I feel like I have been very open about talking about sex with my daughters. I thought I was up to date on my conversations and vocabulary words etc. I didn't expect to leave feeling as drained, overwhelmed and unprepared as I did.
I got home at 10 PM that night and was disappointed that Phoebe was still awake because I had told her to go to bed much earlier, but relieved because I needed to cover a lot of ground before the next day.
Dr. Sharon Maxwell was going to discuss things that had not yet crossed our dinner table. She was going to connect the dots between science/biology and sexual desire. She was going to strip my daughter of all remaining innocence.
I couldn't argue that this was wrong for my daughter, I needed to keep her home, she wasn't ready. Dr. Sharon Maxwell converted me to her point of view: If you do not educate children NOW, they will not be prepared when the time comes to make wise choices. I agree with that point of view for so many other parts of life, why not this one? It made sense to me, so I embraced her and what she was going to talk to my daughter about the next day. [innocence stealer!]
Some points she made that struck a chord with me:
1. Puberty and Adolescence IS the midwife that is going to birth your children into adulthood, into the adult they are going to be.
2. We are an island, and flowing around us is a river of I NEED, I WANT, I MUST HAVES on the surface and underneath an undercurrent of amorality and desires. Our children get closer and closer to the edge of the island and we need to provide them with a structure to navigate the waters.
3. Sexy is Powerful. What we wear sends a message. Boys are way more visual than girls and so what the girl puts on is sending a message directly to that boy whose sexual desires are ignited by what he sees.
4. Pornography and the activity that goes with that (trying to keep my blog rated PG-13) are destroying intimacy and relationships. She sees patients who engage in said activities so often that when it is time to have an intimate relationship, they are unable to do so because their brains have been reprogrammed to the pornography.
5. Girls often perform sexual acts because they want to do something for the boy--they are not thinking about themselves or what would make them feel good-it's all about the boy. She wants to empower the girls to choose who they will allow into their personal/sexual space and do it for good reasons. She wants them to know themselves well enough that they can make informed decisions. In my case, I will be teaching my daughter to NOT let boys into that space, and have a good reason for saying NO.
6. Sexual desire is like hunger or anger and just as you use self discipline for desires in the hunger and anger category, you can also redirect sexual desire into something else. She mentioned that people might identify that as abstinence education, but she says it's not. I personally think it is a great piece of advice as in my experience abstinence was taught like this: DON'T DO IT….it would have been great to have my sexual desires be acknowledged and then taught what to do about that.
I waited until I was married to have sex. I know people think that is crazy and don't believe it. It is true. I got married when I was 19…so it was right after I had left the: Get Naked with a boy are you kidding me I would never feel comfortable doing that in a million years PHASE and entered the: I'm down PHASE. Luckily I found the guy right when that was emerging. My point is that I didn't have to RESIST for many years, so maybe you shouldn't be that impressed that I waited…it's just merely a fact. It was the right thing for me.
Dr. Maxwell pointed out that sex means something totally different to a woman than to a man. Women have many senses firing when having a sexual experience, the conclusion of which points to: I LOVE YOU. Imagine all the pain that girls go through when they have had multiple sexual partners. That is not something I want my daughters to experience…and then there is unwanted pregnancy and STD's.
Dr. Maxwell pointed this out several times--that she was providing a framework for us to insert our values. "In our family we…" was a phrase she ingrained into us that night. She said: "When your children have their first sexual experience, you are not going to be there." Even though I knew that, it still felt a little like a sucker punch. Wait, what? Right. Oh, right.
I was so worried about Phoebe losing her innocence, but a great deal of mine was lost last week too. I realized that the reason we have to go through this together is so that I CAN saw off that final bit of umbilical cord…so that I can let her go. Agency is something I hold so very dear, and I have to let my daughter use hers as well. I have felt lost and helpless lately trying to protect, teach, love, guide and strengthen her. I have spent a lot of time on my knees because I feel that praying is about the best thing I can do for her right now as I feel her slipping through my fingers.