Mar 302010

A friend’s recent detailing on Twitter about catching her son masturbating in her room to her porn and the ensuing information shared between the two of them in casual conversation reminded me of another story from another friend. Now, the other friend is one from real life who is decidedly less “sexually open” but still in the more progressive camp. This friend, I’ll call her Donna, got pregnant at a very young age and so she’s 16 yrs older than her daughter who’s a freshman at college, and her son is coming of age at 17 yrs old. In a dual attempt at heading off unsafe sex and being a better parent, she made sure her kids always knew that if they needed birth control and condoms that she’d rather they come to her than hide it and get in trouble.

That openness led to her teenage son inappropriately oversharing one night to his mortified mother, telling her that him and his girl-0f-the-week had tried anal sex and hey mom have YOU tried it? After her shock wore off she told him that that was none of his business, nor was it any of hers. She would get him more condoms if need be, but didn’t want or need to hear personal details.To be clear, he wasn’t asking questions on “how” he was just relating his experience in a friendly “wow that was awesome” sort of way.

And I agree, but yet… it a double standard if you will, if that same information were being discussed with her daughter I think she would have freaked out a little bit less. And if it were her daughter sharing the info with her, I’d have been less squicked-by-proxy.As it is, I’m hoping I don’t have to see her son any time soon because I’ll have a bit of a hard time talking to him, knowing what I know now. What I wish I didn’t know.

Am I wrong? “unprogessive”? Closed-minded? I think that intimately personal information like that shouldn’t be shared between mother and son or father and daughter, no matter the intent and relationship. Between mother and daughter, and father and son? I feel differently about it. It can be discussed in a friend-yet-parental way. If you don’t agree with me, can you explain why?

I can recall a time in HS when I found condoms in my parents headboard. I was MORTIFIED. My father knew I’d seen them, as I was helping look for something and he’d said “no they’re not in there” but I opened the door before the message got to my brain. We didn’t speak of it. Neither of us wanted to. I can’t even imagine finding a sex toy or porn belonging to a parent and ugh no no especially not my father. My mother? Eh, we don’t have that sort of “my mother is my best friend so let’s help each other buy sex toys and shop for clothes and talk about our sex lives” relationship and we never, ever will.It was really fucking surreal and twilight-zone when my pot-noob mom asked me if I could get her some weed so she could try it. And oh yeah, something inconspicuous to smoke it out of. I spent my early 20’s HIDING my smoking (both kinds) habit from her….now she wants me to supply her and join in. I’m not sure I can cross that internal boundary.

This whole topic though is 100% different from the necessary sex ed talks that should be given by whatever parent is around and capable. It’s different, and a parental duty. Just wanted to make that point known.

As a bystander, I don’t even want YOU to tell ME about your teenage son or daughter and what they’ve done. To me that’s betraying a privacy and confidence, even if it’s just your kid and not a big deal to you. Your kid would be humiliated if they knew.

In a similar vein, I’m wondering if/when I should discreetly let my 17 yr old favorite cousin know that if she “needs anything” she can privately come to me. Her boyfriend and both families are fairly religious; he’s a missionary at only 19. But the moment I heard that he got her a webcam so they could see each other while chatting long distance? My “omg I was a teenager once and if we had webcams back then?!?!” reaction was “Oh hell NO they’re not just chitchatting!!”. But I hesitate to say anything to her. Does she need a “cool aunt”? Is it overstepping? Don’t I wish I’d known more my freshman year of college? But what if my assumptions are wrong and she’s really and truly a good girl and destined to be a virgin for at least 3 more years? But then I watch Gossip Girl (shut UP) and think “wow….are kids these days really this debaucherous? was I that innocent?” And I just don’t know the answers.

 Posted by at 10:16 am

  6 Responses to “Teenage Boundaries”

  1. I think if in your friend’s situation, I would have taken a different tactic. I would have asked him if he really – truly – wanted to know the answer to that question. I think teenagers sometimes talk before thinking about what they really are saying. I would have said the same thing to the kid even if it was a girl.

    Be the cool cousin. I acted in that role for my friend’s daughter. She liked having an ear of an adult that wasn’t her parent and wouldn’t judge her.

  2. I guess I’m wondering 2 things- your friend, is the dad also around? If not, who else would he ask? And *how* he asked about anal sex can make a difference. Was it out of genuine curiosity or was he acting his age and trying to get a reaction out of his mom?

    I agree with Emmy, you should be the cool cousin.

  3. I am of the opinion that sons or daughters should be able to go to either parent if they have questions or curiousities (sp?) – and they should be met with matter-of-fact information that is appropriate for the child’s age/maturity. And I agree with Emmy – maybe he opened his mouth before he thought about what he was saying. :)

    And yes, be the cool cousin. Given the family, you might be the only one who can give her the answers to her questions, trips to planned parenthood, or anything else that she might need.


  4. Teenagers will always find it mortifying when an adult tries to talk about sex with them. Or if anyone tries to talk about sex with them, for that matter. I would chat to your cousin though, you’re one step removed from the ‘parent’ role so it makes it less cringey and I think knowing that you’re there for her would be great, even if she didn’t want to have the conversation in the first place! And it always shocks me how much people younger than me get up to – my 12 year old sister’s friend was telling me about her ‘boyfriends’ the other day, and I know it’s innocent but she still seems like a baby to me!

    Me and my mum have quite a good relationship when it comes to sex; I know I could go to her with any problems I have but I don’t really, we both don’t want to know about each others sex life although there’s no pretense that it doesn’t happen. I like it that way!


  5. I’m quite sure my husband does not discuss matters sexual with my son so I have tried to ensure that I am as open with him as I am with his sister.

    However, I don’t think it’s quite right to be discussing intimacies rather than generalisations when it’s going from the parent down. If the questions/information/conversation is coming from the son/daughter, then you talk to the level at which both of you are comfortable. I think she should be proud that her son felt so at ease with her that he could have such a conversation but it does depend on the manner in which he said the words.

    I can recall my daughter asking me in front of a group of her mates if I had ever given a blow job. When I tried to fob her off by saying that I didn’t think that was a conversation we should have in polite company, she and her mates all shouted ‘That means you have!’ They were 11 at the time!

  6. I had no transparency with either of my parents when it came to sex…firstly because I didn’t think they had any and secondly it was *never* discussed. I wished I had a “cool aunty” to initiate some of that with me!

    Having two boys and a girl I figure I better find my way to being able to provide at least the factual information for both sexes. Mine are still younger so I am still at the hoping stage that they will ask when the questions occur. If they want to discuss details…it may turn into a lesson in what is comfortable and what is not.

    The fact that you have found yourself feeling uncomfortable makes me ask the question of myself. Intellectually I would like to think that I can remain neutral to either sex’s questions but ya know, I don’t know if I will. Time will tell on that one. Thanks for the heads up! :)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.