The Facts of Life

Scene: North Junior High School, DeKalb, Illinois, circa 1969.  I’m 11 years old and attending sixth grade. Several of us are milling about in an otherwise empty classroom, waiting for the teacher to come, when a kid in my class screams out the f-word for some reason.  Being the Mormon goody-two-shoes that I was, I quickly admonish him not to use such language, adding as a toss-away after thought, “Besides, that word doesn’t even mean anything!”  He looked at me kind of funny for a moment, and then he broke out laughing.  He proceeded to tell me not only does the word have a meaning, he explained to me exactly what it was.  Shocked, I assured him my parents would never do such a thing!  But it didn’t take very much playground research to discover that, crass as he was about it, my acquaintance had been right, and I had now been enlightened as to this basic fact of life.

I was obviously a little bit late to the party in learning this, and I’ve always wondered whether my Mormon upbringing somehow played a role in my delayed illumination.

Anyway, I’m curious about your experiences.  How old were you when you learned the facts of life?  How did you make the discovery?  Did your parents sit down with you and “have the talk,” or did you learn on the streets as it were as I did?  Was this traumatizing to you, or did you take it in stride?  Did the way you learned influence how you resolved to treat this issue with your own children?  Have any of you as parents “had the talk,” and if so, what was the result?  Was it awkward, or did it go ok?  Did or does Mormonism have a role to play in this rite of passage, or are we pretty much like everyone else in this sphere?

Comments

  1. And here I was, thinking you were going to alk about how cool the 80′s TV show was. Bummer

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Good one, Jay!

  3. I was 9 years old, living in rural Texas, and one of my fellow 3rd graders chided me for not knowing about “the birds and the bees and the black eyed peas” (not the band. This was the late 1970s). She then explained that a boy and a girl go in a closet, and the boy sticks his finger in the girl’s bellybutton and 9 days later she has a baby. I said that was ridiculous, then scientifically disproved her claim by sticking my own finger into my own bellybutton with no effect. Then when I got home my older sister explained the real deal to me.

  4. Okay, I’ll play. My parents had a set of 6 or 7 volumes for children. The first volume was Mother Goose rhymes; the next several volumes were stories, with very simple ones in the earlier books to more complex ones in the later books. The last volume must have been meant for parents. But nobody told me that. When I’d read my way through the stories, I opened the last volume. Why not? It had as many pictures as the earlier books. So I read about the birds and the bees, with illustrations, in a rather clinical way, when I was 10 or 11. “Huh,” I thought. “Okay. Oh, look, a new Nancy Drew! I’ll read that next.” I don’t think I ever asked anybody about it, then or later. And Mormonism didn’t have any role.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    For the record, neither my wife nor I had the talk with our two kids (a boy and a girl). I think this was equal measures it just never coming up in a natural way and the realization that I would have been mortified had my parents tried to do that and I actually preferred getting the news from my peers. Right or wrong, they’re both extremely well adjusted adults now, so I have no regrets.

  6. The only thing I can clearly remember from the talk which my father gave me, I suppose when I was around ten years old (though maybe it was earlier), was his account of sperm leaving the penis in search of an egg to fertilize. “They’re fast,” he said, “they’re going like sixty.” In retrospect that always cracks me up, but I suspect that at the time, as someone years away from puberty, I probably found it a frightening enormity. (Dude–rocket-powered sperm!)

  7. I hope you don’t mind me sharing a link as a comment, but I wrote about this very thing, sort of, for Doves and Serpents. Oh, and I know that this is totally played now, but apparently a Swedish GA had to hear about this from some other 11 year-olds who said bad things about his parents, so now he’s not sure he can trust his parents any more :) [That is just meant as a joke, not a snarky comment] http://www.dovesandserpents.org/wp/2012/06/gp-sex-talk-misremembered/

  8. I found out while walking home from fourth grade (?) with neighborhood kids. My parents never talked to me about it other than to say if I had questions I could ask. After my DH and I got engaged we bought and read a book together.

    As for my own children, my husband is not comfortable having the talk with them, so I did it alone. I tried to start by age 8 (they were going to hear about it at school anyway, I figured) using an age appropriate book written by an LDS author. I have had two or three talks with each kid since.

  9. J. Stapley says:

    We have several kids and have talked pretty openly about it since at least the time they started school. We talk about a lot of sciency stuff though; biology and reproduction just sort of fit right in. As they’ve gotten older we talk about other aspects of it. E.g., when we talk about porn in EQ, I mention it over the dinner table and sometimes a conversation happens. Other times it doesn’t.

    I don’t remember much about being a kid myself.

  10. Om the street, neighborhood kids, probably 5th grade or so, which is pretty remarkable, as I spent most of my summers at my grandparents farm, where the evidence was all around. I just never made the logical leap. So we sat down and discussed it with our kids, mostly, I suspect, after they had heard it from their friends. We just wanted to make sure that we weren’t afraid to talk about it with them, even though we were actually petrified of having “The Talk” with them.

  11. I’m not sure exactly, but I think my parents gave the talk to my brother and I when we were very young (like 6 or 7). That was the only time it was directly mentioned by my parents in my hearing.

    My mother has since admitted that they were woefully deficient in that part of my education.

    Personally, both my wife and I have a bit of background in biology, and so we’re much more comfortable talking about it. I think we’ll discuss it fairly regularly with our children, in a non-formal setting, once they turn 9 or 10.

  12. I should have explained that my parents never, ever, spoke to me about sex, except one very oblique question from my father when I was about 18. I fear that I just rolled my eyes and changed the subject. No specific Mormon angle to this at all, except that we all were Mormon.

  13. I was 5, and wondering why my sister’s underwear had bloodstains; asked my mom and got the whole entire talk. I was rather horrified, I just wanted to know if my sister was hurt and if she was going to be ok. In my mom’s defense, she said that her parents never told her anything (whether generational issues or from Mormonism, not sure), so my mom determined that she would tell her kids whatever they wanted to know. She said the problem was we never really wanted to know, so she felt like she had to jump in wherever she saw the slightest opportunity.

  14. I learned the facts of life by reading this post. I blame correlation.

  15. I was 8 years old. Hanging out at my friend’s house when his mom gave him the talk. She talked about how the sperm “shoots” the egg, which made me think of little shotguns. My parents were too freaked out to talk to us about sex. My dad gave me a book about the human body when I was about 9 and told me to talk with him about it sometime, which was of course made me scratch my head..why would I need to talk to my dad about anatomy? My wife and I resolved to not make the whole sex/bodies thing a big deal for our kids, so when each of our 3 kids turned 8, we gave them the talk in very straightforward way, helped by some illustrated books, and it worked out really well. They were old enough to understand it but young enough to not be too embarrassed by it.

  16. I have little talks with my kids all the time (ages 15 to 5). Well, every few months. I find it is easier the younger they are and I just introduce things like “Do you know how long it takes for a baby to grow inside a mom’s tummy?” and then each time we talk we go a different direction or with more detail. If they ask questions or seem interested I go farther.
    “Did you know that to make a baby you need a part from the mom and a part from the dad.” can slide into genetics, into puberty stuff, into intercourse stuff, or whatever. When they are older I might say “I want to talk to you about something serious. Rape. Rape is when someone else forces you to have sexual intercourse with them.” Or maybe one day I bring up infertility and discuss that and then go from there. I like being able to talk about the emotional ramifications of decisions or things that happen to people.
    My advise is to be willing to say things like “I know this is awkward, but it is my job as your parent to teach you things you need to know. These things are a part of life and they are important.”

  17. One of my young sons called me at work one day, to tell me in a horrified voice what two neighbor dogs were doing in our backyard. Since I was alone in my office I proceeded to explain to him the adult equivalent. He was even more horrified and hung up on me. We talked later that night and he was still incredulous, until his older sibs verified the facts. Ah – the loss of innocence!

  18. I learned about it rather early, say 2nd grade. Yes, clumsily and inaccurate though it was. Dad tried to give me the masturbation talk in a moving car when I was 15 using terms that made him snicker, hard to be educated by that.

    We as parents start our kids at very young ages. At 5 they get proper nouns that come with male and female differences. We go a little further at 6 they get more plumbing plus an introduction to functions. At 7 we go even further with functions, using words that they are now used to, words like sperm, egg, uterus, testicles and such. At 8 they are started on values that attend the biology, and at 12 they are fully steeped in the role and vast functions and variations of sex replete with a no guilt approach to masturbation, being presented as fully healthy with obvious limitations, emphasizing personal privacy. We as parents teach abstinence however that is followed closely with an education on condom use just in case. (I learned this best from the stout relief society sisters I worked with who were also nurses at the University of Utah hospital. I think case after case of flaming STD’s that come through on a daily basis by the modestly dressed young Mormon teens would promote such a liberal attitude) At sixteen our boys (I say boys, we have no girls, which makes my comments maybe half insightful) know just about all the basics, which is usually heads and tails above their friends. I confided in my older teens that condoms are available to them to give to their friends.

    I was into my marriage 10 years before I read the book “The guide to getting it on”. I was pretty sure I knew a lot about sex but this is by far, the best, hands down, book about sex, including great insight on how to have passionate sex with the same person for the rest of your life, that there is.

  19. When I was 8 and about to be baptized my dad asked if I had any questions about the gospel. I said I wondered how your spirit gets in your body. He replied by telling me all about where babies come from. I was grossed out and mortified that he thought I was asking about that.
    I also remember a Family Home Evening lesson about where babies come from. I couldn’t have been much more than 8. I distinctly remember my mom saying we were too young a family to discuss this. To parents everywhere: Please Do Not Make Sex A Topic of Family Home Evening.

    My mom’s approach went like this: “Did they talk to you about this stuff at school?” “Yes.” “Did they tell you about boys, too?” “Yes.” “OK then.”

  20. My mom was a La Leche League member, co-leader, and leader from the time I was 2 until I was 12. I was present for the birth of each of my 4 siblings; 1 at home, 2 at birthing homes and one at the hospital. I don’t have a specific memory of “the talk” doesn’t make sense within my childhood. Breasts feed babies, and are erotic parts of sex, and the variety of ways that couples manage breasts leaking milk during sex, was something that I could pin a year on, but I know it was before fourth grade. My siblings and I attended classes offered for siblings whose mothers were pregnant. I had been to several by the time my brother was born, (4th of 5) and was the teacher’s helper for the class my siblings were in, and it worked well enough that I was her assistant for 7 or 8 groups. (I’m not sure if it was 3 or 4 classes per group, but the kids that take the class go one weekend, every month. There was a specific class for kids whose parents were planning a home birth, and since I had helped at my mom’s home birth and 8 or 9 other LLL member’s home birth’s including two that transferred to the hospital, I kept helping teach that class, twice a year, until my teens. All birth classes started out with a basic explanation of how the baby that is going to come out, got there in the first place. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes, and other times it was close to an hour, depending on how many questions kids have. Parents were always there for that part, although most of the classes I was part of, the other kids answered the questions of other kids in their class.

    I haven’t been as active in LLL as my mom, but my kids know all of the anatomically correct names for parts of their bodies, and the bodies of the opposite sex. Usually I wait for them to ask questions, but if I think something is important, I will bring it up. They know I am an incest and rape survivor, and they are aware of the importance of consent , and we talk about what things should be asked explicitly for consent, and what things can be assumed, after consent has been given once, but that consent can always be revoked, by either partner, at any time. Because of my infertility issues, my kids are very aware of cycles and all of the vagrancies when they are inconsistent. My ex-husband’s choice to have a vasectomy, and my older kids wanting more siblings, made for some interesting conversations with the men I have dated.

  21. Rude Dog,
    I second The Guide to Getting it On. It is a really quality book with lots of really good information. My husband and I checked it out from the library and renewed it for a few months because we just kept finding a lot of good stuff.

  22. My mom gave us increasingly adult answers as we got older, starting with “sex is a special kind of hug between mommies and daddies” when I was two to “sex is how adults make babies. You know boys have penises and girls have vaginas, well…” yada yada when I was seven-ish to explanations of sex as both reproduction and bonding when I was probably ten-ish. Molestation was probably brought up as a possibility around six. She gave us answers when we asked, rather than deliberately having “a talk.” We never talked about more sophisticated aspects of consent and gender roles, though, which I think was a real shame, and either influenced by mormonism or just general American sexual culture. I was unintentionally pressured into things by two LDS guys who also had never really been talked to about female sexuality, coercion, and proper consent either.

    I don’t think it’s specific to mormonism, but I feel like our culture really focuses on sexual appropriateness and sin through a “sex” lens instead of a “chastity” lens. Like, what is sex, what counts as sexual sin, what acts are or are not allowed, etc. instead of what is chastity, what does it mean to be chaste in spirit, thought, and action, how do your physical affections make you feel about your relationship with that person and with god, how do we prepare for the three-way covenant of temple sealing, etc.

  23. Coffinberry says:

    Precocious reader with a mom in nursing school=3rd Grader reading the obstetrics textbook cover to cover. Nuf said.

  24. Never had “the talk” with my parents; never will have “the talk” with my kids. Didn’t talk about it at all in any way with my parents; talk about it whenever and quite often, to one degree or another, with my kids.

    I have no idea if we are approaching this the best way for each kid, but it’s a natural part of our lives, and we are treating it that way.

    In my youth Sunday School class last week (high school age students), we were talking about parts of the family proclamation, and we rephrased some of it in very simple, basic terms. Nothing graphic or anatomical, but I did tell them directly that I really hate it when anyone talks about sex as if it is bad, dirty, shameful or anything else that is negative in nature. I told them we don’t talk that way about anything else we say is “ordained of God” – so we ought not talk about sex that way. I also told them, with a grin, that getting really good at it after marriage is a good thing – and that got laughs.

    They appreciated the humor and honesty.

  25. SWKT Parachuter says:

    I was 8 and had been given a kind of kids encyclopedia for my birthday. One of the topics was human reproduction. I read all about eggs and sperm and how they needed to go together. It made sense.

    But what didn’t make sense was how dad got the sperm into mom to make me. One day my mom took us swimming at a friend’s house and I asked “mom, how does the daddy get the sperm into the mom’s vagina?”

    She tried to dodge the question, but eventually she gave in and explained it all to me, including the definition of the f-word (the only time I can ever remember her swearing). I was horrified that my parents and my friends’ parents and my bishop and every adult I ever knew did THAT. How gross.

  26. Gilgamesh says:

    I was six. My sisters had just left for early morning seminary and I was sitting in our living room couch, alone. Then I heard our female cat out front making wierd noises, so I looked out the window, and there was another cat jumping on her back over and over again. Feeling very upset by this, I sought consolation from my parents, who had gone back to bed after my sisters left. In tears, I opened their door, ready to share my concern over our cat, only to find my parents in the very same positions as e cats out front. I quickly closed their door, went back to the couch and sat speechless and in terror. I still have nightmares about that day.

  27. My parent’s education consisted of two books and a PBS special.
    The books were a set, one written for girls and one for boys. The writing was at a kids level and talked about puberty and sex. The pictures were pencil sketches. It was required reading around the age of 9 or 10. They told us that if they had any questions to ask them. The books were clear enough that I did not ask them anything. And yes, we were to read both books.
    They also required us to watch a PBS special with them. We got to stay up late and eat ice cream with them. The only part I remember to this day was seeing a penis becoming erect. TV can’t show the actual penis so they used a heat spectrum video to show it. That’s the part that scared me for life.

  28. With all our kids, we’ve had “the talk” shortly after they turned 8 years old, which was earlier than either of us had it with our parents. Probably a bit earlier than they actually want to know about that, and so far it’s been about two years before they figure out the Santa Claus thing on their own. But we want to be sure they get the details from us first and that they know that their parents are a reliable source of info BEFORE they start putting the picture together based on what they hear from their friends. (I was 10 when I got “the talk,” and it was still a revelation to me, even though I’d heard bits and pieces from elsewhere.)

    One thing that we’ve done that I think has been successful is that we’ve made kind of a special deal of it. We let them stay up past bed time, they get to eat special snacks that we don’t normally buy, and all they know before-hand is that they get to discuss something really cool in a new nights with Mom and Dad, and they’ll have to wait to find out what that is.

    That’s the big thing about the talk: We want them to see sex as something really cool and really important and special. Then they’re hearing about the physiology, the “special factor” and the law of chastity all in the same discussion — and without acting awkward or embarrassed about the subject. Then all the reinforcing discussions we have later are built on that context: The Law of Chastity is about safeguarding sex so that we can keep it special and cool.

    So far so good, but our oldest is only 17 so we’ll see how well this approach holds out in the real world.

  29. I never needed “the talk.” My parents just taught me all the right words, answered questions as they came up, and warned me about predators. (Actually saved me a couple of times, too.) Helps that one is an early child educator, and the other is a social worker.

    I do the same with my kids. It’s pretty easy to gauge how much they are ready to know when they ask the questions. Any “gross” factor wears off with the advent of puberty, so I’m not worried about that. I’d rather they be educated, even if it means they’re a little grossed out at their age, since my oldest was sexually harassed at 5 by a 5-year-old boy, two of the 1st grade girls in her class were making out on the playground, and boys both years offered to pay her to see her body.

    I’d rather my kids be prepared by me than learn sexuality through THAT dysfunction. (And by dysfunction, I’m referring to age and sexual exhibitionism.)

  30. You guys are being gross. My parents never did anything like that. They don’t even kiss. Eww.

  31. My parents never talked about sex, and because I was homeschooled until high school, I missed 7th grade health where they talked about it. I once tried to open a dialogue with my mother by asking her what the f word meant, but she just got a funny look on her face and said it was bad. It was alright though I already knew what it meant, I was about 16. I also looked up all the bad words I heard at school in the dictionary.

  32. Is it weird that I have no idea? I mean, I vaguely remember sex ed in elementary school, but I don’t remember what I knew before that. It’s not like my parents ever took me aside either, as far as I know. Deeply repressed memories, maybe? I guess growing up watching movies rated higher than PG will give you a rough grasp on the basics, because I at least had it figured out by Junior High.

  33. My parents explained it to me when I was about seven. I remember thinking about it for a minute then asking, “So when was the last time you guys had sex?”

  34. RockiesGma says:

    Just want to say parents must wake up. My niece is a nurse who recently helped test and teach middle school kids on STD’s because the school has an epidemic. An Epidemic. Oral herpes from oral sex. Chlamydia. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders. The girls want to be popular, so there you go. The boys see porn on cell phones on the bus before they even get to middle school. If you aren’t teaching as new babies are born in your family, and teaching safety, teaching thoroughly……I guarantee they ARE going to hear about it inaccurately, vulgarly, and disproportionately from their peers. Biology is of God. Teach it as they grow. Be open. Be real. And most of all, be positive. I knew about it all very young from my parents. More details came as I grew older. But they made sure we knew the very way God created us to procreate and to make love with joy and passion. Then, when I heard the vulgar stuff that was often laced with sleazy detail, I was able to walk away, unafraid and discerning — both of which are invaluable to a kid. in turn, we taught our own children as babies came along. They say to give the number of details as their age. But I honestly believe if you wait past 8-9, they’ve already heard the wrong version. So I encourage you young parents to step up to the plate and teach God’s remarkable, incredible biology! And for you shy ones, a fine tonic helps get the words out.

  35. Sharee Hughes says:

    The best thing I ever heard about sex was that it is divinely ordained and the highest expression of love between and man and a woman. It is through sexual intercourse that we become co-creators with God. That is why sex belongs only within a marriage between and man and a woman–because it is so sacred. It’s wrong to teach children that it is dirty and shameful.

  36. I remember my friends telling me about sex when I was around 8 years old. For a while I thought that I must be missing part of the story, but it didn’t occur to me to ask my parents. I’m not sure I wanted to know. When I was 12, I read The Thorn Birds, and I realized that I pretty much had all the information I needed. When it was time for the sex ed unit at school, I wanted my mom to get me out of it (because I could think of few things creepier than the gym teacher talking about sex), but she said, “You have to learn about it sometime,” and I was like, “Are you kidding me with this? You think I don’t *know* about it?” At the time I thought she was leaving it to the school to teach me because she was prudish (which she sort of was), but I found out later that when she’d had the talk with my older sister, my sister had been sort of traumatized (and by “traumatized” I mean “nauseated”), so she figured someone else would do a better job.

    I didn’t know how I was going to tell my kids about sex until one day my daughter, who was in 4th grade at the time, asked me a question one morning over breakfast, and the talk just sort of happened. It was less awkward than I thought it would be. Also, not terribly effective, as she forgot all about it and asked me the same question a couple years later. That talk stuck, though–probably because my daughter was more interested in the answer this time.

    I know lots of parents take their kids aside at a certain age and make a big ceremony of the talk–turn it into a special weekend at the coast or some other happy destination–which I’m sure is sweet and appropriate for their family, but personally I can’t imagine anything so formal. I think about what I would have wanted as a child, and frankly, I don’t think I would have liked would have been my mom ruining my special trip with a sex talk, especially at 8. I was, and retroactively remain, okay with my mom letting me learn it on the streets (and in books), but fortunately my own children have a more open relationship with me. Actually, it is sometimes more open than I would like, but at least I feel confident that my children are comfortable asking me questions of that nature. Interestingly enough, my daughter is still incredibly prudish and hates when the law of chastity is brought up at church or school. To her, that’s something that should be discussed privately–you know, with your mom.

  37. * Not that the law of chastity would be brought up at school, but I meant anything related to sex being brought up at school or church.

  38. I learned about sex from a book I was not supposed to read.

    When I was 7 years old my best friend was an older woman by 2 whole years. She was also the Mormon who first introduced me to the church.

    I think it is fair to say that Linda was a little mischievous. She was practically giddy the day she gave me “the book”. She handed it to me while explaining how her parents had made it very that clear she was NOT to let me read it. So I had to get it back to her first thing in the morning. And I couldn’t tell anyone about it – especially not my parents. That was the deal. I may have been a little mischievous as well, because I seem to recall quite enjoying the naughtiness of our little secret pact.

    I don’t remember many specifics about “the book”. The title was something like “What Every 9 Year Old Should Know” but it may as well have been called “For Chicken Shit Parents of 9 Year Olds” as it was addressed to the child in an informative narrative along the lines of “your parents think you are mature enough to know some things about the facts of life” etc. Oh, and there were diagrams. Pencil sketches if memory serves me. Tastefully informative. And monumentally mind bending. I got little sleep that night.

    The next day I peppered my mom with leading questions. so much so that she attempted to clear things up for me that night after tucking me in to bed. It went down something like this:
    Nae, I think we need to talk about how babies are made.
    Ok
    Well. Ummmm. Ok. You see…… Well. A mommy and a daddy… ahem. Well, when two people love each other….uuhhhh. Well.. Yes. Ummm. You see. Uh, ok. When a mommy and a daddy are ready to make a baby they just love each other.

    Now THIS was fascinating information and I felt relieved and somewhat redeemed. I couldn’t wait to see Linda so I could inform her that HER parents might do that thing, but not mine! My parents just loved each other….

    And I let my mom off the hook big time when she attempted the talk again a few nights later. She began to hymn and haw again so I just said “it’s ok mom. I already know”. She was super relieved. We still laugh about it.

    I had all sorts of high hopes for being a forward thinking and awesome parent with open lines of communication and an easy approachable way. The kind of parent who uses correct terms like penis and vagina without angst and doesn’t have “the talk” so much as an ongoing educational dialogue (which my husband wanted nothing to do with). I have no idea if I succeeded or failed but my kids seem to be fairly well adjusted. Time will tell, i guess.

  39. In 3rd grade, some boys at school were playing with a white balloon on the playground and everyone was laughing in a weird way about it. I was about 8 or 9 and couldn’t figure out why. One guy turned to me and said he was sure that I didn’t know what it was because my parents had never used a rubber before. I was one of 8 kids so it was a logical assumption. I couldn’t figure out what footwear and balloons had to do with each other so I just shrugged my shoulders and left. In the proceeding years and thanks to a YW camp counselor who was VERY open about everything and my friend at church who was still “technically a virgin”, I got an education.

    Fast forward 8 years and my parents decide–yes Emily U, it’s true–that they are going to have a “special FHE” and dismiss the younger kids so they can talk to my 17 yr old brother, me and my 14 yr old sister about the birds and the bees. My mom starts with asking if we have ever wondered where babies come from. We all moan and groan and roll our eyes because they are frankly way too late. I told my husband that I didn’t want our kids to hear the slang words from the schoolyard as their first intro to sex…like both you and I experienced, Kevin. As parents, we have started with our kids when they were very young and we talk often at their level.

    As I was leaving for my honeymoon, my Mom’s sex talk to me was to “do what comes naturally”. My poor husband…..Amazingly, she and my dad congratulated themselves on how much more open about sex they were then their parents were!

  40. I had to chuckle. I was a very young boy, perhaps 7 or 8, when a neighbor boy a couple years older used the same word and told me that my parents do that.

    “They do not! They’re Mormon!”

    I later discovered that they indeed do that. Not sure which was the greater shock: that, or finding out Santa is not real.

    Never had “the talk” with either parent, though I did find a book in the house which enlightened me. Not sure it was left there on purpose, but I eventually learned what I needed to.

  41. all my siblings joke about the “you were smaller than a dot” book. I remember my questions being answered and a more official talk at about 11ish.

    We answer questions as they come-and generally keep it to the question asked…and with a large family questions come often. By age 10 we have a talk to make sure they have the whole story and we haven’t missed anything. we have the book “Growing up” by Brad Wilcox. It is thorough enough to include rape and birth control and some puberty issues.

    I have a few freinds in and out of the church that didn’t learn a thing and thought they were dying when they started their periods…that is just so frightening for a young woman to have to experience that for NO good reason at all.

  42. When I was about eight I had gone to a movie where the handsome couple had danced at a ball. In the next scene we found out that she was pregnant, so I discovered that dancing had something to do with it. A few weeks later my mother and another mother were driving a long way to a primary presidency meeting and I was in the back seat with the other woman’s daughter. They were talking about my great aunt who had died because she became pregnant after being advised against such an event as being life-threatening.

    I asked, how did she have control over the matter, thinking that if dancing were the cause it would be difficult to stop. My young friend immediately said, something like: “well the man gets on top of the woman and …” She was cut of by the shocked exclamations from the front seat. At this point I knew enough until age 12 when I was informed by my friends and simultaneously taught to masturbate, well before the Church had told me anything about it. After that I taught the stake president’s son to masturbate. I would not recommend this.

    The library was a resource. My father gave me a book at 14 but it was way too late.

    I had an interesting opportunity about 15 years ago when I was Blazer leader. I only had one Blazer, a kid with sever ADHD. We practiced compass reading a lot because we could be out and about. At one point he became very agitated about AIDS. I could tell that he knew nothing about sex. He was being raised by his single mother. I took a chance and gave him a long talk about everything. He was absolutely focused. The next Sunday his mother thanked me profusely and I was greatly relieved. Again, it was a rash act which turned out OK.

  43. My parents would not sign my consent form to attend the sex ed classes at school because the school did not “teach morality with the biology” so my parents wanted to do it themselves. Out of a class that included all of the kids I went to church with I sat out in the hall alone with the kid from a bad home that couldn’t find anyone to sign his form for him while everyone else learned the basics.

    The night my parents gave me “the talk” my dad finished up the biology with the morality which consisted of repeated proclamations that sex outside the bonds of marriage was a grievous sin and is never, never, NEVER allowed. Knowing that I was 3 and half years old when my mom met my dad and they got married I asked the obvious question: “So how did I get here then?” Dead silence and stunned faces were followed by much sputtering and back tracking.

    A few years later my dad gave me the talk about masturbation that consisted of telling me what it was and that doing it would result in me getting divorced from my wife at a later time in life. Since I’d already been engaged in the practice for several years I just kept my mouth shut and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be a divorced single man in hell. Fast forward to when I was 16 and this was confirmed on a home teaching visit with my dad to a newly married couple. The couple had had a fight and the wife had locked him out of the house and he had ripped the screen door off trying to get in before leaving and had not been back since. I sat on the couch staring at the ceiling while she cried for an hour telling my dad all the bad things about their marriage, and especially how her husband just wouldn’t stop masturbating to porn.

    These experiences and an early reading of Clan of the Cave Bear taught me all I needed to know.

  44. I got given a book at about 8 and asked afterwards if i had any questions. I remember asking a few and my mum being very uncomfortable answering them. She insisted on sitting in on my sex ed classes at school. Not sure why as we never discussed it. I don’t remember discussing it much at all and I learnt a lot more from my friends.

    My husband and I were determined that it would not be like this for our kids (he got nothing from his). We waited till they appeared ready – between 7 – 8 and had a talk about sex. Always saying they could ask us anything. At about 10 or 11 (9 for the youngest as she started early) they got a second talk about puberty and the changes your body will go through. The family joke is that the oldest was always worried that there would be a third talk.

    We have been fairly open and answer a lot of questions. My oldest (only 13) has had many discussions with me – that she has raised. She knows about oral sex, masturbation, STD’s, homosexuality (this came really early as one of her best friends had gay parents). I was asking her about a recent study about the fact that most kids learn about sex from their friends – I asked who she talks about it most with and she said me. She has related discussions she has had at school when the girls know nothing and she fills them in on the details.

    My husband and I are always kissing in front of the kids. They know we still have sex. We explain it is great – but should only be for during marriage. They need to know it is a healthy and happy part of the parents relationship.

  45. marginalizedmormon says:

    I grew up in the 50s–

    before our family left the intermountain west permanently, we lived in a neighborhood that was populated mostly by people in our ward. We were able to walk to church.

    I was wandering around the neighborhood one day, aged about 8, looking for a friend to play with. One older girl had been friendly to me, and I was walking towards her home. I heard some noise in a shed, and, innocently, I opened it–

    There she was with a boy who was the age of one of my older brothers, and they were very involved.

    The boy yelled at me; the girl looked embarrassed, and I ran. I think I said, “Sorry”–

    I walked around alone for a long time, troubled over it. I never spoke to my parents or siblings about it. Neither of those ‘kids’ ever spoke to me again, but it was happening with 11-13 year olds back in the 50s.

    One of my children many years later, learned troubling things by reading “The Miracle of Forgiveness” and tearfully came to ask some questions. We always thought it ironic that such an iconic book could lead to such angst.

    I tried to do all the ‘right’, age-appropriate things; so did my spouse.

    After I left the intermountain west I never saw anything like that again. Or heard anything like that again, so was my experience influenced by Mormonism. Perhaps.

  46. Anon for This says:

    We’ve talked about it with our kids from an early age, basically answering questions when they have them and filling in other details when the topic comes up naturally (ironically, often while reading the Book of Mormon–harlots, etc.).

    This morning one of our kids told us that he had trouble sleeping last night. Apparently late last night he got out of bed and came down the hall to get one of us. But he didn’t knock on our door because, as he said, he “could tell we were busy.” Ahem. Hey, we practice what we preach.

  47. Steve Smith says:

    The facts of life that I learned relate to church history. I remember being corrected about the reasons for polygamy. I used to think that its purpose was to take care of widowed wives, and only that. Learning that the assertion that JS was married to girls as young as 14 came as a shock to me.

  48. And perhaps, Steve, you’ll receive another shock when, in the next life, you learn that Joseph Smith was not a lecherous man.

  49. One of the earliest ‘talks’ occurred when I was in 2nd grade. I had learned the phrase, “Go screw a cow” from a friend and used it on my mom later that day. She didn’t really offer a lot of clarity. I only remember her saying something like, “That’s very sacred.” The only time my old man tried to talk to me was before a date when I was around 18 years old. He said, “Now I don’t have to talk to you about romance do I?” Of course I said no (while thinking ‘Hell no’).

    My little brother got a little more than I, something to the effect of “You take your thing and put it in her thing and move it around a little bit.” An integral part of the family lore.

    I think the taboo around sex was definitely influenced by Mormonism. Part of it was generational as well.

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