Sex Education – Love? or Fear?

March 26, 2007

The universe provides! The other night – I was reading a book by Starhawk called Circle Round – Raising Children in Goddess Traditions. I turned to the chapter on Coming of Age – Adolescence – and found a sweet tender essay titled “Youth and Maiden Lovemaking.” He says:

“A lot to being Pagan is being a good lover. My attitude is, why not start sooner than later? So here’s a brief lesson on how to be safe, how to be fun, and how to treat your partner well.  There are four main responsibilities that you should abide by.”

The author – Zack Darling-Ferns goes on to list them:

  1. Don’t get sick (STDs)
  2. Don’t get yourself or your love pregnant
  3. Respect your partner’s right to say no
  4. Respect each other’s privacy

This started me ruminating on what I am teaching my son about sex, sexuality, and sensuality.I talk a lot about the binary system of fear/love – choosing to feel fear and act out of love. Now that I am parenting a teen who is exploring his sexuality and sensuality – I am finding myself having to reach deeper into my self to untangle my thoughts about “sex education.” Am I speaking from fear? (of pregnancy, hurt feelings, STD, loss of control) or am I speaking from love? (trust of him and her, passionate self-expression, ecstatic union)?

As a child of the fifties and sixties, my parents did not discuss sex with me. They relied on the school system to teach me the facts of life. I relied on my friends and my mom’s Taber’s medical dictionary to teach me the facts of life. Then there were some pamphlets I found about the rhythm system that sounded interesting to me! Unfortunately – I mixed up the timing and thought that the middle of the cycle – ovulation – when I was feeling most sexual – was the safe time of the month! yikes! Fortunately, condoms were available over-the-counter and in college the health center gave them away free – no questions asked.

I find that parenting shines a spotlight on my insecurities and unfinished business. Before he was in a relationship – it was easy to talk about sex, love, and all the complications and ecstasies of physical and spiritual communion. Now that it is a reality – and he is fully experiencing the powerful attractions of physical connection -I am finding myself a bit muddled.

A part of me believes that when we share intimacy with another – we honor ourselves and the divine. We create connection and peace. Aside from the real world concerns of STDs and pregnancy – my only concern is the emotional after effects. There is another part of me that comes from fear – fear that he isn’t ready, fear that she isn’t ready, fear that reverts back to “just say no!” which is stupid advice! I even have a category here on my blog called yes! but I don’t have one called no! I talk about paying attention to what has heart and meaning – which is a definite YES! practice. So how best to nurture his self-exploration – creating the container of “safe-enough” and then letting him break free and create his own container with someone else?

This morning – my husband and I were sharing some UU ideas from a sermon on fundamentalism and as I began to click around the site – I discovered something called OWL – Our Whole Lives – a program of sex education that is not abstinence based. I didn’t even know there were mainstream (if you can consider UU mainstream) sex education programs that taught objective facts about sexuality.

OWLweaves spirituality and facts together to present accurate information in a context of the sacred and the divine. How very different my early sexual explorations would have been in an environment supported by the adults around me.
I was fortunate to have several friends who had mapped out the territory of sexual exploration before me. I was always a little behind – and therefore able to make use of their experience and combine it with my instincts.

As often happens, the parenting issues that I struggle with are the ones that I am still mending in myself. It is a delicate dance to tease apart my issues from unfinished childhood experiences and the reality that my son is much more socially and emotionally mature than I was at his age.

I fully trust him to make the right decisions for himself and his partner.


One comment

  1. This was very interesting. I found myself struggling with the same things when my sons were growing up. It’s amazing how much of our parenting is wrapped up in our own hopes and fears, and (obviously)the history of our own maturation process.

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