an accidental expert

Today I’m going into town to talk to some college students about sex. I’m no expert (at least no more than anyone else), but, in this case, Willingness to Talk equals Expert.

I actually enjoy speaking on the subject. Sex education is so much more than just sex: it’s about relationships, self-awareness, compassion, biology, ethics, beauty, drive and passion, love, and the meaning of life in general. It doesn’t get much more fun than this!

Actually, I’m not supposed to talk about sex sex, but about sex education from a homeschooler’s perspective. Which pretty much means, I think, how parents teach their children about sex. Because all parents teach their children about sex, whether or not they are intentional about it.

That not a new idea, right?


In preparation for the class, I assembled a few of my most favorite books, including a new one that I pulled off the library shelf a couple weeks ago. While I tapped away at the computer, my younger son curled up beside me and started flipping through the pages. He found the naked cartoon characters most entertaining.

And then when he got up to leave the room, he spied two flies in a love tangle and said, “Ha, two flies on top of each other! They’re fighting!”

“Honey, they’re not fighting. They’re mating.”

His ignorance about our prolific fly population’s mating habits kinda surprised me. Animals and insects are forever humping and bumping right under our noses (think that one rooster and a couple dozen hens we used to have, there is no shame)—I thought it’d be a given for him. But it’s not. It takes a while for kids to pick up the information. Bit and pieces fall into place in different ways and at different times.

In fact, yesterday afternoon when I was actually reading the aforementioned library book to one very interested little boy, he told me that he thought mating had something to do with dying (because of the fly battles?). Which proves my point: you never know what kids are thinking. It is for this very reason parents must give the information straight-up. When it comes to talking about sex, there is no place for beating around the bush. My mantra: say it straight and say it again. And again and again and again.

So anyway, back to this class. In preparation for the discussion, I sent the prof some material to send out to the students ahead of time: this link to my sex talk post, as well as a speech I gave to some high school students a few years back. (Warning: it’s longish. Put your feet up.) I’m eager to hear what these university students think about these issues. Is what I think relevant? Do they know all this stuff already?

How do you feel about children and sex education?

This same time, years previous: no buffer, over the moon, the walk home, roasted vegetables, big businesses read little blogs, nutty therapy, and caramelized onions


  • Margo

    So glad to have specific book recommendations – thank you! We've had frank talks with our children, but I know the books will help.

    As for kids and sex ed, I definitely want the primary sex education to take place at home. My parents were very frank with me and my siblings and that was so helpful!

  • karen

    I have two, but they are Canadian and local to Vancouver. For a very long time, there was a registered nurse named Meg Hickling who taught sexual health in the Vancouver public school system. She approached the subject in a very pragmatic and very humour-filled way, but not at all inappropriately. For example, she taught kids to consider the information "body science" and taught them to respond with the word "interrrrrrestinnnnng" rather than "ewwwwww" and "grosssss"!

    She has trained others in her retirement, but also has written a couple of books: "Boys and Girls and Body Science", a picture book that gives the information to the 2 + set, and a series of books for parents called "Speaking of Sex" that cover what she taught.

    Perhaps the most important idea I read in the latter book suggested that if a parent had a problem speaking with their children about sexual health and sex, they might consider it to be an area that they lack maturity. This really caused me to look hard at myself, and my own funny feelings and realise that they might be exactly that. After all, my mother and father spoke with me not at all about any of it, and when my mom wanted to know about my menstrual cycle, she had my sister ask me, which would not necessarily help me mature in this area in a healthy way.

    The sexual health presenter that my kids had was mentored by Ms. Hickling and she said that the stated goal of the program is to normalise sex in an age where it is everywhere in the extreme but not talked about or comfortable at a personal level. She said the statistics they have collected have shown that kids are waiting longer to engage in sexual activities and are better able to speak up and set limits based on the language and knowledge they have gained.

    I see that Ms. Hickling now offers interviews, a book on adult sexuality and other materials that no doubt are as rock solid as anything else I've seen from her. But I'm also looking forward to checking out your reading material, thanks.

    • Jennifer Jo

      The idea that "problems talking about sex" equals a lack of maturity is new to me…and I think it might be spot on!

      I'm so glad you pointed out this author—I have a feeling that one of her books will soon be laying around our house…

    • Jennifer Jo

      For children: "Where Did I Come From?" and "What's Happening To Me?" Both are by Peter Mayle. The library book is "It's Perfectly Normal: changing bodies, growing up, sex, and sexual health," by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley.

      For tween girls: "The Period Book: everything you don't want to ask (but need to know)" by Karen Gravelle and Jennifer Gravelle.

      For teens: "Dateable: are you? are they?" by Justin Lookadoo and Hayley DiMarco. Also, "The Dirt on Sex," by Justin Lookadoo.

      "Reviving Ophelia," by Mary Pipher, was influential for me when I was working with teen girls. (I sent her a letter and she responded with a handwritten one!)

      Do you have any recommendations for me?

    • Anonymous

      Thank you! Sorry, no recommendations yet……my kiddos are a bit younger than yours and we are just starting the whole "birds & bees" thing 😉
      Love your blog!

  • Aili

    Your little boy has perhaps been influenced by the French. Their euphemism for orgasm is "the little death." Death and orgasm are pretty closely related in the poetry of Shakespeare's time, too. I blame the Blackfriars.


    Good luck with your talk!

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