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.?