To Our Daughter
E-mail from a father
The inevitable happened; our 12 year-old daughter went to a friend's house and they spent time looking at pornography. Afterwards she peppered me with questions.
My wife hadn't gotten home from work yet, and I knew she would never forgive me if I said, "Ask your mother when she gets home."
Plus, I was happy that she had told me -- I wouldn't have admitted something like that to my parents at her age -- and my wife and I agreed when our daughter got to be 12 we would stop saying, "You'll understand it when you grow up."
In case you haven't noticed, kids grow up real fast these days. I hope our daughter didn't take notes on all the times we said that!
Fortunately, our daughter knew some basic things about sex. My wife saw to that and right then I was grateful.
I didn't know whether I should let my daughter ask questions -- some of which I'm sure I wouldn't want to answer -- or launch into an explanation of pornography.
I definitely didn't want to poison sex for her by condemning it. My parents did that in a big way for me.
Plus, compared to what kids see in the media, what parents try to say can become suspect; and once that happens kids can start to discount everything parents say.
Since I didn't know how to start, I said, "How did you feel about what you saw?"
She said, "I guess the people were enjoying it, although sometimes I didn't think so."
I said, "They were acting like they were enjoying it; they are actors, and that's they are supposed to do."
"So they weren't really?"
"Sex can be enjoyable with someone you love and when you are not acting." I smiled, thinking about all the women who fake it.
"Do you and mommy enjoy it like those people?"
This was getting real personal, real fast. "Yes, we do (I thought to myself, except maybe when she's faking it)."
"So you do it a lot I guess."
"When we can and when we aren't tired (which is one of her favorite excuses)."
"I didn't know boys looked like that..so big!" (Don't I wish all us boys were!)
"They get big like that when they get sexually excited."
She laughed, "I guess otherwise they would look goofy walking around like that. And mommy said sex causes babies."
"That's one way of putting it."
"So the people we saw wanted babies?"
"No, the women use birth control, so they can't get pregnant."
She nodded, "Unless they want to."
"Or unless they forget to use their birth control."
I thought this would be a good place to throw in a hint about safe sex. "They can also get sexual diseases if they don't use condoms, and the diseases can be very bad."
"We were supposed to learn about condoms in our health class, but our teacher said the school didn't want them talked about and I didn't see any in the movies."
"Either the people in the movies were being very foolish or else they were examined by doctors who said they didn't have any diseases."
She tried to put it all together. "So people enjoy it, but if they don't watch out it can cause a baby and they can get diseases."
"That about sums it up." I was hoping that was the end of the discussion, but, alas, it wasn't.
"The woman sometimes had the man's penis in her mouth. Is that so they won't get a baby or a disease?"
"They can still get a disease. They do it because it feels good, especially for the man."
"And white stuff came out."
"That's ejaculate, or sperm, which when it's inside the woman can result in a baby."
"So you and mommy do that too?"
Don't I wish! That's called oral sex. Some women don't like to do that, but, remember, the women -- and the men too -- were paid to do what you saw."
"And this one time there was this very pretty woman that was doing stuff with two men. Does mommy ever do that?"
(Yea, right! That's one I would definitely like to pass over to her to answer!) "Most women just have sex with their husbands and think it's wrong to be with anyone else."
"But in the movie weren't they enjoying it?"
"That's part of the acting."
I thought I would throw in an answer that she didn't yet ask. "But people have to be at least 18 years old to do the stuff that you saw, otherwise people can get into trouble. And I'm sure you'll have a lot more questions before then."
She considered it. "Okay," and was gone."
Somehow, I was proud of the way I handled this.