes to our sexual pasts.

So, what will I tell them? I'll tell them I made mistakes and how that made me feel. I'll tell them that alcohol (or whatever) dulls your judgement -- and the judgement of that hot girl who suddenly seems available. I'll teach them to respect women and themselves and that taking advantage of someone who is drunk is just one spot on a continuum that includes grabbing a woman off the street and raping her. I'll tell them that everyone isn't doing that thing that "everyone is doing."

And I'll tell them that someday, the girl they are thinking of boinking and then ditching will probably be someone's mother. And when she tells her children about sex and how to treat people, you will be "that guy."

Barbara Clements said...

Very wise essay, Cheryl.

I think the thing I've stressed to J. now is that, once she gets to high school, there will be that "oh, everyone's having sex" mentality. First, as you noted, they are not. They may be talking as if they are, but they are not.

And even as adults, "Sex in the City" is not the way most adults handle their sex life (even tho I was a fan of the show). Most do not have sex on the first or second date. In fact, most adults don't have sex until a. after marriage or b. until they are or practically engaged.

And in high school and even in college, sex means very different things to men/boys than to women/girls. Until you know, really know this, don't let "that guy" talk you into the bedroom because "everyone is doing it."


Barbara Clements said...

Or let me rephrase that second paragraph (I was thinking on the way into work today I sounded naive or terribly conservative).

Most folks I"ve talked to say they had sex when they became serious about the the SITC way of jumping into bed on the first date.

I remember watching one episode where they were counting up their sexual partners, and I turned to GAry and said "I might be old fashioned...but damn. Did you have that many partners or jump into bed on the first or second date?

To which he blushed, and said no. It was all he could do to get up the nerve to ask a girl out.