I've got a new poll up- it goes along with the series we're in the middle of ("How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex"). I thought it would be interesting to get a "feel" for how most of us were told about sex/intimacy.

Here are the options:
  • My parents gave me TOO much information (personal details, descriptions, etc.). I wish I would have known LESS.
  • My parent(s) gave me an appropriate introduction to sexuality. It may not have been perfect, but they did a pretty good job.
  • My parent(s) did the best they could, but I wouldn't do it the same way.
  • I got a clinical/biological description with no love or enjoyment as part of the discussion.
  • My parent(s) gave inaccurate information (babies come from storks, kissing gets you pregnant, etc.). I had to get my "real" sex ed from other sources.
  • My parent(s) gave me a lecture, and made me feel that sex was wrong or bad.
  • I heard absolutely nothing about sex from my parent(s). Whatever I learned, I learned from other sources (friends, TV, etc.).
  • I was sexually abused as a child and that was my introduction to sexuality.
  • Other (please leave an answer, even anonymously)

I tried to cover most of the bases, but already have realized that there may be some I didn't "hit". As always, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to share everything on your mind... (don't worry about "writing a book") And since this is a sensitive subject, anonymous comments will be published. So let me hear from you- How were YOU told about sex when you were young?


Mrs. Brigham said...

My mom had several talks with me about sex & also puberty & the physical changes to come, starting from a young age (5-ish). I was *never* told that babies came from the stork or anything like that. She began with the very basics of "where babies come from" and as I became older, we discussed additional topics, including homosexuality & why it was wrong, what to do if ourselves or somebody we knew was ever the victim of sexual abuse/assault and so on. She was also open to answering any questions my sister or I had. I really do think my mom did a *wonderful* job with these discussions. There was never any weird feelings or embarrassment, and also when I did get my period at an early age, I was not afraid of what was going on as she had prepared me so well for this time.

Even now, my mom is open in a respectful and appropriate way about issues relating to intimacy. She doesn't share personal details or get really into the nitty-gritty of her sex life with my dad, but rather shares in an open, honest friend to friend type way. After I had my daughter, she was very honest about the realities of postpartum sex and also was open about how she healed from certain procedures and what I might expect myself.

Anonymous said...

I was sexually abused by a family member that my father trusted to look after me while he worked (My mother had passed away). It was someone he had every reason to trust, not some anonymous stranger, which made it all the more confusing for me. That was my introduction to sexuality and it led me down a ver destructive path as I entered my teen and young adult years. The only sex education I got from my dad, and later my stepmom was "don't do it". I've never told my dad what happenened. He's a strong man but I just don't want to hurt him or make him feel guilty because he didn't do anything wrong. It was my past experiences that made me determined to raise my own kids, before I was even a Christian. My brokenness led me to the cross of Christ. I don't usually comment anonymously, but I thought it best given the sensitivity of my comment and the fact that only my husband and 2 trusted Christian friends are familiar with my past abuse.

Anonymous said...

I was sexually abused by my dad and my grandfather, but was never told about sex, or anything except in 5th grade was given the talk about getting a period. The conversation lasted all of 5 minutes and wasn't relevant until I was a 10th grader. My mom was a very prudish woman and still is, and she has a terrible view of the human body - to her the body is something dirty and inappropriate and a pain to deal with that just happens to be how God chose to house our spirits. Sex was never mentioned. What I learned, came from school, and books.

In high school, my boyfriend was our pastor, who was 15 years older than me. He asked my mom to date me, and my mom said yes. Imagine my surprise! Nothing sexual or inappropriate ever happened, and for years I've been convinced that I was simply a cover for his struggles with homosexuality. My second boyfriend was my now-husband. We dated for 12 days before becoming engaged, as we both knew that we were "the one". Sadly, we did not make it to our wedding date before having sex, despite the fact that it was only 6 months from date 1 to wedding. I felt terrible guilt about that for years, until the Lord finally taught me how to truly give the burden to him and forgive myself.

Like the anonymous poster, I'm determined that my girls lives will be different, and so far they are. I don't want them to carry the shame about their bodies and about sex, that I've struggled with. My husband and I are very open and honest about sex - often initiating conversations and asking questions of our 12 and 14 year old daughters. We want them to be able to come to us for any reason, and being honest and open about the gift of sex that God created, and the dangers of how Satan can twist that gift, are part of that process of trust.

Grafted Branch @ Restoring the Years said...

I do not remember. I remember only the school's attempt to educate us about menstruation...and that all the literature was covered in daisies. :)

Allison said...

My parents told me a little bit about sex, but it was not really enough. My mom told me about stuff like menstruation, but when it came time to learn about the "birds and the bees," when I was 11 or 12, I was given a book to read to explain it to me. It wasn't a bad book, but I still didn't get it. I thought that a man and a women laid down and wrapped their legs together, and that was called intercourse, which caused pregnancy. I didn't learn about the other part until my then 10-year-old brother told me! (not the best way to learn about sex, but funny now).

To be honest, I don't think I had a full understanding of the wonderful, God given, gift of sex until I took college Anatomy and Physiology and college Human Growth and Development.

In the next generation, my husband and I plan to teach our (one-day) children the truth about sex, and that it is a wonderful, God-given gift which we must not misuse. We want them to learn about sex from US before our culture tells them its perspective. It is not that we hope to "shelter" our children, it just that we feel it is important that they learn the truth (the beautiful truth), FIRST, before they learn of our culture's perversion of sex.

sharyn said...

I don't really remember my parents telling me the basics, but I know by the time our fifth-grade class was split into girls and boys and given the 'birds and bees' discussion, I already knew the mechanics, so somewhere I must have picked it up. I definitely got the message that sex was NOT something I should be doing -- not from a standpoint of it being something to save for marriage, but something I shouldn't be even thinking about. In retrospect, knowing what I know now, my mom was probably worried that I would follow in her footsteps and get pregnant and 'have' to get married. However, this information didn't surface until I was a teen-ager and trying to talk to my mom about the issue.

I will say, Jess, that I have found your thoughts on the issue really illuminating and enlightening, and I hope to instill in my boys the attitude not that sex is bad or something to be sneaking around and trying to 'get,' but something beautiful to share between a married couple. I definitely feel that my own education was lacking in this arena -- not so much the part about saving this for my future husband, but the part about it being great when you have a husband to share it with. I, for one, would love to hear how other parents plan to educate their children on this issue, right down to the talking points/scripts they feel are appropriate for different ages. For example, my 4-year-old is already asking about where babies come from, and I've said that when daddies and mommies are married, they get together in a special way to make a baby. And I find myself asking myself -- is this too vague? Too abstract? Or too much? I really want to have an open dialogue from the get-go, but I dont' really have any great models to go from. So bring it on, ladies! :)

blubflub said...

My husband and I both grew up as MK's (missionary kids.) My husband's sex education was hilarious. His parents told him that babies came when the parents prayed for a baby. However, he was pretty smart and, living around animals in the Brazilian jungle, he figured out that there was another way to get babies, too. So until he was a young teen, he thought that there were two ways: the fun way, and the spiritual way! His parents never gave him any real sex education at all. I, on the other hand, was told all of the details, but in such an uncomfortable and spiritualized way that I hated the information. God was merciful to both my husband and me, and we did find a much more balanced view through books that we read as teenagers, and through mature people God brought into our lives. ... May I add a personal opinion? I think that sex education per so should be over by the time a child is about 12, around the time that privacy becomes so terribly important to her. After that age, I think that a parent can be available if the teen wants to talk, but should not pry or preach. My mom did pry and preach, and I resented it very much. In my own case, books and other people (not my parents) were far more influential in forming my views, and I am thankful for this.

A Regular Reader said...

Sex was just NOT something that was discussed. My father often made off color comments, but other than that it was "don't ask, don't tell." It was confusing at best. That set me up to be really curious when my cousin decided I should know about sex the summer before second grade.

After the several weeks worth of lessons, he ended up molesting me, several times. I don't know if it was planned or not. He was 14, spoiled rotten, and I assume, just hormone driven and selfish. It still left me with quite a journey to a solid, healthy outlook on sex.

God is gracious and heals all wounds. I would say I'm 90% recovered over 25 years later, but I still have my moments. Forgiveness and an understanding that God really can use the sins commited against you for his glory, has pulled me through.

My parents still don't know, but I feel God leading me to make it known in the near future. I could use some prayers. :)

Keep up the good work Jess. If Christian parents keep sexuality as a taboo subject, we open our children up for things we might never dream of.

A regular read who you might never suspect...

Kelli in the Mirror said...

I don't remember my mom telling me, but I've heard the story lots of times about how I pestered her constantly about how babies were made until she told me. I think I was four. Young enough to think it was gross.
She also did a good job with saying sex was fun but worth waiting for and that my husband was worth it.

Terry said...

I have to say that my introduction to sexuality came in a very traumatic way when I was far, far too young. As for formal sex ed., I had the typical 5th grade menstruation lesson in school. As far as my parents go, they took the position that sex shouldn't be spoken of, and if it was, the general implication was, *don't do it, it's bad*. Needless to say, I had a dysfunctional view of sex and relationships, and made some devastating mistakes as a young woman. Thank God for His grace and for the love of a good and godly man.

Jess said...

Wow, ladies, I'm already getting so much insight into a broad spectrum of experiences. Thank you so much for sharing so openly and honestly!

I'm really learning a lot, and my heart has been spurred on by all the stories... from parents who did it "right" to parents who woefully lacked in this area, to the pain and heartache of their precious children.

I hope this is as insightful to others as it is to me.

*~Tamara~* said...

Zip. Nada. I learned from reading books I had to sneak to read.

When I was not quite 11 and started my period, I somehow had enough knowledge (I don't remember how) to go to my sister. She told me where to find supplies in the bathroom. That was the extent of my preparation for womanhood.

When I was about 16, my sister brought up to my mom that we had never been told anything about sex. She said, "Oh, for heaven's sake, you guys KNEW. We had ANIMALS you could see, if nothing else!"

Yeah...I guess I was supposed to learn about sexual intimacy with my future spouse by watching the pigs go at it in the mud pen. :-P

Man, I'm not sure if I should laugh or cry.

Anonymous said...

In fifth grade, all the students were broken up by gender and taught about their own anatomy (which, for us girls, included a lot of talk about menstruation - I have no clue what the boys were taught!) Then, in sixth grade, we were broken out again by gender and taught about the birds and the bees. I'm pretty sure we all knew the basics before then, though.

My parents, on the other hand, never mentioned anything to me.


Jaime said...

my mom gave me books every few years and told me that i could always ask if i had questions. i never really asked anything.

honestly, looking back, God really shielded me during those crazy adolescent years. i wanted to date, but not really, and never really did. which was good, cause i'd never put any thought into how much was too much and how to avoid such situations, etc. and i probably would have done something i'd later regret.

i am hoping to talk more with my own children, but still shudder at the thought. will have to get over that though! ;)

Anonymous said...

I don't know if my parents were planning to tell me, but I found out from a friend and one of her books about where babies came from. She was two years older and the daughter of one of my mother's friends, not a close friend of mine. I came home and told my whole kindergarten class at school the next week. Somehow my parents figured out that I knew, so I never heard anything else from them until I was fifteen and my mom told me that when I felt ready for sex she would take me to the doctor for a diaphram. Unfortunately our (apostate) church had invited Planned Parenthood to come and teach our youth group about sex...this series of talks was not about abstinence at all, just about different forms of birth control and how to get it (and a lot of misinformation about female cycles). So, when I was ready, I unbeknownst to my parents went and got on the pill, because I had learned it was more effective than a diaphrahm. The same woman who had taught the class prescribed them to me. This was the beginnings of all my misadventures in sex.

Now that I am a Christian and married to a wonderful Christian man I am so glad that I can share this gift with my husband. I have had some hangups, but with his help have gotten over them. My past has also come back to haunt me in the form of cervical dysplasia caused by HPV. I am so determined that my sons wives and my daughter should NEVER have to go through what I have been through these past few months, that I intend to educate my kids lovingly that it is a gift to bestow upon their God given spouses on their wedding night. I also intend to give them accurate information about their bodies because they need to know this stuff!

Jess said...

I actually did consider putting an option on the poll, "I learned about sex from the farm animals."

I've heard several people in real life say that they expect their kids to learn that way (or that they themselves were expected to learn that way).

And all the while, I'm thinking, "do you really want your daughter to think that she's supposed to graze in a field until a stallion rides up beside her, pesters her until she relents, physically is unable to buck him off quick enough, and THAT'S how babies are made? I mean, yeah, that's how FOALS are made... but ... like you, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. How sad.


Kara said...

I laugh when we talk about my mom and talking about sex. My sister and I talk a lot about stuff and still mom shakes her head and laughs at us. :) I am the 2nd of 4 girls and I remember mom talking to my oldest sister and giving her a book to read and talk about. After that we left mom out of it most of the time. I don't know the name of the book but it was really good...lots about stages of maturity, little about boys, basics on sex. It was written by a mom and a daughter. It was the info part... What my parents taught me....they were very affectionate in front of us and we all knew what was going on privately. I never heard anything negative about sex. It was always clear that God's plan (and my parents) was that you had sex after you were married. Someone said already about how other godly people, especially in the teenage years, are important. I think many times vital. Same for me....I wasn't interested in talking about this with my parents during that stage and I hope to remember that and be sensitive to that when my kids are that age. I know a lot of people want so much to have a perfect, close relationship with their kids, but I want to also remember how they are feeling and that there are other people out there that can and should have influence in their lives. There are so many people as I look back that have been so instrumental in my life, I'm really thankful my parents made room for those people.

Kara said...

One more thing. :) Sorry. I just wanted to mention a book that I really like and have read with my son. Its an Usborne book, How Your Body Works. My son loves this book, we have read it many, many times through. (espcially the pages about the "wars" against germs) It has great pictures, body systems are explained and illustrated as machines. I am a nurse and feel no need to give any other explanations except what really takes place so this has been a really good, basic book for that.

I will say, as with everything, every child is different and I don't plan on reading the same books or explaning things the same way with each child. Even with only the two boys I have so far, they are SO different. So, if you have a child that loves book, (machines), and loves to know how things works this is a good book.

eva said...

My parents were open and honest with me. The only problem was that we didn't have a very good relationship to begin with. I didn't take their words or advice very seriously and would never talk with them. They had strong opinions and never really gave me the chance to develop my own, therefore, the rebellion began. It was a "because I said so" kind of household. I look back and see that my parents wanted the best but just didn't use the best method on a strong-willed child.

Brenda said...

Here's how it went at my house. My dad had a talk with my oldest sister (6 years older than me) and handed her "The Life Cycle Library" books. She passed them to my other sister and when they got passed to me, I had already seen them at a friend's house. Also, they had a talk with us in 5th grade. I was a 4th grade teacher when we did "the talk" and it was SO funny to be on the other side. BUT, those girls knew more than ME!!! AACK!
I recently heard about "The Body Book" (look on Amazon). Has anyone read that or seen it? Is it good to use with your daughter?

Anonymous said...

I was taught where babies come from my mother, and a story I'm told of me as a child reveals I knew something about the actual names of male and female anatomy. I was not taught about sex though. I learned by accident by reading the first line of a book my mom had told me to only look at pictures of babies in. I misunderstood what the book said but understood enough to be entirely grossed out. I put the book down pronto and long regretted ever reading from it. Then I was taught in middle school by a woman who went around teaching this at schools. I think I came to value abstinence through a youth group that seemed to teach moralism, instead of teaching God primarily and teaching a biblical view of sex as a secondary lesson. I am glad though I at least heard this and listened. I'm not sure how much they taught sex as healthy, but I grew up always thinking of it with some disgust.

Now I don't think it is disgusting, but I get creeped out when guys show any interest in me as a woman. I suppose part of that simply goes to needing a healthy view of self - not self-esteem though - and part of it comes from growing up with a dad who was not openly affectionate toward mom and hardly ever talked or seemed to pay attention to my sister and me. I had good relationships with men like a christian employer and my best friend's friendly dad, but I didn't have a relationship as close as a parent/child one may have been. In some ways being loved and affirmed by men seems pretty foreign to me - I think this is one reason I now 'freak' when guys seem attracted to me and wonder if I could enter a marriage relationship eventually. I no longer view sex as bad, but I don't know that I would ever be able to date and marry, so I do still have obstacles to overcome - going back to wrong relationships rather than how I was/wasn't taught about sex.

anonymous girl

Kim said...

I honestly don't remember! I think it was a combo of school info, mom info, and friend info. I understood it. I think my mom wanted to have a touchy feely girl talk life when I started my period, but I was basically just annoyed that I had to come in from playing outside to find THAT. (I was wearing white jeans, no less.) I basically DID NOT want to talk about it. It was embarrassing to me at the time! (Now, I find I still don't want to talk about it with my mother.)

I think, in part, that I wish my parents would have covered a LOT more of the spiritual aspects of sex, rather than just the "How it works" stuff. Instead of just saying "dont do it," saying, why not to.


Anonymous said...

I think my mom did a great job-- nothing ever happened with my body that I wasn't expecting or able to talk to her about. I think that openness is key. My church has sex education that is done with children and their parents together-- with the idea of keeping the conversation open.

Good luck with your kids! I think trips in the car were my mom's weapon-- we'd always talk about stuff then, since we didn't have to look at each other.


Anonymous said...

My Mom I believe was raised to think be a good christian = perfect life. So when she married as a virgin at age 18 and in about 3 months had a std and found her young husband running around and was devorced in 6 months she threw out the whole christianity view as false.My talk at 12 was this How much do you know about sex? I said everything (because the neighbor kids whose parents were swingers 1968 indeed had told me everything they had seen by the time I was 8 and guess what at the age of 48 I look back and realize there was hardly a perversion I hadnt learned about from them) So then my mom said good and Dont wait untill you get married to do it and dont come home pregnant If you are smart you ll figure it out wink wink . You can imagine that apparently I found out I wasnt very smart and that whole part of my life was a tragic mess, I realize my Mom felt she was saving me from the heartbreak she had and didnt realize the hell she was sending me into.I am trying not to just knee jerk backwards with my girls but it is hard for me to know what to do.I teach them to wait for marriage how to gaurd against temptations and that Christianity is not a perfect life on this earth and that God is their help in all things but as a fairly new christian I am not sure I am doing all I can. I also want to save my children from the heartbreak I had without sending them into an even deeper pit.

Jess said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences and your heart. Hopefully, this series I'm currently doing, as I work through a book written about how to talk with your kids and teach them about sex, will be helpful to you and others like you.

It is difficult to know how to do things when you've had an extreme experience one way or the other. Though it seems radically different, I would imagine that many people who grew up in a legalistic home and never heard anything about it are actually quite like you. Quite ashamed of what they knew about sex, quite embarrassed about the actions they took because of the amount of knowledge they had, and quite serious about doing things differently from their parents.

And that can be good. But like anything, we need to have balance. Hopefully, this book and further Bible study and mentoring will teach us ALL how to do a balanced and thorough and biblical job of teaching our children about sex.

Thanks again for sharing!

dcrmom said...

Wow. I wish I had time to read all these comments. I will go with #2. My mom handled the discussion beautifully. When I was about 7 or 8, I wouldn't stop questioning, so she sat down with me and told me about it. I definitely came away with the understanding that it was intended to be a beautiful and loving act between a married man and woman. Lines of communication were always open, and even after marriage, I've been able to talk things over with my mom. I hope I can do as good a job with my kids.

Jess said...

This was a VERY interesting poll result (to me, at least). 177 people voted in the poll, and here are the final results from the poll, in descending order:

(1) I heard absolutely nothing about sex from my parent(s). Whatever I learned, I learned from other sources (friends, TV, etc.). 52 votes, 29%

(2) My parent(s) gave me an appropriate introduction to sexuality. It may not have been perfect, but they did a pretty good job. 50 votes, 28%

(3) My parent(s) did the best they could, but I wouldn't do it the same way. 29 votes, 16%

(4) I got a clinical/biological description with no love or enjoyment as part of the discussion. 13 votes, 7%

(5) I was sexually abused as a child and that was my introduction to sexuality. 10 votes, 5%

(6) My parent(s) gave me a lecture, and made me feel that sex was wrong or bad. 9 votes, 5%


- My parents gave me TOO much information (personal details, descriptions, etc.). I wish I would have known LESS. 5 votes, 2%
-OTHER 5 votes, 2%

(8) My parent(s) gave inaccurate information (babies come from storks, kissing gets you pregnant, etc.). I had to get my "real" sex ed from other sources. 4 votes, 2%

Thanks, ladies- for your votes and for your excellent comments! It DOES surprise me to find that the largest group represented here heard absolutely NOTHING from their parents. But it IS encouraging to hear that the next largest group thought their parents did a pretty good job.

I'm determined to do better, and to prayerfully and hopefully be a part of that last group-- and I hope you are too!