“NO Glove, NO Love”

By Debby Shulman

How do you talk to teenage boys about sex?

Not as easy as you think.  For mothers, we are stuck navigating that very awkward road of what to say and how to say it.  After all, we changed their diapers.  We KNOW what’s down there.  Granted, things might have progressed since the last time you were called in to wipe, but let’s assume for the sake of an argument that the plumbing is in place and in full use.  All the time.  So when things start to veer hormonal, it’s time to get on board.

Boys love their parts.  It’s fascinating. It really is the toy that goes with you. You can scratch it, rearrange it, manipulate it, or even untangle it.  And sadly, once they discover how fun it is, they don’t stop until, well, they’re dead.

But eventually they figure out what they REALLY want to do with it and as responsible mothers, it’s our job to sit them down for that talk.  (Dad should too … and it’s not so bad when both take a swing at bat.)  Not the birds and the bees talk – that should have happened years ago – but the real sex talk.  Because now is when the “fun” begins.

Recently, my dear, close friend walked in on her 17-year-old son engaged in a let’s just call it a “recreational activity” that does not qualify for an Olympic sport.  It was very late, she heard noises in his room and opened the door slightly to see way too much, way too fast, and had to quickly close the door before she vomited on the hard-wood floor.  Now you’re probably wondering if she slept that night … and I can assure you, with the vision of what she had just seen, she did not. What she did do was call ME the following day, in staccato hiccups, blinded rage and awful nausea.

I have an almost 21 year old, and my middle son is going to be 18.  I am now qualified to dispense rock solid advice from the school of “been there, done that.”  (I have graduated with honors.)  It’s not that what I have to say is for everyone.

But we all need to have these candid, open conversations with our boys because unprotected sex can kill you or at the very least, make you very sick.  I, for one, do NOT want to call my pediatrician because my adorable son has some unknown scab festering on a body part I cannot see.

What should my friend do?  As of yet, they had not had a discussion that focused on safety, HPV shots, or satisfying and respecting your partner physically and emotionally. My friend’s son is shy …  and many young teenage boys are.  She was unsure if she could say the things she had to without embarrassing herself, or having him bolt from the room as if there was a bomb scare. I suggested she do what I have done for a long time.

Lure them in with food.

Boys love food.  They love eating.  They love bacon.  Take your almost sexually active, hormonally-charged son to a breakfast place he loves.  Order those eggs, hash browns and the breakfast meat of his choice.

Talk about school, sports, movies and college … and then, when the food comes and he has taken a bite, TALK.  Now you’ve got him, like a fish with a hook in his mouth.

He won’t bolt because he’s knee deep in some skillet laced with cheese, eggs, and bacon.  Talk about condoms, HPV shots, respecting the girl or boy you are with (even though it may not last), keeping your mouth shut about what you do in private, and making sure you use good judgment in the home you were born and raised in.

That means you do NOT leave Trojan wrappers on my carpet or under your bed, that means you do NOT bring a guest home without coming into my room and letting me know that you are here ‘with a friend,’ and that you do NOT use Instagram to highlight the ‘best’ part of your evening.

Last but not least, you respect your siblings, your parents and yourself.  Questions?  You may not get any. And while the conversation may quiet down, it is never really over.  It’s an ongoing, open discussion with gentle reminders every now and then because now the ice is broken. Get past being embarrassed; we want our beautiful boys to be healthy, responsible, well-respected men. Girlilla Warfare has discussed the ‘bad boy’ already … let’s not encourage that behavior.

Acknowledge and accept that kids are engaging in promiscuous activity we cannot control and accept that because of their age, you MUST set limits and express both concern and reservation.

They should tell their doctor if they are sexually active and they should ALL HAVE HPV SHOTS.  You can get creepy stuff if you have oral sex without a rubber … I’m not saying you’re going to get anywhere with that one but you still have to talk about it.  We all hear the same stories about young teens who are engaging in oral sex. Please don’t be naïve.  Yes, it’s our kids and their friends, and even though we love them, they are still going to experiment with this. Trust me, he WILL hear what you are saying.  Loud and clear.

He just can’t answer because he’s got a mouthful of food.

Buy your boys condoms. Colored, ribbed, lubricated, scented, flavored … it doesn’t matter. And for the college freshman – it will not be on the ‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’ list either. My bestie told her son before he went off to college to go grab the extra value pack of 64. Money well spent. Make sure they have a decent relationship with their doctor, internist or pediatrician.  I am fortunate that I see the young, hip, “Doogie Howser” pediatrician who talks to my boys in language they ‘hear’ and wears jeans to work.  He is a teenage boy’s answer to Dr. Spock.  If you don’t have that — find one.

Teen sex is a weird, scary place for those too young to understand what is really happening to them and having experiences at too young an age can cause a crack in that foundation.  Get on it.

My message to both of my boys is exactly the same: Use protection, be respectful of yourself and your partner, listen to the little voice inside your head and know when it’s time to put that toy away and save it for something more meaningful.  Sex is not something you do because you’re bored or trying to boost yourself in the eyes of curious classmates — it is not something you do to make yourself feel better or feel needed, and most importantly, it is not ever something you want to treat without the incredible respect it deserves.

Embrace the open, honest way you have begun a conversation that might go on for many years, stopping for periods of time and starting up again when there is a need.

We cannot stop our kids from having sex or oral sex, but what we can do is talk about it and make it an okay thing to discuss openly and honestly.  They should always feel like they can talk to you.

Treating sex as if it is a taboo subject makes it awkward. Make it funny and make it genuine, but make it happen.

No glove, no love.  It’s as simple as that.

Lisa Barr, Editor of GIRLilla Warfare: Debby Shulman (love her) is a college essay consultant and academic tutor with a private practice in Northbrook, Illinois.  She also professionally collaborates with Amy Simon College Consulting in Bannockburn, Illinois. 



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