My husband and I were high school sweethearts. We met at 14, started dating, broke up, got back together, got serious AF – and at 16 years old, we started having sex. And for the years that we still lived at home and were enrolled in high school, we had a shit-ton of very loving, safe, and consensual sex with careful and correct use of birth control … in our parents’ home, and with their knowledge and permission.
Looking back at the whole experience now, as a parent, I have a few thoughts. First, as the mom of a 12-year-old, I can’t freaking believe how close in age my son is to the age that his dad and I met, fell in love, and became sexually active. I mean, hello? This kid can’t even remember put to on deodorant. I can’t imagine him entering into a relationship anytime soon – and the idea of him becoming sexually active in the next few years? As a mom, the idea of it seriously freaks me out.
And yet, if he does go that route – and with the average age that kids lose their virginity these days at about 17 years old, it’s isn’t too far-fetched – I will likely do the same thing my husband’s and my parents did. I will knowingly let him have sex in his room, under my roof. Though I sure as shit don’t need to know about each and every time it happens!
Let me tell you why.
Growing up, my mom was very upfront and frank about sex. I understood how it worked in a clinical sense from a very young age, and was in touch with how my body worked and even what I liked sexually before I had sex. Thanks to my mom, I also understood that sex was a sacred act, at least in the sense that it should happen between two people who love and trust each other.
And I understood – because she had always been so open about it – the importance of safe sex. I knew about all the birth control methods that were out there, not from health class, but from my mother and her handy copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves. In fact, I remember schooling my friends about how to use condoms –that yes, you had to use one each and every damn time so help you God.
So at least in my case, being open about sex had huge benefits in terms of my ability to start my sex life in a mature and responsible way. In fact, my mother was the first one I told that I had lost my virginity. I won’t pretend it was the most fun conversation on earth. I mean, I was a moody teenager at the time and I remember being pissed off about at least one thing my mother said.
But I also knew that telling her was important. And I was right. She helped me make an appointment soon after to see a gynecologist. She and I discussed birth control in general. It’s one thing to know about birth control theoretically, but it’s quite another to discuss it with an experienced adult, and it’s something all kids should have, in my opinion.
The part about me and my boyfriend having sex under her roof wasn’t spelled out exactly. But she knew, and I knew I had her blessing.
I remember hearing of friends of mine who had sex in all kinds of questionable and potentially unsafe ways. Often, especially in those scenarios, birth control was “forgotten,” and sex happened with people who my friends didn’t exactly trust. Knowing that I could take my boyfriend into the comfort of my own home – which was well stocked with birth control – and that sex was not something you did on the run, or in a secretive way … all of that was major for me as a young person just finding her groove as a sexual being.
I was lucky in that my husband’s parents took the same exact approach, and so we had two safe places to get it on.
I know my story is just one, and can’t be used as a model for every kid, in every situation. But I also know that kids – yes, even my kids, and your kids too – are going to have sex. Not all of them will being doing it at 16, like I was. Some will even start earlier, and others will start later.
But they’re going to be doing it, whether we want them to or not, and whether we think it’s time or not. And OMG, I would much rather my kids have sex and hook up in my home, where it’s safe and clean, and where birth control will be plentiful (because yes, I will be buying my kids’ birth control, or at least making sure they are buying and using it themselves).
Do I think this is going to encourage my kids to have more sex than they otherwise could? Nope. I may have been a teen 25 years ago, but if I recall, teens are going to find a way to have as much sex as they damn well please no matter what their parents say. And I would much rather they do so in a safe and educated way.
I truly believe that allowing my teens to have sex under my roof will only encourage safer, more loving and committed sex. By telling them that sex is banned in our house, I am basically inviting them to do it in some shady place where they are more likely to be unsafe. No thanks.
Of course, my kids may still be stupid about sex. Aren’t we all at least a little stupid as teens? But I’d much rather they act stupid in my home than anywhere else, and that they know, should they do anything abysmally dumb – whether it’s with sex, relationship, drugs, you name it – they can come to me, and we can figure out, together, how to address it.