I grew up in a conservative home and religion and as such, sex before marriage was a big no no and seen as shameful. It also wasn’t something discussed other than to say “don’t do it” which I suppose works for some people, it’s just really not my jam. I actually don’t know how to say that without a real life reason (ie. not a religious reason) or how to not talk openly about things. My kids are 14 and 11 and I’ve been talking to them about sex and consequently, pregnancy for years. I’ve both taken opportunities and created them to normalize these and other topics so that my kids know that nothing is off limits or shameful.
With these topics in particular, I like to talk about the different things people feel and believe about it because I want them to be able to consider as many ways as possible in deciding what feels right and best for them. I also discuss that although I hope they don’t become sexually involved in their teen years (so many emotions already), that I also just hope they are careful and true to who they are and want to be. I make no expectation of what that should mean for them, and I want them to know that they have control over their own bodies. I am teaching my children that there is no shame in intimacy and discovery, and I never want them to feel like there is or that they somehow OWE me with their choices. I also always answer any questions that come up and give explanations of words they’ve heard or slang words they may not know have a sexual meaning, etc.
But beyond that, here’s what I tell my daughter about the possibility of getting pregnant:
- Having sex with someone does not automatically mean you want or deserve to get pregnant.
- Don’t get pregnant – haha, feels obvious. But first, if you are going to be sexually active, tell me so I can get you on birth control. Also, even though I’m convinced nobody actually likes them, use condoms.
- I will not be mad if you do (get pregnant)
- You have THREE choices. This one is important because regardless of my own personal feelings, it matters to me that my kids make fully informed decisions. Option 1: Choose to birth and parent the baby. Option 2: Choose to birth and place the baby for adoption. Option 3: Choose to terminate the pregnancy
- You do not owe anybody a vote, even the father of the baby. You may want his opinion and support (and depending on the circumstances, I encourage it), but you do not owe him a vote.
- I will help and support you NO MATTER WHAT you choose. This support is not momentary but ongoing and all encompassing. I do not want her decision to be made out of fear or shame or feelings of inadequacy.
And here’s what I tell my son:
- Having sex with someone does not automatically mean you want or deserve for it to result in pregnancy.
- Don’t get someone pregnant – still obvious haha. But first, if you are going to be sexually active, tell me so I can get you condoms (again, even though I’m convinced nobody actually likes them). Also, I highly recommend not being the only one using birth control methods.
- I will not be mad if you do (get someone pregnant)
- She has THREE choices. This one is important to me because regardless of my own personal feelings, it’s important to me that my son understands all of the options but moreso that he has the responsibility to support her even though he may not get a vote. Option 1: Choose to birth and parent the baby. Option 2: Choose to birth and place the baby for adoption. Option 3: Choose to terminate the pregnancy.
- You may have an opinion but you may not get a vote. And she doesn’t owe you one. In fact, she doesn’t owe anybody that.
- I will help and support you (and her) NO MATTER the outcome. This support is not momentary but ongoing and all encompassing. Again, I do not want this decision to be made out of fear or shame or feelings of inadequacy.
I am a firm believer in being open and honest about all the topics, and in being thorough in discussing different possibilities. I really want my children to be informed and compassionate, and to understand that what is right for one person may not be right for another. Stay tuned for the breakdown of what I tell my kids about each of the options mentioned above.
Tales from an Unfiltered Parent is my attempt to inspire others to have open conversations with their children. I mean it when I say nothing is off limits, and my children and I have had very honest and raw discussions on almost every topic imaginable. You don’t have to agree with my stance or explanations, but what I hope is that it will at least give you a starting point with which to create the same open foundation within your own family. I am a strong believer that knowledge is power and that when we give our kids our trust and honesty, they are better equipped to navigate life and find more ways to flourish while doing so.
Have a topic you want discussed? Send me an email with subject ‘Unfiltered Parent’ to firstname.lastname@example.org