Today is my daughter’s 17th birthday. I have mixed feelings about the day, to be honest. On the one hand, she’s very close to embarking on her adult life. This is her last year of high school; next year she starts college. She’s already very independant and I have confidence that she’ll be able to handle the “adult” world of rent, bills, college, relationships, etc. On the other hand, she’s still a child in many ways. She’s not legally an adult, although that’s a rather arbitrary dividing line really. Her brain won’t fully mature until about age 24-26. She still has a lot to learn about the world and how to get around in it. She’s not driving and doesn’t have real employment yet. As her mother, I feel, and have always felt, that it is my responsibility to teach her all (to the best of my ability) that she needs to know in order to be a functioning, and hopefully happy, adult. And, that includes teaching her about sex, sexuality, and relationships.
I prefer the comprehensive, continuing education method, starting when she was very young. It annoys me when people get up-in-arms about “teaching sex to young children.” No one wants to or is even suggesting teaching “sex” to young children. However, there is a lot of information about sexuality and relationships that children should and do learn, whether or not an actual conscious teaching effort is being made. I taught my daughter proper, actual names for her ALL of her body parts, as well as those of the male sex. I also taught her that her body is hers, not anyone else’s, and that she has the right to say “No!” to anyone touching it in a way that didn’t feel right to her. To me, that’s childhood sex ed.
As she got older, I taught her about how her body would be developing and the changes that would occur over time. Throughout her life I have also taught her the importance of honesty in all relationships and that she has the capability of loving as many people as she wishes. She has always been able to come to me with questions about all sorts of things, and it seems she has enjoyed knowing I’m a sex educator. I have found over time that her friends ask me, and her, lots of questions as well. I do my best not to overstep my bounds, because I do believe it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their child sex ed.
Now that she is 17 and has at least 2 somewhat primary relationships that I’m aware of and many other ancillary ones, I see her being responsible, honest, and most of all, really enjoying herself.
I’m sad to see that young child who used to want to play with me all the time not around so often anymore, but I am proud to see a young woman who can handle herself and her relationships, and still asks for her mom now and again.