Recent talk about the virginal status of Olympic athletes really got my attention. At first I was simply concerned by the need for this to be disclosed. I’m all for the open discussion of sexuality but I didn’t feel that open discourse was what was intended. Olympic news coverage seemed to delve into the personal lives of athletes a little too deeply and often more for sensational purposes than to actually inform. I don’t have a problem with anyone’s decision to remain a virgin. I do dislike when this information is shared in order to shame or judge others. It did make me think about my own choices. It also made me think about how to broach the subject with my tween daughter.
My daughter already knows the basics about how the body works and how babies are made. She’s not quite into the double digits age so I haven’t gone into too much detail about sex. I know I have to have deeper discussions fairly soon. Her body is maturing and although puberty is not fully set in yet it could be by the end of the year. Time is going to progress quickly and as a sex positive parent I don’t want find myself talking about certain sex related subjects too late. The irony is that while I write about sex and often talk about sex with other adults, I’m still squeamish talking about sex with my own daughter. This is a condition I will have to work hard to get over soon. I want her to have all the information I was denied at her age. I also want to provide her with the judgment free environment I never had to discuss anything she desires.
I first had to look into the decisions I made in order to figure out how I wanted to deal with the subject of losing one's virginity. I grew up in a very religious household that believed in abstinence until marriage. I actually learned nothing about sex, or the responsibilities that came with it, from my parents. I had to rely solely on 5th grade and the 7th grade sex education classes provided by my school. My mom almost refused to sign the permission slip for the 7th grade sex ed class because she thought it should be taught in the home. When I asked if she knew everything there was to know about birth control, STIs and sexual health, she signed the paper without a word. Sex education only fueled my fears about sex instead of dispelling them. Slides of herpes, syphilis and other terrible afflictions made me terrified. If that was their goal, it was definitely met.
I still held fairly romantic ideas about losing my virginity despite falling in with the alternative crowd and become an arty Goth girl. I wanted it to be special and to be with someone I loved. Basically everything I’d heard in the movies, read in books and saw on after school specials. I had a rather dismal dating life in college and eventual decided on losing my virginity to a friend. I don’t regret that choice. I only regret the waiting and holding on to this fairy tale of the magical first time. Instead I wished I had taken opportunities earlier and had a head start on developing my sexual self. My quandary is do I share this revelation with my daughter. Do I tell her to wait or tell her take the first safe opportunity when it presents itself?
The thought of suggesting she lose her virginity earlier than I did makes a voice in my head yell, “Bad Mommy!” Realistically I’m not going to suggest she have sex as early and often as she can, I just don’t want her to hold onto the idea the perfect moment is going to come along. Sometimes the most enjoyable experiences are far from perfect. I don’t know what the future holds for her but I hope she has a variety of experiences that range from the meaningful to the just plain fun. Choosing when and how to start will be a decision I’d like her to make with a full understanding of her options.
A journey of a thousand miles will begin with that first step. She may chose to take that journey with as little or as many partners as she chooses. I’m still unsure exactly how I will tell her this but it’s something I have to start planning now. Middle school is on the horizon and I need to make sure she is fully prepared for the challenges of high school. The teenage years are hard enough and this decision will not be an easy one for either of us. I will be ready when the time comes.