40 Things I’ll Teach My Kids About Sex.

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Rather than a “Sex Talk,” I want to talk to my kids early and often about relationship structures, sex and pleasure, kink, varying perspective on safe sex and sexual fluidity.

Here’s a list of things I’ll be sure to cover:

1. Monogamy is just one way of doing things, it’s not inherently better or healthier. Make sure you make a choice about how to structure your relationships instead of defaulting to heteronormativity or compulsory monogamy.

2. Gay and straight are over-simplified terms. Most people are somewhere in between, orientation can change—and some folks don’t even identify as male or female.

3.  It’s okay to have casual sex if you feel clear and comfortable about wanting to. If you make a mistake, you will just learn from it.

4. Slut shaming is never okay, whether coming from you, or directed toward you. There is nothing inherently wrong with having sex, enjoying sex, talking about sex, etc.

5. No sex should be emotionally damaging.

6. Consent is the one thing you must have in any intimate encounter. There is no gray area here—and it is never too late to say no.

7. Consent is more than the absence of a “no.” Consent means everyone involved is clearheaded enough to make a choice, obviously comfortable and wanting to move forward. Consent is actively saying yes, either with words or actions.

8. Spend a lot of time thinking about and experimenting with your attraction to people of different genders.  Don’t feel the need to “pick a camp” and stick with it.  Sexual orientation is fluid and hard to determine in a culture that views it so dichotomously.

9. Kink can add a whole other dimension to sexual experience and may be something you want to try.

10. The Kink motto “safe, sane, and consensual” really applies to all sex.

11. Kink/BDSM are normal, healthy modes of sexual and erotic expression.

12. Sex should never hurt unless pain is a specific goal and purposeful. Don’t let anyone tell you pain is necessary to endure to have sex, the first time—or any time.

13. When penetration is part of a sexual encounter, foreplay should be varied and last until both people are certain they are ready for penetration.

14. Lubrication is only the beginning of arousal in females, and not a sign of readiness for vaginal penetration.

15. In general, you should be getting oral sex if you are giving it, unless you truly prefer not to. Sex should be reciprocal.

16. Penetration is only one of many, many ways to have sex and you can still have great sex without it.

17. Pulling out is a very bad birth control method.

18. Condoms are also a pretty bad birth control method.

19. Hormonal birth control can fuck you up in a lot of ways doctors won’t tell you about.

20. Prior to vaginal or anal penetration, practice on yourself first. Use astroglide or another water-based lubricant, start with small dildos and work up to larger.

21. Learn to make yourself come so you know what you like before being with a partner.

22. Masturbation is normal, healthy, fun, relaxing, and something you can do both within and outside the context of a variety of types of relationships, both with and without partners present.

23. Partners cannot read your mind, you will need to tell them what you like and don’t like, and they will need to tell you.

24. There is nothing wrong with looking at porn. I encourage you to encounter a variety of erotic material, including mainstream porn, feminist and other porn, erotic writing and your own written and imagined fantasies.

25. When you do look at porn, understand the vast majority is very unrealistic on many levels, and getting too used to getting aroused from porn can have negative consequences for partnered sex. All things in moderation.

26. Fantasies are never wrong no matter the content, including about someone other than the person you are with, and yes, even during sex.

27. Sex with more than one person at a time can be fun and something you might want to try. Safer sex practices are of utmost importance here.

28. Anal play can be pleasurable for both men and women, gay and straight.

29. Taking on roles you wouldn’t in other contexts, like being dominated or dominating can be fun and shouldn’t be seen as un-feminist or unhealthy if consensual.

30. Safer sex can be fun and sexy. Creativity is key.

31. You should feel completely at ease asking a partner to get STI tested before sex,but remember, unless they are monogamous with you, their status will go back to unknown right after that test.

32. There is no 100% safe sex. Preventing fluid exchange is the safest way to play.

33. There are some STI’s like HPV that there is little way to protect from and no test for (in men). Having said that, there are financial interests invested in making us more frightened about HPV than may be necessary. Always evaluate medical information from all sides. You will need to decide if you will view HPV as a normally occurring virus to live with or something you want to avoid.

34. Don’t let anyone tell you you can age out of your sex life, but realize your sexual experiences will change during different life stages.

35. Before having penetrative sex with an opposite sex partner, be sure you have thought through the consequences of pregnancy and are prepared to address pregnancy if it should occur, even if you are using lots of birth control.

36.  No birth control method is 100%. A 1-2% failure rate is very high. You have no idea how easy it is to be one in one hundred.

37. Having multiple sexual partners can be fulfilling, empowering, fun, help you learn about yourselves and what you like, and sustain you if you ever end up attempting to maintain a monogamous, long-term relationship.

38. Try lots of sex toys, but wash frequently and share with caution.

39. Sexual exploration with roleplay, sensation play, toys, additional partners, etc., can be good ways to keep sexual excitement in a long-term relationship, but require good, honest communication.  Sex will feel different and take more work after the limerence “honeymoon” phase of a relationship.

40. In general, if you aren’t comfortable talking about it, you shouldn’t be comfortable doing it.  Great sex requires great communication.



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: 30.media.tumblr.com via Kathy on Pinterest


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Lyla Cicero

Lyla Cicero created UndercoverInTheSuburbs.com, where she writes about her life as a double agent – LGBTQIAPK-affirmative, sex-positive, pansexual, feminist blogger disguised as a suburban therapist, wife, and mother. Lyla seeks to expand notions of identity in the areas of gender, sexual orientation, motherhood, and sexuality, creating space for emerging and nuanced identities for women, men and everyone else. Lyla has a doctorate in clinical psychology. Her work is focused on sexual and relationship problems, the transgender community, and other sexual and gender minorities. Lyla is a pseudonym used to protect her secret agent status (and her therapeutic relationship with clients).

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anonymous Mar 19, 2014 8:12am

I enjoyed the article and agree with a LOT of the points made. I actually talked with my son 16 years ago (he is now 26) about the majority of these issues.
However, you seriously dropped the ball on not talking about STDs ENOUGH. HIV and other STDs that have heretofore been taken care of with a penicillin shot. I know that most young people really do not think they can get deathly sick until they do and a lot of that has to do with brain maturity. As a parent, we can only hope the good seeds we plant will take bloom before that fateful day.
Youth aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 26% of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2010.
Most new HIV infections among youth occur among gay and bisexual males; there was a 22% increase in estimated new infections in this group from 2008 to 2010.
Almost 60% of youth with HIV in the United States do not know they are infected.
You are smart, savvy and all things wonderful Lyla. Please re-vamp this list to include this information. Most individuals don't understand that these things can and do happen to them.

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 9:11pm

Ok…seriously. Number 2 is just not sitting right with me. "orientation can change". Really?

Isn't this the OPPOSITE message gay people would like to be relayed? They've been fighting for society to accept that sexual orientation isn't a choice, subject to change, yet here you are promoting it as something that is changeable. I don't get it??

However, maybe the people who do need to experiment with their sexual orientation were raised in a way where sexuality was confusing, unhealthy, or had skewed boundaries. Or, if gay, were made to feel abnormal, so experimentation became a necessary way of knowing oneself. If that's the case, then perhaps experimentation is necessary. However, my understanding is that this conversation is about intentionally imparting a specific message on children as you are raising them so that it becomes their foundation and base of reference, which to me, requires a completely different approach.

In my world, being straight was considered normal and I never questioned what I was or what I wanted and I've always considered myself as sexually healthy. So the approach I have taken with my kids is to relay the message that who they are, overall, is 'normal' and 'perfect' regardless of what society may say. My goal is that my kids feel completely comfortable in their own skin and accept themselves, as they are.

So unless people have been given confusing messages about who they are, why would their sexual orientation be a confusing matter, needing to be experimented with? And to be very clear, I object to the point that sexual orientation is up for experimentation. Not experimentation, in general. I think that can be fun and healthy.

Also, I'm confused, your bio says you're a mom, but your article is written in a way that makes me think these conversations haven't yet happened. Perhaps your kids are too young for these conversations at this point? Because number 3 raises another red flag for me as well. "It’s okay to have casual sex if you feel clear and comfortable about wanting to. If you make a mistake, you will just learn from it." That's a very broadminded approach, certainly. But as a mom of a 15 year old son and an 11 year old daughter, AND someone who ABSOLUTELY wants them to experience having incredibly fulfilling and phenomenal sex (like I have), I definitely don't want them to experience more heartache than necessary. And even though having a phenomenal sex life can be achieved in a round-about way through making unfortunate mistakes, that certainly isn't optimal. What is optimal, however, is to raise children to be as conscious, awake and in touch with their inner, divine selves so that their choices are inline, as much as possible, with what is best for them in a way that respects who they are as individuals. To promote making mistakes as a way of accomplishing something wouldn't be my approach. Many mistakes can be avoided if there is a strong internal reference point; that place where we go to find out what is best for us? What makes us happy? What do we need and want?

So rather than imparting all kinds of beliefs on kids, isn't it better to encourage them to turn inward, to their internal reference point so they learn to discern, for themselves what is best for them?

anonymous Mar 15, 2014 6:59pm

Hmmmm. For the most part I agree with your points. There are some red flags that come up for me when you talk about kids exploring with sexual orientation however. On one hand we are teaching kids that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, that they are born straight or gay and to own, embrace and accept who they are. We inform “‘ignorant’ (for the lack of a better term) people that gay people are as incapable of changing their sexual orientation as straight people are. And in doing so we emphasize that we are naturally straight or gay. So why do you see it helpful to tell a child to experiment with their sexual orientation? What would be the need of doing that? I personally have talked to my kids in a way that makes it seem normal to be either straight or gay so that if they are gay they don’t need to be confused by their feelings. But it never dawned on me that they would need to experiment to find out. I find that concept bizarre.

anonymous Oct 14, 2013 6:17am

Nice list, I really feel like printing this and putting it up in public places (toilets for example ;-)).

I think the second-last point could be rephrased. “Sex will feel different and take more work after the limerence “honeymoon” phase of a relationship.” For me, it’s always been the other way round. After starting to trust a person and getting to know each other, sex has become much less work and much more exciting. So yes, “Sex will feel different”, but the in what way is different for every individual.

    anonymous Oct 14, 2013 6:50am

    Also, point 15, “In general, you should be getting oral sex if you are giving it, unless you truly prefer not to. Sex should be reciprocal.” sounds a bit strange, almost like I have the right to get oral sex if I give it. I agree that in a sexual relationship where both partners like to get oral sex, but only one of them is willing to give it, this is something that should be discussed. But there is nothing wrong about that situation if both people are okay with it, and no one should feel pressured into giving oral sex if they don’t like to.

anonymous Oct 8, 2013 9:37pm

love this, but just wanted to comment that i think the info in number 33 is a little misleading. yes, there's a lot of hype about hpv to be critical thinkers about, but there are particular strains of hpv that cause genital warts, cervical dysplasia, etc. etc. and those are very serious and should be considered. i hope my kid comes to understand enough about hpv that they know why it is important to communicate to partners that they have it or not, what strains they have, and whether those strains are something they choose to view as an STI/health concern or as something occurring pretty normally. also, there is an HPV test for men. a lot of care providers don't keep up to date enough to know about it, but it's there and available to order from most major labs.

    anonymous Oct 9, 2013 12:52am

    I'm a care provider and I also don't know about an HPV test for men. The CDC still says there is no test for HPV in men. Which test are you referring to?

anonymous Oct 8, 2013 2:08pm

Ummmm…never mind the kids, I can think of a heck of a lot of adults that could stand to read this list! At least parts of it.

I wish that I'd read (and understood/followed) this list when I was much, much younger. Good for you for writing!

anonymous Oct 8, 2013 10:59am

#33? “Having said that, there are financial interests invested in making us more frightened about HPV than may be necessary.”

I agreed with a lot of your article but this sounded totally strange in context to the rest. I certainly won’t be trying to tell my children there is some strange conspiracy about HPV if that is what you are implying…

There are certain strains of HPV that are worriesome but nothing to cry out against conspiracy theories and men in dark board rooms concocting schemes. The strains that exist that cause cancer can now be vaccinated against. For free. End of worry in my book and I know my kids male and female will have it.

Let’s not let fear cloud our minds to reason.

anonymous Oct 8, 2013 7:45am

More precisely, consent is the state of whole-heartedly wanting [some activity goes here]. Put that way, it's quite obvious that when the wanting stops, the consent goes away.

"Saying yes" and "saying no" are ways to communicate consent, not consent itself. And there are many other ways to communicate it – body language for "I am uncomfortable about this" is communication of non-consent, for example.

anonymous Oct 7, 2013 2:14pm

Excellent article, and encourages me to be even more open and direct in teaching my children that sex is a natural and important part of life – love the approach of "rather than a sex talk." My mother's approach was 180 degrees the other direction (extremely traditional and Victorian in nature); I think I would have made a lot less mistakes and become comfortable with my sexuality (at 50 still working on it, lol) a lot sooner. My only other comment would be perhaps a little more emphasis on that it is just as normal and healthy if you do not enjoy anal or kink – seems to me the important thing is to be open and accepting of however your sexuality manifests itself. Again, great read!

anonymous Oct 7, 2013 1:25pm

Totally cool. This passes my parenting acceptability test, along with my fiancee's.
Waylon, Lyla, keep bringing us the good news!
Also, to the comment above about squirting and tantric sex, right on!

anonymous Aug 21, 2013 6:17pm

Great. One thing I'd love to hear is that it's okay to not like porn. It's not uncommon to be accused of being close-minded for saying that, when in fact, it just doesn't appeal and I prefer to explore sexuality in different ways.

anonymous Apr 30, 2013 11:47pm

Hm I have to agree with the last pointer and "all thing in moderation". That was absolutely hilarious! http://www.docboard.org/ok/ok.htm

anonymous Apr 29, 2013 1:20am

"Great sex requires great communication." The end.

I couldn't have said it better myself!

anonymous Apr 26, 2013 9:18pm

Hi Felix, yes, you are right. I guess rather than defining the word consent, I would be trying to communicate to my kids that they should strive for a higher standard of consent. Perhaps I should have worded it differently, but I would encourage them to look for an obvious yes, whether through words or body language, rather than the absent of "no." Thanks for your comment.

anonymous Apr 26, 2013 7:31pm

"Consent is more than the absence of a “no.” Consent means everyone involved is clearheaded enough to make a choice, obviously comfortable and wanting to move forward. Consent is actively saying yes, either with words or actions."

Actually, consent does only mean some kind of agreement that proceeding is OK. The word consent only covers that, and most definitely does not cover being "obviously comfortable and wanting to move forward" — that's why "consent" is a crappy term to use about sex. I prefer something like "mutually desired," which does cover those extra things.

anonymous Apr 26, 2013 4:06pm

Hi, there so glad you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for the ideas. They sound like they'd be a great addition to the 2.0 version of what I want to teach my kids about sex. Appreciate your thoughts!

anonymous Apr 26, 2013 2:33pm

Most Excellent List! Love Love Love it. I love what you say about it not being a "sex talk" but just part of every day life talk. I would add something about Female Ejaculation / squirting being something normal/pleasurable that you might want to learn about whether your a guy or a girl and something about how men can learn to orgasm and ejaculate separately as well as how men can develop enough muscular control to have ejaulatory choice. In keeping with these Ideas I would add that you might want to experiment with tantric sexual practices/ideas – similar to the practice of yoga that can enrich the quality of sexual experience.

anonymous Apr 26, 2013 8:23am

Excellent, excellent article… had to share.

    anonymous Apr 26, 2013 8:58am

    Thanks for sharing!! Glad you enjoyed.

anonymous Apr 26, 2013 2:05am

This was brilliantly written! Though I have no children yet, this will be a thought provoking and beautiful list of things to cover with them!

    anonymous Apr 26, 2013 6:27am

    Thank you so much, glad to hear it will be helpful!

anonymous Apr 25, 2013 8:14pm

back at you!

anonymous Apr 25, 2013 7:19pm

high five

anonymous Apr 25, 2013 6:02pm

Well done!

Bob Smith Aug 29, 2017 2:55pm

It's unfortunate people have gotten away from God's design for sex in a loving, commited marriage.