22
May
  

Running the Bases – How to have
“The Talk” With Your Son

Lisa Barr: Okay, this subject is out of my league. I have three daughters, no sons … so this one goes out to two Moms who share their perspective on teaching their boys the OTHER game of baseball. Have at it, Girlfriends.

 

Mom of two from Highland Park, Illinois:

“I will always try to answer your questions with the truth…so make sure you want to know the answer before you ask.” 

We believe that this is the best policy with our children. And it is…mostly.

Then, they start asking about sex and drugs.

My son was almost 3 years old when his sister was born. “Can I see the hole in your tummy where my sister came out?”  It was the first and only time I wished I had had a C-section. I could have simply lifted my shirt and showed him my proud scar, but instead I was faced with the first test of telling the truth.

The experts say to answer only the questions they ask, don’t embellish, be matter of fact.  So I tried to do this in an appropriate 3-year-old manner.

The conversation went like this:

Me: “Usually babies don’t come out of a hole in your stomach. There is a special place between the Mommy’s legs where they come out.”

Son: “Where the pee-pee comes out?”

Me: “No”

Son: “Where the poo-poo comes out?

Me: “No”

Son: “Can I see it?”

Me: “No”

Son: “Okay”

I felt as if I passed the test and bought some time. Three days later he said . . . .”So, how exactly does the baby get into your tummy, Mommy?” I believe I mumbled something about mommies having eggs and daddies having sperm and when they get together they make a baby.

What I was actually thinking was that he is only 3 years old and should not be thinking this deeply yet.  I had no idea what was to come.

When he was six, (about 4 years before they would be covering sex education in school), my son came home and said that he really needed to understand how babies were made. Of course his father, my husband, was in London at the time. I promised I would get a book and we would discuss it when he got home from school the next day.

Off to Borders I went, reading every book on the subject. I eventually found one I thought I could read with a straight face to a six year old. He came home and immediately asked if I was ready to talk about babies. I happily showed him my purchase. He looked at the table of contents, and pointed: “Chapter 4. How babies are made …That is what I want to know.”

I did make him start at the beginning, but we read the entire book in record time. He listened very carefully and never even smiled. I asked if he had any questions, knowing I only had to answer the questions he asked.

“I don’t understand how ‘it’ gets in there,” he said.

I calmly and maturely explained, that ‘it’ has to be hard like his gets sometimes in the morning for it to work. (I was very proud of my myself.)

He looked at me and said, “No, I mean if you have pajamas on.” Shit shit shit!

I answered the wrong question! Where the hell is your father?!  The fact that there were no PJs involved is what finally made him giggle.

The questions got more complicated and personal as he got older. One time at about 10 years old, I found myself answering his question about why anyone would ever need a condom…”Why would you have sex if you didn’t want a baby?” (By the way his father, my husband, was in New York for this round).

I told him that sex is an important part of a relationship between a husband and a wife, not just for making babies. He looked at me and put his hands up like he was weighing the thought…

“And you know this Mom, through books?”

I shook my head. “No, honey, from experience.”

His eyes nearly popped out of his head.

Tell the truth. Answer only the questions they ask.  It was my mantra.

Now my son is a high-schooler. He has informed me that he really knows everything there is to know about girls etc. because “you can find anything you want to know on the Internet.”  I am fairly certain that is not a good source for information so I continue to try to engage him when he is in the mood (not often – but sometimes). Older children’s questions tend to surround personal experiences. “Did you wait ’til you got married to have sex? Have you ever tried pot?”

Okay, now telling the truth becomes a bit more tricky.

I was a relatively “good girl” growing up. I actually uttered the phrase “I don’t need to drink to have fun” to my friends in high school (and, YES, I did have friends in high school – I swear). But I also cannot say I never tried anything and that when it came to my wedding night I was nervous about the “first time.”  So how do we handle this with our pre-teen and teenage children?

Some people say LIE, LIE, LIE.  Like your life depends on it.  I don’t agree with this.  I think our kids are pretty savvy, and if we expect them to tell the truth, they expect the same of us.

That being said, I don’t think it is smart to recount every stupid thing we ever did either. There is an edited version that lets them know that we were once kids too, and did make mistakes. But certain things are absolute. For example, I have not told him he is forbidden to drink or smoke. I have told him I think he is too young, I would prefer that he did not, and there are dangers associated with these behaviors.

My husband and I have told both our kids on numerous occasions that they are forbidden to get in the car with anyone who is impaired in any way, or get behind the wheel if they are.  They have a free pass regardless of time of night to call us to get them out of a dangerous situation. If we find out either has broken this rule, they may never be able to leave the house again.

We tell them: “We can fix a lot of things. We cannot fix you being dead or hurting someone else.”

Bottom line, we, as parents, spend a lot of time talking to our kids, trying to make them understand right from wrong. We answer their questions as honestly as possible to help them understand context and provide good examples.  Mostly we cross our fingers and hope that when they make mistakes, because they inevitably will, that those mistakes are little ones with little consequences.

Some of us hope only that when it is time to cover the topic of, say, wet dreams with our sons, our husbands (their father) will be in town (mine was not, of course).  Rest assured, my husband has had his share of these conversations with him…but I’m definitely ahead.

But even so, I relish the thought that my children still talk to both of us, and feel comfortable asking the tough (and embarrassing) questions. And we answer them, honestly, directly, and without too much embellishment.

*  *  *

Lisa Barr: Here is another Mom sharing a fascinating way she chose to talk to her three sons about sex. A “playbook” — Love it. 

As a household with three boys— four, if you include my sometimes mischievous husband – we don’t have a lot of girl drama. For this, I must say, I am thankful. Yes, I am sure that in my golden years, when my husband is bonding with our grown sons over football, I will long for the daughter I never had. In my future, there will be no girl talk, wedding-dress shopping, or gushing over my offspring’s pregnancy. My only hope is that I get awesome daughters-in-law. But for now, I don’t worry about those things too much. It’s enough just to get through the three daily loads of laundry that come with raising three very athletic and active boys. And lately, the hand towels seem to be piling up even more in the bathroom …

Trying to convey information about sex and relationships to my teenage son in a way that is meaningful, yet not preachy, has been challenging. He prefers his information in short sound bites, á la ESPN’s “Top Ten Plays of the Week.” Then, I had a brainstorm. I could write a concise playbook for teenage boys that would teach them all about sex and relationships using sports as a metaphor.

 

What better way to discuss the topic of sex with my son than to combine it with sports?

 

Moreover, sex and sports have a lot in common: “Players” need to make sure they are mentally and physically prepared before they play, they must follow the rules or suffer the penalties, and most importantly, if done right, both sports and sex can bring years of enjoyment. There is at least one major difference between them, though. With sports, parents and coaches teach the boys the rules of the game and show them how to improve their skills. Not so with sex and relationships. Somehow our boys are just supposed to magically know how to behave around girls and make good choices about sex. But these things need to be taught, just like proper techniques for swinging a bat or throwing a spiral. Below are a few of the tips I plucked from The Teenage Boys’ Playbook on Sex and Relationships: From Rookie to M.V.P. with 20 Simple Rules.

Rule #2Going to Practice – You wouldn’t play in the World Series without first swinging your bat a few times. “Going to the batting cages” can give you the confidence you need when it is time to really step up to the plate. And it helps release some of the nervous tension that could cause you to put your bat in the wrong dugout. Yes, masturbation is a perfectly normal and healthy activity for boys and girls. Just keep this lesson, like all other sexual activity, private.

Rule #4 – Eligibility – There’s a reason all professional sports teams have minimum ages players must reach before they can join the team: They want to make sure players are mature enough to handle all the responsibility and pressure that come with being a world-class athlete. The NFL has the strictest age requirement: three years removed from high school. The NBA is more lenient requiring that all players be out of high school for at least one year. And the NHL and MLB require that their players be at least 18-years-old. It makes sense that if there are minimum age requirements for playing professional sports, there should be a minimum age requirement for having sex. After all, sex can result in you, my son, becoming a father, which is way more responsibility and pressure than playing on any professional sports team.  Although three years out of high school may not be a realistic wait for some young men, at least consider waiting until you have graduated from high school and are out of your parents’ house. (Your parents will appreciate that.) Plus then you don’t have to go sneaking around either.

Rule #6 – The Referee Calls the Shots – In any sexual encounter, the girl is the referee. You are bigger and stronger, so the presumption is that you could overpower a girl and force her to have sexual relations with you. Of course most guys would never think about doing something so terrible or illegal, but if at ANY point, she tells you “no” or “stop” — even after the two of you have agreed to have sex, or have had sex previously, you MUST obey her request! If you don’t, the “technical foul” you receive will most likely involve prison time.

Rule #7 – Proper Equipment – You would be insane not to wear protective equipment when you play tackle football. The same is true for when you have sex: Make sure you are wearing the proper equipment, which for intercourse, is a proper fitting condom. Even if your girlfriend says that she is on the pill, you still need to wear a condom. Birth control pills can’t protect either of you from getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).  So unless you are prepared to risk getting an STD or becoming a father, you should always wear protection. If you are uncomfortable buying condoms or asking your parents for them, you are probably not ready to be having sex. So get back on the bench for a while longer, young man.

Rule #18 – Playing Man-to-Man — It’s the 21st Century, so it’s time to acknowledge that a large number of men (and women) are gay. Yes, even some professional sports players. Being a strong heterosexual male doesn’t mean you have to put down gays. And, even more than that, it would be cool if you were secure enough to set the homophobes straight if they start insulting gays in front of you. Don’t’ worry; the heterosexual girls will still be able to detect your manliness even if you defend gay people. In fact, a lot of girls will find you more attractive for being so comfortable with your own sexuality that you will stand up for others who are different than you. Lots of women love the strong, powerful, sensitive type. Be one.

In the meantime, whether you are a boy mom, girl mom, or both, consider talking to your child about sex sooner rather than later. Don’t wait for them to ask. Take the initiative. It’s a rough playing field out there, and your child needs you on his team.

- LB:  If you found these tips helpful, I would be happy to share this Mom’s “Playbook’ with you, Just email me at lisafrydman@aol.com — and I will set you up … 

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