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October 27, 2010

Dads' Opinions Wanted

After a long day at work, the Blog Princess hath been known to peruse the vasty store of Instapunditry that accumulates during the workday. During just such a foray this evening, she happened upon this item:

DAUGHTERS SUFFER from sexism against men.

Allow me to stop for just a moment and ask a question of the villainry: if it's objectively wrong (not to mention unreasonable) for feminists to blame pretty much everything that happens in this wicked veil of tears on sexism, is the same true when men play the sexism card?

I just thought I'd ask. Because last time I checked, I thought men and women were supposed to be playing on the same team?

At any rate, my curiosity was aroused so I clicked through only to find (much to my horror!) that apparently there is a war on men! And it is keeping them from discussing sex with their teen-aged daughters who, sad to say, are suffering in unimaginably horrible ways as a result of this Traveshamockery:

The war against men has claimed another victim: their daughters.

In today’s America a man knows that he can be sued for workplace sexual harassment if he looks at a woman in the wrong way, if he makes a sexually suggestive remark, or if he touches her inappropriately.

He also knows that children, especially female children, are strictly off limits. Speak to his daughter in the wrong way and a man can find himself charged with child molestation. Even when the charges are false, it is very, very difficult to restore a reputation tarnished by the suspicion of child abuse.

It isn’t easy being a man in America today. The culture has made men into a threat, into the enemy of women and girls.

Not everywhere, not for everyone, but enough of the time for men to be wary in their dealings with female children.

The attacks on men, the stigmatization of men, the distrust about their motives have created a cultural miasma. If you were a father living in such a culture, would you want to talk about sex with your preteen daughter?

Who among us does not recall the halcyon days when your average Paterfamilias couldn't wait to wade into the angst-ridden conversational minefield that is female adolescent sexuality? Damn those buzz killing Femisandrists for coming between red blooded American Dads and their beautiful and natural desire to... umm... talk ... about... uhhh, sex and relationships.

Sure that the Spousal Unit would join me in my outragey-ness, I hied me down to the man cave Spousal Office to ask the question that was burning a hole in my pea sized brain:

"Babe... did you ever talk to our boys about sex?", I said, batting my eyelashes furiously and attempting to look harmless. A look of consternation briefly flitted across his face, quickly followed by the expression of Benign And Infinite Patience with which The Unit greets all such inquiries.

"No", he said. I may have mentioned from time to time that my beloved is a man of few words.

"Are you quite sure?", I responded?


This was followed, after I failed to go away within a reasonable amount of time, by, "No one talked to me about sex when I was a kid either. I figured it out."

"Huh", I noted with an air of feminine inscrutability. The whole "inscrutability" shtick is rarely successful with him, largely because it's extremely difficult to cloak oneself in an enticing veil of feminine mystery without shutting up for at least a few seconds.

You have to let the anticipation build. You know, give the poor guy time to wonder what you're thinking. I am assured by various women's mags that this is something men do nearly as often as they dream of discussing sex with their teenaged daughters.

On a serious note, in our media and sex drenched culture I can't imagine why any parent would need to discuss the mechanics of sex with a child. I learned most of what I knew about sex from reading and that was back in the 1960s when popular culture was considerably more restrained. My boys came of age in the 90s, and I bought them an excellent set of books (which I read first, in case there was a pop quiz) that covered male and female anatomy, sex, pregnancy, childbirth and birth control. I gave them the books, asked them to read them, and told them afterwards that I'd be happy to discuss any questions or concerns they might have.

They said they were good to go.

When they started showing an interest in girls, I did talk to my sons about relationships: how girls think, how to talk to girls, how girls view relationships and sex, what most girls would interpret various things. They were good talks that gave me a chance to impart the values my husband and I wanted our sons to take on board. We didn't talk just once; this was an ongoing conversation administered in small doses as they ran across (or seemed likely to need to know) various things.

Oddly enough, my Dad talked to me about boys many, many times. But then my Dad changed diapers in the 1950s and 60s. I can't honestly say I believed my father when he told me the boys I dated spent the vast majority of their time wondering what I looked like naked ... or trying to figure out how to get into my knickers. It irritated me that he didn't think I was smart enough to take care of myself.

But those talks - along with the time he spent teaching me to change spark plugs, change oil and air filters, and unstick a stuck butterfly valve - accomplished something vastly more important than educating me about boys and sex. They taught me how to recognize a good man.

Looking back at my dating years, I'm not sure how I avoided the bad apples. I was so naive and trusting that I could easily have been badly hurt or taken advantage of, and yet I never was. I can't help but think my relationship with my father taught me that if a man truly cares about a woman, he won't mind spending time with her (whether or not she's sleeping with him). Fathers have a lot to offer their daughters.

And a good father won't let political correctness or feminism dictate how he raises children of either sex.

Dads: I welcome your comments.

Posted by Cassandra at October 27, 2010 09:27 PM

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I'm a father, though not of a daughter. With that said, what I think the discussion needs to turn on is this assertion:

"Speak to his daughter in the wrong way and a man can find himself charged with child molestation."

If that's right, it's a problem. It's not a problem with/for women or men. It's just a problem.

I'm not sure that it is true, though. Still, the piece turns on that assertion. We need to know whether or not that is correct to know how to proceed.

My father talked to me about sex just once. His advice turned on the importance of not trusting women's assertions about their virginity. It was the most irrelevant possible advice, since at that age I couldn't have cared less about whether a woman was a virgin or not: I just wanted a woman who would love me, period.

The rest was left to me to sort out. I suppose I have done so, more or less. What I'll tell my son will have more to do with his duty to the woman whose love is given to him, than with anything else.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2010 11:12 PM

My mother never spoke of these matters. This was, I think, for the best.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2010 11:17 PM

Speak to his daughter in the wrong way and a man can find himself charged with child molestation.

Lots of things *can* happen. The question is not whether they can (I could be hit by a Mack truck every time I get behind the wheel of a car), but how likely they are to happen. I have some control over my own safety when I drive.

Parents of either sex can be accused of child abuse when they discipline a child. I know a mother who was accused of child abuse on no real evidence. It was investigated but eventually the fact that there was no evidence became a problem. I know a Dad who had CPS called on him after his son drew a picture of men in uniform shooting machine guns (his Dad was a Marine who worked for the rifle range). Eventually the lack of evidence became a problem.

I know many, many more cases where there was real credible evidence of actual abuse. And yet the child was left in the home with the parent over and over and over again.

It's hard for me to imagine a credible accusation of child abuse stemming from talking to your daughter about boys, or even sex (unless of course you're showing her hard core porn, which I'm fairly certain shouldn't fly even in this uber enlighted age of wonderfulness).

Posted by: Cassandra at October 27, 2010 11:37 PM

My mother never spoke of these matters. This was, I think, for the best.

I didn't talk much about the mechanics with my sons.

I did talk to them about the fact that girls tend to assume that having sex means the boy loves them or considers himself in a relationship. And I talked to them about the consequences of getting a girl pregnant, both for her and for him.

I think those are very important topics for a parent to discuss with a child.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 27, 2010 11:41 PM

OK. Then, though, we need to establish whether or not the probability of being charged/arrested/hassled is higher than some minimum acceptable level. To use your example, is it more likely that I'll be hit by a truck? If so, maybe it's not a big deal.

The assertion suggests that the probability is likely enough to be a serious consideration. As I said before, I'm not sure that is true. It's the question we'd need answered, though, to know how seriously to take the claims made in the rest of his piece.

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2010 11:41 PM

I didn't talk much about the mechanics with my sons. I did talk to them about the fact that girls tend to assume...

My mother didn't talk to me about anything related to these matters. Perhaps it would have been good to know what and how girls think; my father's remarks on the subject, however, were that this was impossible for a man. He once responded to my assertion that I understood why my sister was doing something by saying that I would never understand my sister, even though we were raised together and lived most of our lives together, because she was a woman. That fact alone was adequate to serve as a permanent wedge, an uncrossable divide.

Things worked out well. I was guarded by the Lady of Fate, who loves me, as I do her. Is that enough, to love and be loved in return? Is understanding possible, or was my father right?

Posted by: Grim at October 27, 2010 11:52 PM

I certainly never talked to my father about boys or sex. I didn't talk to my mom about those topics, either. Closest I ever came to that was Mom's comment to me shortly before I went off to college, admonishing me to not let some guy "sweep me off my feet and into bed". My thoughts were "do you know me?". If she really did, I don't think she would have thought she needed to say that to me.

As far as the "mechanics" of sex, I had my first intro to "sex ed" in I think 6th grade. They separated the girls and the boys for that (DoDDS school, early 80s). I guess that was good timing, since that's when girls can start having their periods. Got more sex ed in Home Ec class (of all places...) my freshman year of HS. Everything else I've picked up on the subject has not come from either of my parents...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 28, 2010 01:29 AM

I thought the article spun things a bit more toward the idea that girls wanted to talk about specifically sex with their dads, but that's not what the study seemed to say.

I think that a girl who has a good relationship with her dad might appreciate the chance to say, "Hey, what does it mean when a boy says/does _____?" Or, "Do boys really care about ______"

There were certainly times in my teenage years and young adulthood that I would've benefited from the male perspective I never had after my father's death. Then again, that absence may have allowed me to develop rose-colored glasses on the topic of father-daughter relationships...

I definitely agree that a warm and open relationship between father and daughter plays a very important role in helping her recognize a good young man when she meets one.

Posted by: FbL at October 28, 2010 02:12 AM

Is understanding possible, or was my father right?

I think that depends on what you mean by understanding. Do I completely understand my husband (in the sense of knowing absolutely how he feels or what he thinks every minute of the day)? Of course not, and frankly I don't want to.

But I understand him a hell of a lot better than I used to. There are things he did 30 years ago that I not only did not understand, but thought were unreasonable or inconsiderate (because I simply couldn't imagine doing those things myself, not because I wanted to think the worst of him). I literally couldn't think of a single good reason to do them.

Now that I know him better, though, I not only understand why he does them from time to time, but even understand a bit of how he's feeling.

There are things I do that my husband used to think I was doing on purpose (to irritate him). I think he truly does understand now that we're just different in some ways.

So yes, I think understanding is possible and I think it's important to *try* to understand, even if it's difficult. Personally I've always hated it when men say women are impossible to understand. That implies one of two things: either we're completely irrational (because we don't think like men, of course) or they just don't care to put the effort into it.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2010 08:01 AM

...we need to establish whether or not the probability of being charged/arrested/hassled is higher than some minimum acceptable level. To use your example, is it more likely that I'll be hit by a truck? If so, maybe it's not a big deal.

Here's where an informal poll might be useful, though of course not dispositive.

I know many folks who have gotten into traffic accidents (sometimes horrific ones) and yet they have not stopped driving.

As I mentioned last night, I know two parents (one of each sex) who were accused of abuse. I know of NO parents who were convicted, or even formally charged.

My husband, as a military commander, was once accused of racial/sexual discrimination. Again, there was an investigation, he was cleared, and went on to be promoted.

Every activity has risks. How we conduct ourselves can worsen or mitigate those risks but never completely eliminate them. I think (particularly on forums where large numbers of unhappily divorced men gather to discuss the numerous and diverse ways in which women are ruining western civilization) that sometimes too much weight is given to sensational stories in the news on the theory that if bad things happen at all, they must be happening everywhere and with untoward frequency.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2010 08:12 AM

" (which I read first, in case there was a pop quiz)"

Oh, you're just gonna leave that dangling out there, huh?
*picks up, then puts down 10' pole*

Posted by: DL Sly at October 28, 2010 08:48 AM


I thought y'all would like that one :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2010 08:53 AM

Yes I have daughters. No I don't talk to them about sex. I'd as soon put out my eyes with a spork.

Yes I have spoken about girls to my sons. "Girls are weird," I've explained, "just how weird you'll have to find out on your own. But know this, son(s), girls are the best thing ever invented that doesn't go fast. But that's a good thing, too. Ask your mother why. And drive safely."

Posted by: spd rdr at October 28, 2010 09:28 AM

No kids, so I can't speak to that. And I think Grim has the serious part of the discussion well handled (suffice to say, I disagree with him in none of the particulars). But I do have funny stories.

My own mother tried to have the sex talk with me at the tender age of 17. I explained that all the mechanics were covered in sex ed (they weren't actually, but it's not like I knew any better), and that the relationship part of the discussion had been handled by my older sister when she went off to college. So my mother could save herself and me a small measure of embarrassment by just letting the conversation die right there. She nodded and gave me a grave, "well, let me know if you have any questions."

The second part also happens to involve my mother. She tells it that she learned about the birds and the bees in freshman Biology in college and her friend sitting next to her saw her shock and asked her, "you mean you've never heard any of this before?" She asserts she had not. BUT (and this is the part really relevant to the conversation), her father did, in fact, give her the birds and bees talk the day before her wedding to my father (in 1962). He took her on a long drive, and the conversation was (to the best of my mother's recollection) as follows:

"I wanted to talk to you about love."
*long pause*
"Love isn't what you have with Alfred [my father]."
*longer pause*
"It's not this hot passionate thing."
*shorter pause*
"It's like what your mother and I have."
*VERY long pause*
"I'm used to her."

And with that he said not another word on the topic. Oh, it may be relevant that my mother's dad was born in the 1890's.

Posted by: MikeD at October 28, 2010 10:02 AM

Well, given that airlines won't even sit unaccompanied minors next to a man that would make me very hesitant to talk about sex with *your* daughter.

With my own, however, the conversation will probably be centered not around sex, per se, but around the shotgun underneath my bed and what it might get used for. :-)

But then again, my daughter is all of 5 weeks old so maybe I'm not the best person to ask.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at October 28, 2010 10:21 AM

Yes I have daughters. No I don't talk to them about sex. I'd as soon put out my eyes with a spork.

I thought a lot about whether I ought to talk to my sons about it. I really had no idea whether their father had said anything to them or not at the time.

In the end, two things inclined me to do it:

1. Remembering what a jackwagon I was as a teen. I bought into 60s counterculture big time, though it completely contradicted the way I'd been raised. But teens are naturally rebellious and generally think their parents are complete morons.

2. My sense that the world my sons grew up in was - if anything - even LESS supportive of my values than the world I grew up in had been of my parents' values.

To my mind, most of parenting when you have teens is a series of gentle course corrections. You no longer control their environment, nor can you realistically dictate their actions. They're out in the world.

I do think it's a good thing for parents to remind teens of their values because every cell in their bodies is pulling them in the opposite direction. The times my parents had the most influence over me were the times when they treated me as a rational being rather than lecturing or scolding me.

I often felt my kids weren't listening to anything I said, but once they grew up and left home I was amazed to hear the things I'd said to them coming out of their mouths when they described problems with co-workers or friends. So I think kids do listen.

It's just that we have very little control over what they will decide to do with what we teach them.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2010 10:22 AM

"I did talk to my sons about relationships: how girls think, how to talk to girls, how girls view relationships and sex, what most girls would interpret various things."

Write those up and publish them please! As a 54 year old divorced father of a 16 year old daughter, 14 year old son, and 11 year old twin boys, I'd love to have the insight.

Posted by: ruralcounsel at October 28, 2010 10:46 AM

Most of my views on this have already been said, so I'll not spend much bandwidth on them. I'll waste bandwidth on a couple of side issues, and expand on one point already made.

Grim asked whether it was possible to understand women, and Cassandra said yes. To which I add, "what she said." Open, successful communication is possible with anyone. Period. It's nothing more straightforward (and difficult) than paying attention to the other person and learning that person's language--a matter of learning the common referents and proceeding from there. That the structure of the language may be impacted by differences of biology is not materially different than the structure of language being impacted by differences in histories or of referents.

As to raising my daughter, she came of age at around two, when she announced that she didn't need her mother or me to read her a bedtime story, anymore; she could read to herself just fine, thankyouverymuch. And the rest of that coming of age was when I responded that maybe I still needed the bedtime story. So she read the stories to her mother and me. After that, there was nothing about which we did not talk, and no subject that she wasn't willing to raise herself. Indeed, talks about sex and relationships were generally initiated by her, as I was uncomfortable about such things--she's my daughter ferchrissake.

The other side issue is a high school friend who was the son of a single mother, his father having died many years earlier. He always was a little soft around the edges, a little sensitive to others' feelings, like real men of our age were not. And with a sensitivity like that of a lot of sons our age who had both parents, but we were too self-centered to recognize that. We just wrote off this to his being raised by his momma and not by his father. Until he drowned in our high school's swimming pool one gym class. The drill was, essentially, to swim as far as you can under water before you have to come up for air. He was absolutely determined not to do poorly, so he made three laps (which put him near the top of our pack) before he drowned. After we fished him out and he came to (he said that if you have to die, drowning is the way to go--it's very calm and peaceful), we realized that this soft around the edges young man had cold steel in his heart and spine. He probably would have benefited from having a father around, but in his case, that would have been more convenience and breadth of experience, rather than necessity.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 28, 2010 10:49 AM

I'd be happy to, though I may not remember exactly what I told my boys back then :)

Posted by: Cassandra at October 28, 2010 10:49 AM

I have two step-sons, and I'm about as subtle as a kick in the head from a mule. I just wade right in and give it to them. They've both got girlfriends who I have also had conversations with.

The key for me was that by being blunt, and speaking to them as adults I got honest responses and assurances that they had the information and resources they needed. Though the kids might not be engaging in behavior I personally care for, I much prefer that their safety and futures be secure.

I have always figured that with a teenage pregnancy we are way beyond the embarrassment factor.

Posted by: Allen at October 28, 2010 03:51 PM

Dad said nothing about it. Mom gave me a few books. Watched the animals on the farm. Sex ed in sex-segregated gym classes. O.K. Life was simpler then, in many ways.

Not a dad, so no conversations with children. There have been conversations with a few nieces, nephews, and a few of the kids in the neighborhood (why their parents would send ... kids told me they'd been sent, which still leaves the question. Oh, n&n talked to kids.)

Briefly, sex is very good, very risky, and very dangerous (details omitted, you folk know those.) Best to go very slow so you don't make serious mistakes. For guys: Listen to her; stop means stop and no means no, they're not challenges to that you need to immediately overcome. Back off and talk, you'll get a second chance. You'll get further, and have a much better reputation, and more chances with both her and her friends, if she's saying "Yes!" before, and there will be far fewer tears afterward. For girls (who seem to come equipped with the above built in) if he's not listening to stop and no, LEAVE, and tell your friends. If he doesn't want you to leave, sometimes you just have to kick him in the balls and run.

Some abusers are caught, most are not. :( Some of those caught are not abusers :((

I should put in something about 14-y-o who secretly pretend to be 18 and then publicly pretend to be 21, I suppose, but I don't. This is probably more likely these days.

Posted by: htom at October 28, 2010 05:27 PM

in our media and sex drenched culture I can't imagine why any parent would need to discuss the mechanics of sex with a child.

Maybe I'm a prude (and definitely not a dad, lol!), but we've tried to raise our kids with as little as possible exposure to those aspects of media. Is that really where we want our tween kids to get their information about how things work in male/female physical relationships? Parents of 9 - 12 year olds should still have a considerable amount of control of what their children watch.

I also find it confusing that parents will potty train, but are willing to abdicate discussions of sexual biology to schools and other places that may be unlikely to pair the discussion with consideration of moral/ethical implications. (Though in our current district, I thought the curriculum was well written and would not have objected if it had been presented in a single-gender context. I would have been quite content to simply add in the moral/ethical part).

I grew up with a very close relationship with my dad, and while he didn't get into mechanics, he was very up front about how men thought and why I ought to be careful about how I presented myself. I have no doubt that if I'd gone to him with questions, he would have given me a careful, factual answer. I would never have dared to raise questions with my mom because she would have assumed all kinds of things! Honestly, I wish I would have felt the freedom to talk to them about those things.

We've pretty much agreed that I will have "the talk" with our girls - it's just more comfortable, and hubbie will talk to the boys. But were our girls to come to him with questions, he would answer them honestly and simply.

As our oldest is now 12, we've already covered most ground with the biological realities, but in small conversations over the past 2 years - the discussion has been intentionally engaged using windows such as the pregnancies/births of little brothers, and her own developing body.

There are many things I wish she didn't have to know so young, but the reality of the world is that the very large majority of her peers either do (or will soon) know everything about sex while knowing nothing at all, thanks to said cultural hyper-sexualization. And neither do I want her to hear those things from a source which will not provide a moral framework for stewarding them well.

Posted by: Lyana at October 28, 2010 05:57 PM

"....And drive safely." - spd rdr

Like father, like son? Be afraid, be vewy, vewy afwaid.:)

But unseriously, I have sorta talked to my older son (16) about these matters. I am circumspect because he will think for himself, and I will lead him to an idea and let him think he discovered it on his own (when I am on my game as tThe Dad, which is not often). His Mother (Peace be upon Her!) tends to lecture more, and I can see the rebellion building as she plows on. Danger!!!

My 13 year old is naturally more rebellious and resistant. He already KNOWS EVERYTHING (heh), so I usually don't discuss too much with him unless it is couched in terms of playing football (his favorite sport). I more like order him to do things like "pull up your pants", "mow the lawn", "feed the dog"....stuff like that.

YAG, your 5 week old daughter is at the perfect age to discuss these matters. She won't talk back too much. She won't remember much either.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at October 28, 2010 05:59 PM

My mother never talked with me about sex, birds and bees, relationships or much of anything as she was frequently ill and not a very hands on parent. The one phrase I remember was "if you can't be good, be careful." But no details given as to how...

My dad, tho often away on business, talked to me by the hour about history, politics, and "Men the Beasts" (with a twinkle in his eye". He would tell me stories from his own youth, and tho he had in fact fallen romantically in love with my mom in about five minutes, and never out of it, used to intone "Men Are Only Interested in One THing." He mostly concentrated on telling me to shut up, hide my brains, listen to the guy, flatter the fragile male ego, as he considered me too much of a tomboy and too opinionated. He was afraid that apart from my being a good dancer (like him) and okay looking, I was liable to end up an old maid because I was not sweet and demure enough. He would constantly talk to my sister and I about influential women in history (mostly famous men's wives and mistresses and how they had wielded influence by getting the men to do things. I didn't much like this.

He never said one word about the mechanics of sex. And he definitely had the attitude from his college days in the 50s that young men slept with social inferiors and married women who were more restrained later on. So he was appalled that my sister moved in with her boyfriend, and relieved that I seemed to have a more conventional lifestyle.

What I do remember, tho, is that he had a relationship with me, and valued me, and spent time with me, and was chivalrous even when we disagreed. I think that that was a factor in my not marrying until I found a man who was also conservative, chivalrous and who valued me, obnoxious opinions and all. Much is made in the media about how vital fathers are to boys, and to the damage done to boys raised by mothers choosing to have kids without a husband. This is obviously true as far as discipline and positive male role models go. But a father is also a girl's first teacher about what she should either hope for and look for in a husband or try to avoid (if she is unlucky enough to have a cruel father). Girls with abusive fathers, often have a hard time not falling into awful romantic relationships.

I have to say that if either of my parents had tried to talk to me about sex, I would have thought EUUW! My own kids probably feel the same. I have never had "the talk" with any of them, but what I have done over the years, especially during those endless suburban car rides to and from school and sports and activities is to tell them stories about the news or troubled kids I used to work with or stories in the paper. I am pretty blunt, but try to use humor. I worked with very young pregnant teenagers in NYC at one point, and also with kids who had run away from home and were acting out a lot (drugs, fights, etc.) and kids who had been abused.

With my son, I don't talk physical details, and have left that to his dad (who is easily embarrassed, so I have to kick him!).

My husband is less of a talker about relationships than my dad was. He is apt to deliver Terrible Warnings like those that used to be given to Sailors ABout to GO on Leave than ones about getting your heart broken..

So I talk to my son about is how girls' feel. I also talk about that "No means No" stuff, and the stuff like how some girls lie (but I don't let him read Doctor Helen's commenters or he would never want to go out with a girl ever), and the creepy things like STDs, and how a wild fling with a bimbo may be very exciting but child support is forever.

My son is very pro-life, so I have been pretty ferocious about how in that case, certain things follow...

I think my husband has only talked to the girls in general, terrible warning terms about the perils of sex. Not so much reputation as possible pregnancy derailing education, STDs, AIDs, etc.

I don't think either of us has said anything positive about it...Perhaps because the culture is so saturated with it that one feels as if one is just trying to remind young people that other things matter too...

Posted by: retriever at October 28, 2010 10:03 PM

Totally off-topic, memories stirred by retriever.

:rummages in closet of 1967 air tapes:

Here's one!

:fade up into to the closing thirty seconds of Woody Herman's Swinging Herd playing "My Favorite Things", which fades down for:

That's the show for today, folks. Dane Errickson for WMSN 830, ABC News at 55 is next. 47 degrees outside, low tonight 40. Remember, if you can't be good, be very careful!

:music fades up, last beat falls and:

:ABC Radio News sting plays:

Inside the jazz show, I was kinda laid back about timing, but I loved hitting that sting with the back timed Woody Herman (the album is "My Kind of Broadway" and it's one of his best, now available on CD.)

Posted by: htom at October 28, 2010 11:23 PM

I also find it confusing that parents will potty train, but are willing to abdicate discussions of sexual biology to schools and other places that may be unlikely to pair the discussion with consideration of moral/ethical implications.

I agree with Lyana on this—there’s no question that your kid will hear things about sex and relationships from friends and the media. The friends will be as ill-informed as your kid, or worse, and the media will actively lie to them (having sex is the only thing that will make you cool!). You want those voices to be the only voices they hear on the subject?

My perspective is framed by two things. First, my own dad started talking to me like I was a friend of his when I was about 17, and frankly, it made me as uncomfortable as all hell. I mean, I might comment that a girl had nice legs, and my best friend might similarly comment, but when your dad says it to you like it’s no big deal, it was just...weird. And then, when he gave me “the Talk” before my wedding night (which I did not need), most of what he told me was more accurately characterized as “this is how your mother is” rather than “this is what sex is”. And since my wife is very, very, very different from my mother (thank the Lord), this was sad and disturbing all at the same time.

Second, my wife’s dad died when she was 17, and while she never had any talks with him about sex, and likely would not have, even if he’d lived, she is certain that she’d never have dated some of the boys she dated, and never done some of the things she’d done if he’d still been around. I think that says something important about the role a loving and involved father can make in a daughter’s life, even if there is nothing expressly said about certain topics.

Of course, my oldest daughter is 7, so maybe all this will go out the window in a few years, but I’d planned on leaving the biology, so to speak, to my wife, and addressing the many lies that boys will tell her, and how to spot them. My greatest fear is that she’ll fall for someone like me (or rather, like I was at those ages).

Posted by: Linus at October 29, 2010 02:22 AM

I suppose I always looked at the whole sex ed thing as having two separate parts: the biology part and the values part.

I figured they'd pick up the biology part on their own, since everywhere we look these days there are articles on every imaginable body part. I got them some very good books just because we always had reference materials in our home and biology is a set of facts like anything else.

The values part is what I didn't trust them to pick up on their own, so that's what I focused on. And though I've never believed one can transplant experience to ones' children (mostly they have to learn on their own), it never hurts to tell them the important things you've learned.

They may pay attention or they may not. But if you can plant a little seed, it might help them make better decisions.

Posted by: Cassandra at October 29, 2010 04:16 AM

I picked up the basics from the biology and physiology textbooks laying around the house. ("oh. OK. That looks silly.") I don't really recall getting "the talk," but then I'd already figured out that there were guys to avoid like the plague and guys you could hang out with. Although I suspect my father was secretly pleased when I went to a women's college.

My brother did approach me once about the girl's side of the physiology. I told him and his response was "geeez! What a drag. Ick!"

Posted by: LittleRed1 at October 29, 2010 02:13 PM

"But if you can plant a little seed...."

Ummm, I thought the idea was getting them to not *plant a little seed*.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 29, 2010 02:44 PM

Well, to chime in... ranch kid here.

Mom explained the biology-- from the "that bull and cow are making babies" and "see those two cows? That means that the bottom one is ready to make babies" (elaborate explanation about pheromones and hormones and vestigial traits that went over our head for years) to "Well, for the optimum fertilization rate we need about one bull for each twenty cows; a bull that with a genetic tendency for calves over 85 pounds we wouldn't use with heifers, anyways--" type discussions. (Also C-sections.)

Dad took care of dealing with when things go wrong, like the nest of kittens that was so inbred that they were born paralyzed.
(it was really awful; enough like normal kittens that it hit you, but...they couldn't even try to eat, all they could do was mew without moving their heads or anything. Normal newborn kittens wiggle and...ugh, creeping myself out. Dad's one of the most gentle folks I know-- I can't count the orphaned animals we've raised-- but he's strong enough to do what must be done, and I don't know how I'll convey that.)

Nothing like realizing on a gut level that reproduction can go horrifically wrong to instill a respect for the process. I have a feeling Kit's lessons are going to involve a LOT of STD ed. It's well established that if you say something like "steroids will make you uberpowerful and have big muscles, but will make your body act like a woman's if you don't keep taking more and more" kids only hear to the uberpowerful part.

Posted by: Foxfier at October 30, 2010 03:00 AM

Foxfier -- you conveyed it very well. The world needs many more Dads like yours.

Posted by: htom at October 30, 2010 09:15 AM

I grew up around animals. Lots of them. My earliest recollection of the mating ritual was when I was laying in the pasture next to the barn engaged in one of my favorite pastimes of pulling the wings and legs off a grasshopper and putting it on an ant bed when my Papa and Uncle brought out our stud to mount a mare in the paddock. I got the talk about mares in heat and natural reproduction. About the biggest thing I took away from that was I was highly inadequate in the male package department so I doubted if I'd ever mount anything. Ever! :-o

I had the biology pretty much figured out by the time I was 6. Heh! My Mama spoke to me on a fairly regular basis about young ladies' feelings and the way I should be as a man. Both of my parents drilled into my very being that a gentleman NEVER EVER speaks about his relationships and physical intimacy with anyone. I heard that a thousand times if I heard it once and it became ingrained not only in my conscience but in my psyche as well. Even though I may have been a bayou rat from the swamps I was raised to believe there was a higher sanctity in regard to the interaction between a man and a woman that should always remain strictly between them and them only.

My own sons had the biology figured out on their own as well but I drilled them with regard to what constitutes a gentleman's duty to a lady the same as was drilled into me. They learned that if a young lady endowed them with the most sacred part of herself they should treat that act with respect and it should be their duty to protect it. It is simply a matter of honor. Thankfully they actually paid attention those times and *gasp* took to heart the lessons.

My daughter and I have had numerous discussions on boys, love, respect, and what guys want. Of course she has a great role model in her Mom and that has helped tremendously. She's grown up watching the way I treat her Mom and has had a stable two parent household to learn from. She's dated but until recently, in her early 20s, hadn't been serious with any one boy. She took her lessons to heart and learned a great deal from watching her three older brothers.

All in all my Lovely Bride and I have been extremely lucky in regard to how our children understood their roles in relationships. Very lucky indeed! :-)

Posted by: JHD at October 30, 2010 02:19 PM