How To Talk to Your Child About Sex: The Sex Pyramid

As adults, we have a responsibility to pass along the lessons we have learned. A number of years ago, our neighbor’s 16-year-old daughter made the common assumption that her boyfriend was serious about her and that the relationship was destined for marriage. She certainly was serious about him and thought that she loved him. When she got pregnant, and quickly discovered he was not going to marry her, she lamented: “I just wanted him to love me.” We listened in dismay to the raw pain as she repeated the phrase again and again, like a mantra. And, of course, adding insult to injury, the boy’s mother – not wanting her teenage son (and the family) to be saddled with the responsibilities of a wife and child – caustically suggested (in the pre-DNA era) that the child might not even be her son’s. Not a single element of this sad, tawdry story surprises any adult over 30. It is an old and totally predictable tale. Today, it bears repeating, though, because heartbroken responses like our young neighbor’s appear to surprise folks when the same thing happens in current circumstances, despite all the sex-ed in school and despite all the supposed sexual equality and freedom. Today’s teens talk breezily and brazenly about sexual matters. They claim that “sex is no big deal.” They have their own vocabulary to describe the cavalier intimacy. “Hooking up” . . . “scoring” – there seem to be plenty of convenient euphemisms for sexual experimentation. The latest lingo is a re-run: “fooling around.” It all sounds casual enough – blasé enough. But, somebody needs to ask,...