The need for appropriate and comprehensive sex education has been on my mind ever since reading about young Alfie Patten, the 13-yr-old British boy who thought he'd fathered a child with his 15-yr-old girlfriend. And according to my survey, most of you have had "the talk" with your sons.
But don't stop there. Learning about sex and sexuality is a lifelong process, and boys need support and information at every step along the way.
Start talking when your sons are young and keep the conversation going. Easier said than done, I know. We're taught (appropriately) that sex is a very private, personal thing, and so it's much easier to keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves, rather than speaking frankly with our sons.
Crossing the line from sex being part of our world to possibly being part of their world is a scary thing, but the fact is that sex IS part of their world too. They need to know how their bodies work, what to expect and that sex is more than just a physical act. They need to understand all possible consequences -- emotional, physical, social and spiritual -- in order to make informed decisions.
It's A LOT of responsibility and way too much information to be crammed into one talk. So start talking, now. Just remember that you're talking to boys: Keep your talks short and sweet. Answer questions. Broach the subject while you're doing something together; talking will be easier for both of you if your hands and eyes are on something else.
Respect your sons' temperament and learning preferences as well. Some learn better through books; others, through talks. At the age of 9, my very verbal Son #1 checked out a wonderful book from the library, the American Medical Association's Boy's Guide to Becoming a Teen. He read it, and though he didn't understand a lot of it at the time, it was a wonderful springboard for a talk I will always treasure.
For some other hints -- including 10 bases to cover when talking to boys about sex -- click here.