I was desperate to have children because I wanted to have babies… you know, those adorable, tiny, scrunched up, helpless little preciouses. I never thought for one moment about gangly big teenagers stomping and flouncing about my home, trailing laundry and dishes and terrible moods, smelling… not emptying their bins for weeks on end and forcing me to have all of these sex talks.
The ones I am never in a rush to have.
About boyfriends and girlfriends… about sex and, OMG, no babies… not at this stage anyway.
I have a son and a daughter. They are both, legally, fully grown adults now, who can drink in pubs, and get married, even if I know they still take a cuddly to bed, wear fuzzy socks and think being able to boil pasta equals being able to cook.
So, we keep on having to have those talks. Maybe other parents find this stuff easy, but I find it like buckling myself into a rollercoaster seat.
The sex talks
I’m finding the conversations with the son and the daughter aren’t too radically different.
First comes the denial: ‘Muuuuum, I don’t need you to tell me this stuff… I’ve learned it in school/ from my friends/ the internet…’
But never mind, press on.
‘School, friends and the internet do not love you from head to toe every single day of the year the way I do,’ I tell them, ‘Plus, I need to go over the fine print with you to make sure you’ve really, really understood all the very important details.’
Sex is a big deal. No, you may not ‘get drunk and get it over with’ as so many teenagers think is a plan. The first time, and pretty much every time you have sex, child of mine, I want it to be with a person who is worth it. A person you’ll remember fondly, or at least with a big smile, a person who cared, who made sure everything was the way you wanted for all of the time. A person who listened to you. A person who made you feel very good about yourself. Quite foxy really.
I will be right by your side
Safety first… sex is a risky business, like driving, so just like you’d always use a seat belt in the car, it’s safety first. No one needs the trauma of an STD or an unexpected positive test in their life. Really, no one needs that. But if those things happen, I am 100% here for you. Tell me straightaway and we’ll face this stuff head on. I will be right by your side.
The kidults need to know the details… the kind of things that only parents, who love them a lot, will go into. What are those? How does this work? They need information on bladder infections and lubrication. You’ll be glad of your Covid mask if you ever venture to the supermarket for supplies for your beloveds.
I have only a few tips for these big conversations, because I certainly don’t think I got them all right. Be honest that it’s awkward for you too, but you still have to have these chats with them. Try the car, or side-by-side on the sofa, so you don’t have to eyeball one another all the time.
Make sure everyone has a really clear grip on the rule that sex is only ever between not just consenting, but 100% enthusiastic adults. I also tell them that sex is rarely like in the movies and actually quite like dancing, as you’ve got to learn the steps, practise, find out what your partner wants, and get good at it together. It has to be enjoyable and what you and the other person want at all times. Keep asking that other person what they would like. Don’t pretend you’re the big know-all. If it’s all a bit awkward, then back away. Admit you’re not ready and you want to get to know each other better.
The big tricky chat with your teen
You never, ever owe anyone sex ever. You never have to have sex because you think you should. You have the right always to say, not for me today, thanks.
And at the end of a big, tricky chat with your beloved teen, pat yourself on the back. You did good. You did the right thing. You’ll be even better and more natural and less awkward the next time.