Talking to Boys about the Birds and the Bees

I’ve mentioned my young friend Kevin before, and promised to pass on more of his advice for parents as they talk to boys about sex.  This seems as good a time as any, since last month the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) reported on a 2009 study in which “researchers found that teen boys were more likely than girls to have had first sexual intercourse before age 13 and to have had sexual intercourse with four or more people.”

Kevin surveyed some guy friends, and found that they affirmed something he had said to me previously: “Parents shouldn’t treat the topic of sex as some sort of taboo subject that is just sort of swept under the table.”  One commented that “Your blood pressure shouldn’t rise when you’re having the sex talk with your kids.”

So what does this look like?  First, start early, and let it be often enough that you both feel less ill at ease with the topic each time it comes up.  Second, recognize real-life opportunities.  Kevin related one friend’s experience: “The most constructive talk he had with his father about sex was when his father caught him looking at pornography. Even though the conversation was still a little awkward, it provided a means for his father to explain why looking at pornography is wrong and what sex should be like, etc.”  The third tip Kevin gave was this: “One of my mentors was humorously remarking about how women can talk for hours just sitting with each other while men like to work out with weights or throw a disc or pull some weeds together while they talk.”  Come to think of it, when it comes to this topic, even girls may prefer not to have to look you in the eye!  Parents often relate to me that car rides provide a fabulous opportunity for some of the best talks, having two key advantages:  not having to be eye-to-eye, and having a captive audience!

And who should do the talking?  It’s not necessary that a son be talked to by a man in his life (although that would be great).  I hear from a lot of moms that they are talking to their sons.  The important thing is that it should be a caring parent who is imparting values, so that teens aren’t just getting ideas about sex from the latest episode of 90210 or Jersey Shore.