Bad Advice On Talking To Kids About Sex
Welcome to our latest Bad Advice column! Stay tuned every Tuesday for more terrible guidance based on actual letters.
“I have a 7-year-old son who seems to be growing up faster than I would like at times. With today’s music, video games, TV and movies, there are some things regarding sex I can’t prevent him from seeing or learning if I haven’t screened the contents.
I realize my son knows more than I would like for a child his age to know. Because of this, my husband thinks it’s time to have the ‘birds and the bees’ talk. I’m not ready to have that talk, and I don’t believe my son is at an age to have this talk, either.
My husband is a psych major who never fails to remind me how knowledgeable he thinks he is as he tries to convince me that our son is ready. I know that one day my son will be curious about his body, but is now that time? Am I wrong in thinking he’s too young?”
-From “NOT READY IN OKLAHOMA” via “Dear Abby,” 7 November 2016
Dear Not Ready in Oklahoma,
Parenting can be a challenge — many kids these days often seem to have a mind of their own, don’t they! Lucky for you, children don’t develop curiosity about their bodies, or other people’s bodies, until their parents say it’s okay. Until the moment you become comfortable explaining reproduction and sexuality to your child, he will be 100% uninterested in anything to do with these concepts. Just because he’s picking up random stuff about sex from who-knows-where doesn’t mean he’s interested in it, or developing thoughts and feelings about what he hears and sees. Please don’t inappropriately supplement the crap he sees on television with parental guidance about your family’s values and expectations. You could cause irreparable damage to him by acknowledging reality, thereby causing it to exist.
Obviously your husband is just trying to show off his fancy learning by suggesting doing something other than entirely ignoring the fact that your son is a sentient human with a body. Common human decency demands that you not let your husband’s education get in the way of not teaching your son the age-appropriate information he needs to start making decisions about his own health and future.
One day, your son will be curious about his body. On that day, you can take him aside, congratulate him on his firstborn, and patiently and kindly explain to him where it came from.
“I always date the ‘good guy,’ the responsible guy, the guy my friends equate with a huge snoozefest. Recently I met a very attractive man (he was hosting an event that my friends and I were attending), and he asked me to dinner. Our date is next week. He’s been very charming, and — dare I say it? — I like him, E. Jean!
Upon Googling him, however, I discovered among his many marketing and event-planning entries three mug shots!
His last arrest (for ‘failure to appear’) was a couple of weeks ago. The other charges were (to name just two) disorderly conduct and assault by strangulation. Should I cancel the date knowing what I know? Or give him a chance to explain himself? My friends were unfazed when I told them. They advised me to go out and ‘live a little.’ I may be only 24, but I was successful throughout college, my new career is going well, and I try my hardest not to be dumb!”
-From “Always the Good Girl” via “Ask E. Jean,” Elle, 21 October 2016
Dear Always the Good Girl,
Look, you’re not the one who’s going to be in a relationship with a violent criminal — your friends are. If they think it sounds entertaining for you to date a man who strangles people, who are you to object? It definitely is not literally your own neck on the line!
“I have a friend who’s pretty creepy towards women. I’ve been cool with him for a while and when he’s with guys he’s totally normal but when he gets around girls his main goal becomes trying to have sex with them. At parties and bars he’ll spend the whole night trying to get laid, and even will hit on my female friends if he meets them. He’s definitely made some girls uncomfortable, but I don’t think he’s doing it on purpose, he just doesn’t get how others are perceiving his actions.
He did express to me that he felt he wasn’t being invited to hang out with me and my friends (some of whom were female and I had met recently — he also hit on all of them) and I didn’t know how to tell him the truth. Should I tell him or not really bother?”
-Via Reddit, r/AskMen, 3 November 2016
Tell this guy what? That he grosses women out? That they, and you, perceive him to be a creep? Who benefits from that? Women? Who said their feelings matter? Why is your women friends’ comfort and well-being your responsibility? Why can’t they make a man who disgusts them and makes them uncomfortable stop acting disgusting and discomfiting around them?
Bother with what? Doing the bare minimum to support people who are different from you? Explaining to this dude that nobody fucking cares if he doesn’t mean to be creepy because he’s making people feel creeped on and that is pretty much the entire measure of whether someone is creepy or not? Giving the barest shit about making life not-miserable for other people? Trying to improve the lives of your women friends? To what end? So they can feel safe and welcome in the social groups of which you are a part? Who’s stopping them from spending an extended period of time with a man they loathe trying to convince him not to treat them like sex objects? Do you have to do everything around here?