Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Parent Talks About 'The Talk' And Her First Time

By Beverly Cialone

Ah, sex…that mysterious thing that adults are “allowed” to engage in, with seemingly no repercussions from anyone…right? Well, kinda. Once a person becomes an adult, sex eventually loses that “mysterious” appeal and can become a myriad of other, worse things. It can become mundane and boring, or it can become fodder for a person’s ego, good or bad. It opens up a gateway to a host of things that can be unpleasant or not, depending upon what a particular person wants. It has the power to make you sick and even kill you. But when you’re a teenager, you think of none of that. At least, when I was a teenager, disease wasn’t first and foremost on my mind when my thoughts turned to that mysterious thing called sex.

When I was a teenager, my mother tended to talk in some sort of mysterious "code" when it came to sex...mostly what she said was that "Boys had more arms than an octopus" and that "They only wanted one thing." She never actually sat me down and explained sex to me. I wish she had. I learned on my own, the hard way...by listening to the girls at school talk, which only fueled my curiosity even more, which eventually drove me to do "IT" with a boy I shouldn't have...had I known all the intricacies of sex, both physically and emotionally, I wouldn't have given it away so easily. Another thing that stands out in my mind, way back when I was a teenager (in the 80’s), is what my father told me one night after I had come home from a date. My parents have always been the strict, religious types, and on this particular night my father was watching a televangelist when I came in from my date. I remember sitting down to eat, and the only thing my father said to me was, “If you get pregnant, you’re out of here.” Things like that would make any teen think twice about trying to discuss something like sex with their parents, who obviously know loads about the subject, because, hey, let’s face it—none of us would be here if our parents hadn’t engaged in sex.

Yes, sex can be a tricky subject to navigate with anyone, especially a teenager. To any parents who are out there reading this, please, PLEASE, don’t be embarrassed to discuss this subject with your teenager. They are NOT trying to embarrass you by bringing it up. They are honestly curious, and it is knowledge they NEED to know, because yes, eventually that sweet baby you brought home from the hospital several years ago will engage in sex. The best thing you can do as a parent is to arm them with the best knowledge you know how to impart on the subject. No beating around the bush, no euphemisms for certain body parts, etc. I’m not saying that you should unload on your teen(s) and fill them in on the private nicknames you and your husband/wife have given each other’s private parts. I’m saying that the least you can do is to explain to them the basic mechanics of sex, what goes where, what they can expect regarding feeling pain, and how they might feel afterwards. Trying to explain emotional consequences is subjective, because all you’ll have to go on is your own experience in that case. And of course, every teen needs to know just how important protection and contraception are if they decide to engage in sex. Disease and unwanted pregnancies have sidetracked many a promising future, and I’m sure that’s the last thing any parent wants for their child. And also, please try to refrain from making your teen feel that sex is a bad thing and that they should never engage in it. If you’re secretive and/or embarrassed when it comes to sex, eventually your teen will view it the same way. It should be made clear that sex is something special that is shared between two people who care about each other. Of course, as adults we all know that in a lot of cases, that particular scenario happens only in the perfect world. But don’t tell your teen that. They have to grow and explore and learn on their own. Yes, it hurts to see your baby preparing to “leave the nest”, so to speak, but ever since you held your baby in your arms, you knew that moment was going to come. Let them leave the nest armed with the knowledge they need to make clear, informed, guilt-free choices. As a parent of two sons, I too have had to have “The Talk” with them. I always told my sons as they were growing up that they could come to me with anything and talk to me about it. The most memorable experience I have regarding that is when my ex-husband informed my youngest son that his aunt had had a miscarriage and that the baby’s arm had fallen out into the toilet. Appalled, I wasted no time in making sure my son understood that that particular scenario had NOT happened. And of course, that conversation led to “The Talk”, and while it was difficult, I managed to explain things to my son in a way he would understand. As a teenager he naturally became curious, and I was there to answer his questions and give advice as best I could. Now that he’s older, I have no problem discussing certain things with him, and I am glad that he feels comfortable enough to come to me with any questions or problems he might have.

As for my own experiences as a teenager who had been newly introduced to sex, another memory I have is of the very first time I did “IT” with the aforementioned boy that, looking back now, I should’ve run away screaming from. He knew I wanted him, but it wasn’t until (MUCH) later that I finally realized he didn’t, and probably never had, felt the same about me. On this particular day he had ridden his moped to school, and I had a car. He asked me if I could follow him home because he had no tag on the back of it, and of course I agreed. Well, instead of going to his house, we followed a dirt road into the woods and stopped. I had known that sooner rather than later he and I were going to do “IT”, and I just happened to have a blanket in the car specifically for that purpose. But, being the innocent teen that I was, and wanting to please this guy, I agreed to try and do it on the hood of my car. Since I had just switched the engine off maybe five minutes earlier, the hood was scorching hot, so that idea went flying out of the window at a rather frightening speed. With a bruised ego and a burnt butt, I put the blanket on the ground and waited with growing anticipation for this guy to show me what doing “IT” was all about. Well, needless to say, as soon as he started, I realized I had made a horrible mistake. It HURT, and I remember lying there wondering what all the fuss was about, because I didn’t find it particularly exciting or pleasurable at that point. Afterwards we got up, I stuffed the blanket into the trunk of my car, and we went our separate ways. Once I got home, however, I began to freak out about the blanket, because there was a TINY bit of blood on it, and knowing my parents the way I did, knowing how strict and religious they were, I just knew that they would somehow KNOW what I had done, if they saw that little bit of blood on the blanket. So, once I got home, I limped into the back yard, stuffed the blanket into our burn barrel, and unceremoniously set it on fire. I then limped back into the house and spent the rest of the afternoon lying spread-eagled, on my stomach, on my bed, in complete agony. I was hoping that my parents wouldn’t notice that I was walking funny, and if they did, they said nothing.

After losing my virginity, I didn’t engage in sex again for about a year, until I met the man who would become my first husband. For some reason, by then I felt a little more confident, and at that point I just couldn’t seem to get enough of it. The point I’m trying to make here is that sex is different for everyone. For some people (specifically girls), losing your virginity may or may not hurt, depending upon what you’ve done up to that point. By that I mean, did you engage in strenuous sports activities or wear tampons? If so, then first-time sex for you may not hurt at all. For others, such as myself, it might leave you walking funny and wondering what all the fuss was about. Being a teen is awkward and hard in itself. Adding sex to the mix is just going to make it even more so, especially if you decide to do it for the same reason(s) I did. I was wondering why people talked about sex so much, why they kept it such a secret, why it seemed to be the be-all and end-all of everything. Well, trust me, I found out. Beforehand, I felt like an outcast, like I was missing out on something big and spectacular. Sometimes I even felt like something was wrong with me, because at 17 I was still a virgin, when everyone else seemed to know what they were doing. While my next statement may seem lame and even archaic, please take my advice on this particular point: there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with waiting until you have met someone and spent enough time with him/her to determine that they are indeed someone special, at least to you. If anyone ever tries to pressure you or guilt-trip you into having sex with them before you feel ready, then you need to seriously reconsider your relationship with that person. Consider your virginity as a gift you can give to someone, because it is. It’s a gift you can only give once, and the person you decide to give it to should feel special and honored to receive it.

1 comment: