Google Sex Ed | A note to parents

by You Have My Word

I am not a parent. I cannot begin to understand the menagerie of seemingly-impossible but must-be-done barrage of responsibilities. Parents are crazy. With reason. Sometimes. I admire parents’ ability to learn on the job without causing fatalities. I love my parents.

A letter to moms and dads
Dear parents,
Here is a question for you: what are you teaching me?
The kids.

I am incredibly privileged to have grown up in a home where honesty and openness was not only encouraged, but demanded. Please don’t think of this as invasion of privacy (Relax, kids – I’m not telling your old man and old lady to scour through your things. Keep reading.), on the contrary: this transparency fostered a safe environment where, normally labelled, ‘taboo topics’ could be explored (to a certain degree), discussed in a civil way and decided upon in a manner of integrity. (Parents, relax – I’m not telling your spawn to find drugs, take drugs, and then inform you of their discovery and further decision. Take a chill pill. Not literally, stupid.)

For most kids, however, this ‘safe environment’ is not the case. I don’t have exact figures but I don’t need those to make my point – anything less than 100% of kids growing up in a home of openness like I did, is not good enough. But we are human, we are flawed. (Moving on.)

Why, why, why
By nature, kids are curious creatures. If you’re a parent, you definitely know about the “Why Stage” of the just-under-fives. Here’s how most conversations go in this stage:

Parent: Put on your shoes, please.
Kid: Why?
Parent: Because we’re going out.
Kid: Why?
Parent: I need to get stuff from the store.
Kid: Why?
Parent: Because the Jeffersons are coming for supper.
Kid: Why?
Parent: Because we invited them.
Kid: Why?
Parent: Because they’re our friends and that’s what friends do.
Kid: Why?
Parent: Why do friends–… Just because.
Kid: Why?
Parent: Because they do.
Kid: Why?
… (One of them has to give up some time.)

Back to what I was saying: Kids are curious creatures. They find intrigue in pulling a bug apart and climbing trees on limbs too thin and watching ants come in and out of a hole in the sand. Everything (!) holds an element of fascination.

Note: “everything” does not exempt anything
A brother to his mom about his sister:
“Mommy, why’s hers different to mine?”

All parents’ dreaded favourite:
“Where do babies come from?” (What story did you make up? Was it the fish or the swimmers? Or was it ‘a special place’, to which your kid responded “Like a factory?”)

A son to his ‘superhero dad’:
“Dad, why is the sky blue?”

After returning from nursery school one day (surprise):
“Mom, what does ‘shit’ mean?”

At what point, though, do parents stop answering these questions? Or rather, at what point do kids stop asking these questions? At what point does it become off-limits to have a chat with mom and dad about what happened at that party?

Consider this carefully
Parents: Have you barricaded yourselves because you’re terrified you won’t have the answers for your kids? Are you ashamed you’ll have to speak about what you did at thirteen? Why are you not a safe place for your kids to bring questions?

Kids: Why don’t you go to your parents when you have questions about things you don’t understand? Since when did your friends’ (the same ‘friends’ that ditched you when the cops came last time) advice hold more value than that of your parents (they made it this far, they must have done something right)? Where are you getting your information?

Let me break it down for you
Kids are curious. If you can’t give them the environment to ask the questions to get the answers they need, they will find it elsewhere. This is what I like to call the “Google sex ed” principle. (There sure are enough pictures out there for anyone to become very well-informed.) Google, Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, forums, friends in any form – this is where the information is being gathered because a conversation wasn’t had at the dinner table.

Kid, I am petrified of asking you where you’re getting your info from. I guess I’m still a kid too in many senses, so please don’t feel belittled. As I said, I am one of the very few, who grew up in a home that made truth and integrity and honesty and discipline and discernment a priority.

Parent, I am angry and indignant and deeply concerned about you, and why it is that your kid won’t come to you. I beseech you: talk to your children, invite them to talk to you. Talk to them! Open up to them, say it how it is, don’t judge them, give them support, discipline them when necessary so they know to make a smarter choice next time. Don’t leave Google to give them sex ed classes, or advice about what career to choose or how to deal with accidental pregnancy or the negative effects of narcotics. Love them, educate them, love them some more.

It’s never too late
What’s your story? Does your family talk? If not, why not? Who/what do you turn to? You can start to mend and make right: begin right now.