Great Expectations

Recently I had a conversation with a parent about how he should discuss sex with his teenage son. His dilemma is one that I’ve heard from many parents just like him. To begin, I asked “What do you want for your son as far as sex is concerned?” His response, like so many other parents, was “Well, I’d like for him to wait for sex until marriage but I know that’s unrealistic.” When asked why he thought that was unrealistic he replied “Well, everybody’s doing it these days. And besides, I can’t expect him to wait…I didn’t.” Okay parents, let’s talk. If you were to name all of the silly, irresponsible, irrational things you did as a teen, we’d be here for weeks. To add, most of you would do anything to keep your kids from making some of the same mistakes you did. So why is that attitude so different when it comes to sex?

This parent said, “I can’t expect him to wait…I didn’t.” My response to him was “Your reason for not waiting was not because you couldn’t, but because you chose not too, right.” He paused and said, “I guess you’re right.” “Bring your son in,” I told him. After the son came in, I told the dad to tell the son what he wanted for him. He begin explaining to his son that he knows there’s a lot of pressure out there to have sex, but he wants him to abstain until marriage. I then told the dad to tell his son what he did. He asked, “What good is that going to do.” I said, just try. He said, “…it’s hard for me to tell you this son but as you probably know, I didn’t wait.”

“Was it because you couldn’t wait,” I asked the dad purposely in front of the boy. “No,” he replied. “I felt like it was expected of me,” he continued.“Did you face any consequences because of your actions?” I asked. “Well there was that time when I thought I had a girl pregnant. Man, that was the scariest moment of my life besides the time when I had to go to the clinic and they inserted a probe into my penis to check for an STD,” the dad responded. By this time the son’s mouth was wide open in disbelief and he began to squirm when the dad talked about the STD check.

“So, what’s your response,” I asked the son. “Man, I’ll pass on all of that,” he said as he shook his head. “I can wait,” he continued.“You see, just because you made a mistake does not mean your son has to. What he doesn’t know might just hurt him,” I said. Parents must understand that if you don’t have great expectations for your children just because you failed, you set them up to fail. If you made a mistake, tell your kids. They need to know. Now what do you think? What and how much should you tell your kids?