Birds & Bees in Utah County

Christopher BigelowMormon 23 Comments

Not too long ago I went to “maturation training” in Lehi, Utah, with my 11-year-old fifth grader, who was definitely already showing signs of puberty (pimples and hair, mostly). He’s a big, somewhat chubby guy, so he’s ahead of the curve as far as physical development goes.

I grew up in the Los Angeles area, and I remember getting my training at this same age. What a time warp! In 1977 they showed us well-produced films and went into a lot more detail. Thirty years later in Utah, an old guy got up in front of the white board and laughably sketched a few biological details, but he never really connected the dots or made it clear that tab A goes into slot B. By the conclusion, I felt so much had been left out that I raised my hand and said, “Uh, does part two come next year, or what?”

The guy put on a forced smile and said, “Nope, that’s all we offer.” A lady turned around, pointed at me somewhat rudely, and said, “You’re part two.” (By the way, it was weird having a few mothers in there; I remember it was strictly a father-and-son outing in California.)

Anyway, all the Utah school did was get the ball rolling. They covered nocturnal emissions and menstrual cycles, but they didn’t even come close to talking about intercourse or masturbation, let alone birth control or disease prevention. I remember that in California they taught us that masturbation was normal and healthy, and afterward my dad told me it was wrong and Mormons don’t believe in it.

This Utah guy actually spent quite a bit of time on emotional and social maturity, which I thought was pretty good. At the end, they gave all the kids their own stick of deodorant. I’m wondering if this district does any further training on condoms or whatever in high school health class, or is this truly the extent of the district’s sex education?

In some ways I appreciate that the district just gave the ball a gentle shove, and now it’s up to the parents to finish it. However, I’m not likely to pursue my son about these issues, and he’s not the type to ask me much. It was only surprisingly recently that he began to figure out about Santa Claus, and I still don’t know exactly how much he understands about what parents do in their beds when they hope all the kids are asleep.

At his age, I remember I thought that sex happened only one time, right after the marriage; in fact, I pictured it taking place in a restroom stall at the temple, with the couple still wearing their wedding clothes and uncomfortably positioned over a toilet. And I was very worried about how a male could tell whether he was putting urine or semen into the female. On the way home from the sex education, I actually asked my dad how often it happened and was quite surprised when he said, “About once a week.” As for the other question, I guess I figured out those mechanics on my own a couple of years later. But for me and my son, the maturation training did not prompt any questions in him that he was willing to ask, and I don’t think we’ve discussed it since, except to talk about the dangers of porn because now he’s already started looking at naked pictures online, although I don’t think he’s seen actual sex happening.

So what are some of your thoughts and experiences regarding school sex education and the role of parents, etc.?

Comments 23

  1. I learned it all from an encyclopedia years before my dad took me in and asked me if I’d learned what I needed to know from school health class and the law of chastity lesson.

    I do remember having funny ideas long before then, though, like wondering how the sperm (transferred during a kiss) goes all the way up the man’s body, into the woman’s via the mouth, and back down to her ovaries.

    I intend to be more hands-on than that, certainly; it reminds me of something a high councilman or someone said here once, that we were raised in innocence (I’m 24) but our children will need to be raised in virtue.

  2. I grew up in California. I never had to ask my parents anything: it was all covered in school, pretty thoroughly. And I’m grateful too: it was nice to learn this stuff in an academic environment, surrounded by my friends. I didn’t ever want “the talk” from my dad, and never had to have it. It started in the 5th grade (about the time I was really starting to get curious about the stuff) and was pretty much completed by the 6th grade. Then they covered it again (but in more detail) in junior high. Then again in high school. I loved learning about the stuff this way. They talked about all forms of birth control, but never really demanded that any any of us use it (not that I remember, at least–I might’ve tuned that part out. I was Mormon and wasn’t going to go around having sex anyway). But they did stress that abstinence was the only 100% sure-fire birth control method. And no one sued them! Can you believe it? Try that today and get ready for a mountain of lawsuits.

    Now I’m a dad today and we just moved to a new part of the country (the Least Coast). Where we moved from, for my son, the school was going to cover the stuff the following year. Where we moved to, they covered it the previous year, so he totally missed it. So I had to give him “the talk”, though I’m sure he still has plenty of questions. I told him to ask me if he ever has any questions, but I’m sure he would’ve preferred to learn this stuff in school.

  3. I smiled when I read how you tactfully asked about whether part two would come later without mentioning any particulars. If there’s one thing parents are hyper-sensitive about in the education of their children, it is human development and sexuality. The lady who turned around to tell you that YOU were part two is right, in that parents should be the primary providers of information and support in this transitionary period. But what about the kids whose parents aren’t so involved in their child’s education, or who do not have the skills to talk openly about these issues? Based on what you described about the “maturation training” in Utah Co., the school system is doing serious injustice to these kids by ignoring changes happening to each and every one of them. I’m saddened by it because ignoring it only increases misunderstanding and misapplication of new feelings, thoughts, and changes that occur in the teenage years. That “training” goes way beyond abstinence only. Free deodorant. 😛

  4. I’m not sure that I care what the school system does–too little, too much, etc. It’s just not an issue on my political radar, I guess. I didn’t get much from school, and my parents had the talk with me (I was 8 or 9, I think, which is not early enough, imo), and they showed me a sex-ed video, which was more comfortable for me.

    If parents would talk about sexuality and developmental issues regularly from an early age, I don’t think it would be so uncomfortable to have “the talk” later on. I have some great books on this subject Sex & Sensibility (how to talk about sex with your children), and From Diapers to Dating, which covers sexuality and development issues (and how to talk about them) from infancy to middle school. I wish I had of learned more from my parents and less from friends and the media.

  5. I am laughing so hard right now, but I’m crying as well.

    Why? Because Brigham Young, Joseph Smith and a LOT of other early church leaders would be completely baffled by the need to teach youngsters the MECHANICS of sex. “You have to teach them WHAT!?”

    To ANYONE that grows up around livestock and breeding programs (which, by the way, was most of the pioneers, even the more genteel folks who had had at one point lived in the city, as they moved west soon learned how to be more rough & tough) the mechanics of sex from a very primal state are well understood from an extremely early age. To put it bluntly, when you are trying to breed horses, it takes the mystery out of where Tab A goes, so to speak, and it’s not like the parents in that situation can really sugar-coat why the horses are doing what they are doing.

    Now it won’t teach anything about morals, puberty, the physical changes, social awareness or any of that, and those are things that should certainly be covered in a very frank discussion of the facts of life. I really think, however, that the entire need to explain the mechanics is pretty amusing. It’s like a manual for a VCR. If you can’t figure out how it works, then maybe you shouldn’t be using it? (Okay, that’s probably not the best analogy.) 🙂

    All I can really say is this–kids need to be told two things about sex: first, it’s not evil. Second, outside of marriage it is a transgression of God’s commandments. A VERY serious sin. One that should be carefully dealt with. Sex itself, however, is a beautiful and sacred thing that should not be casually toyed with, nor feared. Like anything sacred, it is wrong to take that which is sacred and sell it or use it as a weapon, tool or for power. It is also wrong to use it outside certain boundaries, and those bounds must be closely respected. (In writing that, it occurs to me, that many of the same arguments apply to the Priesthood…interesting).

    God ordained a sacred tool, and it is one of the VERY FEW things that we are immediately rewarded for by such intense feelings of pleasure. So much so that people seek abrogate the responsibility and use sex in ways that God never authorized (eg, outside of marriage; I will not say for pleasure, as I think that recreational within a married couple is a good way for them to strengthen their relationship and commitment, and should be considered as such). Thus the evils of pornography are that the artform teaches explicitly and implicitly that premarital and extramarital sex is acceptable, and that it is a tool only. The evils of pornography are that it is created by people using sex as a method of gaining power, money or influence. The greatest evil of pornography is that it turns something good and pure into an addiction.

    Kids need to be warned, and dancing around the issue isn’t going to do the trick. My parents NEVER tried to talk to me about any of it. I learned everything I knew about sex from observation, dirty stories, and other sources. Hardly the best combination, and I don’t think it did me any favors.

    I can say this, my own kids are going to be very well-grounded in the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and ‘what’s what’ of sex.

  6. #2:
    But they did stress that abstinence was the only 100% sure-fire birth control method. And no one sued them! Can you believe it? Try that today and get ready for a mountain of lawsuits.

    Please point me to any published court opinions, or even reputable newspaper or magazine articles, indicating that a school has been sued (let alone successfully) for teaching that abstinence is the only 100% reliable form of birth control.

    Then perhaps we can discuss how federal funding forces schools to teach “abstinence only” in sex education classes.

  7. #6:
    All I can really say is this–kids need to be told two things about sex: first, it’s not evil. Second, outside of marriage it is a transgression of God’s commandments. A VERY serious sin. One that should be carefully dealt with.

    I’m completely with you on teaching kids that sex is not inherently evil, Benjamin. Please, please tell me, however, that you aren’t suggesting that secular public schools should teach that sex outside of marriage is a transgression of deity’s commandments! From the context, I’m not sure whether you’re trying to say that or not.

  8. Interesting post.

    As for my talk with my dad, I remember getting in a fight with my brother, which happened all the time. Anyway, I remember that after my dad reprimanded me, he said, “son, your body’s going through changes. Do you understand?”

    I remember being completely baffled, but just nodded in agreement. A few years later, after actually talking to my older sister, and getting the real low-down on the subject, that I figured out what he was talking about.

    My kids are both under 6, and I have no idea how I’m going to broach the subject, but I hope to do better than my dad.

  9. “in fact, I pictured it taking place in a restroom stall at the temple, with the couple still wearing their wedding clothes and uncomfortably positioned over a toilet”

    I am afraid this image will ruin my next several temple trips 😉

  10. I also grew up in California in the late 80s/early 90s, and I recall sex ed discussions in 5th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade. The first time we watched an old video from the 70s, complete with a young guy riding one of those skinny skateboards through some urban city (totally foreign to my suburban environment, but whatever). I don’t recall most of the movie, but I do remember having a group discussion with the school nurse afterward, which ended prematurely when one smart alec boy asked an impertinent question just for laughs. I remember that more detail was given in 7th and 8th grade discussions, and there were a number of slides showing drawings of anatomy and stuff. In 10th grade, we had an in-depth discussion on human sexuality as part of our natural sciences course. My teacher was an out-of-the-closet lesbian, so the discussion was quite frank, and included demonstrations of birth control methods.

    On the parent end of things, mine were extremely shy about talking about sex with us. I have an image of my mother’s blushing face permanently seared into my brain as she told me about the mechanics of sex. My father was there too, but later I learned that he was too embarrassed to talk about it to me, so my mom had to do it. Other than that first time we talked when I was in fifth grade, and one time when they had me watch “The Miracle of Life” video, we didn’t discuss sex at all throughout my adolescence.

    That’s not to say I didn’t learn a lot on my own. I devoured any information I could on the subject, visiting the community college library for more information/images to read/look at, all without my parent’s knowledge, of course. Their embarrassment made me too embarrassed to talk about it with them. This probably contributed to my unhealthy (read excessive) interest in images of the nude female body. This was before Al Gore invented the Internet, so I had to go to great lengths to “educate” myself further. Ah, the folly of youth.

    Needless to say, I think things will be different for my children. My twins just turned 5, and we talk with candor about body parts without shame or embarrassment. When they start asking about how babies are made in the next few years, we’ll tell them the truth, and hopefully prevent the mystification of sexuality from occurring. We’ll probably have some books on hand with information and illustrations about human growth and development that they can read at their leisure. We’ll teach them that HF gave us bodies and expects us to learn about them, respect them, and use them well in life. I suspect there’ll be a few subjects like “the big M”, sexual morality from LDS and non-LDS perspectives, pr0n0graphy, etc. that will need more in-depth discussion in a family setting that can clarify the messages/pressures they’ll certainly receive from peers, the media, church leaders, etc. (How’s that for vagueness? you can read anything you want into that sentence. :-)).

  11. My parents, Mom really, told me all about it in one session after I asked “What’s that thing hanging down under the dog?” I was 8, and would have been perfectly happy with an answer like, “That what he uses to go pee.” But my parents had a quick conference with each other and my Mom said, “I’ll tell you about it in a day or two.” The next day we went to the library where she checked out two books, one written especially for kids, and the other resembled a college text book complete with pictures. I only half way paid any attention to the whole talk, and was very glad that I’d already had “the talk” when I became interested in boys in Jr. High.

    The thing is, I don’t think we ever had “maturation training” in school. We did talk about sex in health class, but it was more about ways to prevent pregnancy and VD talk and it seemed that before anything else was mentioned there was the magic, “Abstinance only” disclaimer.

  12. I can’t remember. I’m too old. 🙂

    We are very frank with our kids. My 9-year-old and I (then my wife later) just had a talk about periods – and she asked me.

    Just to share a laugh – and gratitude that it didn’t happen in our current legal environment:

    A friend of my oldest daughter saw her father come out of the shower when she was about five. She asked what “that” was, and he told her. About a week later, she was with him at a Catholic Church social function, and she said, in front of a bunch of their church friends:

    “Daddy, will you show me your penis again?”

  13. I don’t know about other states, but this is typical for Utah. I clearly remember that the maturation thing was only about menstruation.

    Personally, I think it’s weird that schools do this at all.

  14. We had Sex Ed in Southern California in 5th and 6th grade (around 1980 or so). Our school nurse was a real pro, not to mention young, blond and fairly attractive.

    She told us everything about the birds and the bees from a conventional standpoint. Then she had people write down questions they were too embarrassed to ask in person. From these questions, she then told us about “blow jobs,” “69” and a variety of other unconventional things. She talked about these things in a very clinical, serious, and direct manner, taking every question seriously (though some of the questions may have been a joke or prank). I still remember her drawing the number “69” on the chalkboard to illustrate the point she was trying to make. I give her a lot of credit. She treated us like adults; treated every question with respect; treated the subject with the right degree of reverence, openness; silenced the gigglers with a sharp look; etc.

    My biggest fear at the time was “wet dreams.” The thought that I might start wetting my pants again terrified me. My written question to the nurse had to do with the amount of liquid that came out, and whether or not I would have to wash my pajamas. I was worried my mom would find them in the laundry basket and and get mad at me.

  15. I have always heard that parental sex education should be to give whatever information is requested specifically to keep it age appropriate. Sometimes the information provided by the school is too clinical or lacks a moral compass. Sometimes peer information is total crap.

    A fellow 3rd grader in Texas asked if I had ever heard about “the birds and the bees and the black eyed peas” (the legume, not the band). She said the boy puts his finger in the girl’s belly button and 9 days later she has a baby. I pointed out the obvious fallacy in that explanation. In 5th grade, in New Jersey, they did the maturation talk like what you describe. Girls got a pink box with feminine information and hygiene materials, while boys got blue. We were all reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, and we considered ourselves pretty expert. In high school (Pennsylvania), we got a sex talk every year in health, and the content varied greatly from teacher to teacher based on their own comfort. In junior year they showed a film of actual childbirth and a girl passed out and hit her head on the radiator. My friend’s mom had a sex dictionary that had every term imaginable in it, so we had access to lots of information, which is good since my mom still spells the word “s-e-x.”

    With our kids, my husband has the talk with the boys, and I will with our daughter, generally at age 11. After my son heard it from his dad, he kept saying, “Are you serious??” At some point it dawned on him that we must have done it. My son said he threw up in his mouth.

  16. I recently led a discussion on this subject for LDS women. I have not included the teen years because my oldest is 10 so I don’t have experience with that yet.

    Parents spend so much time worrying about what someone might say to their kids about sex and not enough time planning what to say to our kids about sex. (This paraphrases something I read but I can’t remember who to give credit to).

    1. Prepare what you want to talk about
    2. Decide what you want to accomplish:
    • Relationship of open communication with your child
    • Factual knowledge
    • Understanding of the sanctity and importance of their bodies and their procreative powers
    3. Realize that it isn’t just one “big talk” it is an ONGOING process.

    Toddlers/Preschoolers Ages 1-5

    Talking to your child while they are young
    • Naming body parts use normal names
    • Heavenly Father made our bodies and you can list all the parts when washing in the bath
    • kids pick up on your discomfort, so keep it simple and practice while they are young and you won’t be so embarrassed when they are older
    Identifying private areas
    • at a certain age (personal choice) pointing out good manners/proper behavior about not running around naked when guests are over, etc.
    • If your child has older siblings, they might have privacy behavior drilled into them (a little too much so!) so you have to make it practical when you have to bathe them or use restroom together or shower,etc
    Difference between boys and girls
    • easy when there is a younger sibling, you can point it out when they ask during diaper change
    • just tell them that the other gender has ______ and doesn’t have ______
    • Boys and men have a penis, scrotum and testicles.
    • Girls have vulva, labia, vagina, urinary opening/urethra.
    • Drawings in books showing males/female inside and outside parts (you don’t have to give them the whole book, just look at that page)
    Identifying appropriate time and place for discussing penis and vagina discussions
    • “We can talk about that at home/You can talk about that with me later.
    • It’s not good manners to talk about our private parts with our friends
    • Do you need to go potty? If you do, just say “I need to go potty”
    Talking about caring for our bodies
    • Our bodies are special gifts from God
    • We wash our bodies all our parts, brush our teeth
    • We go to the doctor when a part of our body is hurt or sick, all our parts
    Talking about where babies come from
    • Books about siblings and babies in Mom’s tummies
    • Talking about when “you were in mom’s tummy”
    • Talking about spirits in Heaven, talking about Heavenly Father and families
    • Umbilical cords and belly buttons (big hit with kids)
    • Pictures/drawings of babies in utero
    Gender identity –
    • you want your child to know he/she will grow up to be male/female and feel positive about that
    Children Ages 5-11

    Answering difficult questions about sex, bodies, tampons, etc.
    • If you aren’t prepared or the place/audience isn’t appropriate, say “Let’s talk about that when we get home” or “We can talk about that after dinner” or “I have a book I can show you about that. Let’s look at it tomorrow”
    Keep it age appropriate,
    • find out why they are asking so you don’t accidentally answer something they weren’t really asking,
    • When talking about sex and babies, you don’t want to give no info and then dump it all at once, so start simple when they are younger about babies growing in mom’s tummies and each time you talk about it you can give a little more information
    How to decide when to give “the big talk” where you bring up sex
    • Individual to the child,
    • pray about it,
    • sometimes it comes up naturally if you are pregnant or the child is interested in pregnancy,
    • letting them “ask”
    • some kids will never ask so you have to bring it up,
    • when will they hear about it from other kids
    Where babies come from
    • tiny little part from mom and a little part from dad get together and start growing into a baby inside mommy’s tummy.
    • Spirit coming from heaven and the body growing inside mommy’s tummy and the spirit coming and joining the body,
    • If you are pregnant, great! If you know someone who is pregnant you can talk about it.
    • Each time I can add something like sperm and egg, uterus, how long it takes for a baby to grow, umbilical cord,
    When explaining sexual intercourse, the discussion should include:
    • Heavenly Father’s plan for us to get married and have a family,
    • heavenly father made all the parts of our bodies and made it possible to make a baby,
    • when we are adults we have special feelings of love when we get married
    • sexual intercourse is a special way a married couple expresses love and can make a baby
    • sex is a beautiful thing for a husband and wife who love each other
    • Its all about families==married couples sharing physical expression of love just between the two of them, and creating babies. Sex is definitely about Heavenly Father and families.
    • a girls body grows and changes into a woman’s body and these changes make it possible for her to be a mother, boys bodies change before they can be a father,
    • these adult feelings are for when you are an adult and get married, and might sound strange when you are a child
    • the mechanics of sex
    Kids reactions sex and puberty talks
    • many kids “forget” after they’ve been told!!!!
    • they might be a little freaked out and think puberty/sex it sounds scary or gross so you need to reassure them
    • so don’t assume they got it all, they might not really understand what you meant and assume things because it is all so strange to them
    • time goes faster as an adult so if you might think you just explained stuff but it was two years ago
    • kids might not think of questions right away and then be too shy to come to you with a question a week later, so check back every so often to open the door to discuss
    • they might completely ignore the big picture of what you said because they are concentrating on one aspect of it
    Books/Internet educational sites
    • Books can be great with drawings of people inside parts so you can show what you are talking about,
    • books can have things included that you don’t want them to read – some books I ended up using and simply crossed out and wrote what I wanted it to say and explained that some people believed differently. Other books were too far off to use.
    • You can read a chapter together and then ask if your child has questions.
    • When a child is older you can hand them the book to read alone and then sit down and ask if they have questions about a particular chapter
    • Bring up subjects a couple years before they need the info
    • 1st puberty talk can include just simple question while you are driving alone with your son to the grocery store and ask him does a boy look different than a man? Yes. Because as a boy grows changes happen as a boy gets older. Some of those changes are he starts growing hair on his face and other places on his body and his voice gets deeper.
    • Be positive about it
    • OK to have a crush (my definition when my kid asked was “you want them to be your boyfriend or girlfriend when you get older)
    • Who it is ok to kiss, hug

    Preteen Ages 10-13
    Any age if they are embarrassed or uncooperative when you try to talk to them:
    • Tell them “As your mother, it is my job to explain this to you and talk to you about this every so often….even if you are tired of it or are embarrassed”
    • Its actually happening to them and they are concerned (or not happening and they are concerned)
    • Hygeine (I’m linking a privilege to the same grade as showering daily)
    • Be confidential about what is happening to them
    • Give them as many details as possible, books will answer things that might not have happened to you, but are still normal and might happen to them
    • Celebrate the first bra or period with your daughter!
    • Be open and matter of fact with boys too (tell them what to do if he has a wet dream)
    • Books are available for girls or boys puberty but READ THEM FIRST!!!
    • More details and mechanics about sexual intercourse and the miracle of conception and birth
    • They may not remember all details or have misunderstood, so go over details
    • Values about marriage and sanctity of sex
    • Heavenly Father’s plan and the wonderful privilege to have children
    • Sex is wonderful and great within marriage
    • Books that they can read but you need to READ THEM FIRST
    • No boyfriend/girlfriend until age 16
    • Who is it ok to kiss now and later
    • Appropriate dating behavior (kissing and a hug)
    • OK to have a crush
    • Ask them if other kids have a boyfriend/girlfriend to find out what friends and kids at school are doing
    You want to have real facts for some of these as well as values. Topics to cover:

    • Casual sex
    • Living together/having children without marriage
    • Birth Control
    • Abortion
    • Homosexuality
    • Gay marriage
    • Miscarriage
    • Infertility
    • Pornography
    • Choosing to have children
    • World’s declining fertility because people don’t want children
    • Family vs. career
    • Plastic surgery
    • TV/Hollywood idea of beauty isn’t normal, they want everyone to look exactly the same with one type of face or body
    • TV/Hollywood showing poor choices about honesty, sex, treating others with respect, modesty
    • Alcohol and poor choice behavior while intoxicated
    • Rape
    • Internet Safety
    • Sexual Abuse
    • Sexually Transmitted diseases
    • Eating disorders
    • Divorce
    • Infidelity

  17. My mom was great in TWO subject and I will always be thankful to her about it.
    The two subjects were Santa Claus and sex.
    I would love to tell you about Santa Claus but I will share with you how it went about the sex thing because I think you’re going to love the end.
    So it seems that a boy a little older than me (who obviously had the “talk”) told me things (at church please) about it. This made me wonder and I asked my mother how babies were made. First my mother was not pleased at the boy but this I don’t remember because I only remember the way she told me things. Now you need to know I was SIX YEARS OLD. She just explained to me that when a man and a woman loves each other a lot they may want to show their love to each other. And she went on with very simple words but eplained to me everything a little girl could understand and needed to know about sex she did not hide anything. She exlpained also to me the period thing which made things a lot less traumatic in one way a few years later (not in another one but this was not something she had control over).
    Now the “funny” part is that my mother being wise she did not explain things about which I did not ask questions. Therefore, just trusting you guys that you probably knew your job and how to handle it, I never wondered how it could…how to put it???? How it could “get in”.
    Then when I was 12 I heard a crass word over and over on my way back home from school. I was not happy because obviously it was something wrong since this word had been said by kids I did not like with a tone of voice that I did not like. It was a french swear word for “erection”. So I came right in the kitchen where my mother was peeling carrotes. A few were “old” and soft and a few were “new” and…let’s say “not soft”.
    The way she explained to me the meaning of this word was first to give the real word. Then to explain to me what it was for and then to take one “soft” carrotes and shake it telling me “before it is like this” and then taking one of the new carrotes “and then it is like that”.

    Now gentlemen I will ask you not to read further because this part is going to hurt.

    My mother was peeling them in order to shave them after.

    I can’t see shaved carrotes without thinking of it.

  18. I hope that by the time my kids are old enough to go to one of those classes, they will pretty much know and be comfortable with the basics. For example, my five year old son knows that babies come out of their mother’s vagina’s. I just had a baby, and it came up during the pregnancy. They go to the zoo or their grandparents farms and see animals. They watch TV. Even in our house without cable, it’s hard to shield them from all sexuality. Things come up in life if you communicate with your kids. They ask questions, I give straight up answers, they may or may not ask follow up questions, and I use my judgment from there to decide how much detail to give based on age, maturity, comfort level, ect. I think that approach will work better than a Big Talk like I got when I was a kid. All the Talk did was embarrass me and make me never ever want to discuss with my parents again.

    That being said, I totally support public schools teaching about sex, male and female body functions, childbirth, abstinence, birth control, condoms, STD’s… Like a previous poster said, not every child has a parent that will communicate, and those children without parents playing an active role are the ones that are most likely to get into trouble.

  19. My mom has this awesome little book called, “So That’s How I Was Born.” Whenever one of us was around age 5, she would pull it out (from the shelf that was already very public and accessible) and read it to us. That was the start of our education and I think a good one. My youngest sister loved the book so much, she asked our oldest sister’s boyfriend if he would read it to her over and over, which he did quite ceremoniously, which we all enjoyed. My oldest brother is famed for his experience, because my mom, upon completing the book, said, “Do you have any questions?” to which he answered, “Can I go watch He-man now?”

    As for the later Maturation training, I was totally mortified and angry that I had to attend and refused to ask any questions though I had plenty. I remember thinking how unfair the whole thing was and how I never wanted to grow up. Since then, I learned tons more in college, which I still had to figure out myself after the professor laughingly said if no one knew what he was talking about, they should ask him later. Yeah right.

    Anyway, interesting post. If you can share it with us, why not share it with your son?

  20. Nick

    Sorry this is taking a while to get back to you, but no, for clarification, I am not suggesting that at all. That was for LDS parents to teach that casual non-marital sex is a violation of God’s commands.

    I do think that abstinence teaching is a good idea in the context of (and this is for schools–what parents teach is based on WHY extra-marital sex is a serious sin–if they don’t know then they need to do some serious soul-searching):

    If you want to avoid STD’s & pregnancy, abstinence is the best way to go about that. You will not get pregnant or get someone pregnant if you aren’t having sex with someone, and you are extremely unlikely to get an STD if you aren’t having sex with anyone. However if you DO choose to engage in sexual activity, here is what you need to know to prevent pregnancy and STD’s.

    No, schools should not be trying to cover what is and is not a religious command. That’s inappropriate as they do not know what religion a child may belong to, and cannot cover them all (or if the child is even religious).

    Sorry about the confusion.

  21. jks’s comment was really helpful, but two things:

    1. If my mom had celebrated my first period or bra, I would have been completely mortified and angry.
    2. We don’t believe that youth should have boyfriends or girlfriends until later, at the earliest at 18. Beginning of dating at age 16 is in groups and with lots of different people. (See For the Strength of Youth “Dating” section.)

  22. I had to laugh about the description of the Maturation program in Utah. I grew up here and the way they described wet dreams made me think of what happens when your fever breaks… serious I thought you sweated it out. Because all he said was “you wake up and your undergarments are all wet.” Drawing on my life’s experience up to that point I naturally thought of a fever sweat.

    It wasn’t until I was in HS that I realized I wasn’t a pervert when I had a wet dream and it was what they had obviously not explained very well to me in 5th grade.

    Anyway thought yall would get a kick out of that.

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