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{Let’s Talk About Sex} How A Single Mom Talks To Her Son About Sex


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When I close my eyes and think of my man taking me in his arms and passionately kissing me, I imagine us in a movie where the camera pans away to the beautiful star-filled sky and the time lapses and we see the bright early morning sunrise illuminating the earth.  Sounds sweet and cheesy, right?

Yeah, well, it’s all roses and romance until this same magical image involves my 14-year-old son and some girl wanting him to make her feel like a woman.  I gasp and my mind goes blind from the thought.

Teen sex is only mildly cute and humorous when scripted in the movies. At the risk of dating myself, I think back to Cooley High, when a fight breaks out at a “make out party.” Or any 80’s movie where Molly Ringwald somehow becomes the must- have girl and always finds the conviction to save herself until the time is right.  These movies set up us parents—and especially single moms—to fail. Because they delude us into thinking our teenage kids are automatically going to know to say “no,” or something comical is going to happen to stop them from doing the do.

Only in the movies, folks.

The truth is, talking to kids about sex has to happen from the moment they can understand the words coming out of our mouths. When my son was a toddler and began to talk, the foundation for addressing sex was laid. We never used baby names like “Willy” or “Wee-wee” for his sexual organs; he knew from the start that what he has is a penis and nobody was to touch it.  My son was instructed to let me know right away should anyone ever make him feel uncomfortable or touch him where his swim trunks would cover.

Keeping my son safe from child molesters was both easy and difficult. It was easy in the sense that he was open to hearing me, and was able to comprehend my instructions.  Talk about his penis and protecting himself was met with a wide-eyed innocence.  There was no cringing.  No wishing Mom would stop talking. But protecting my son also was very difficult because as a single parent, my son fit the profile that child molesters looks for:  a child with a single parent who works, who has no dad in the home, and is eager for male attention.

To protect my son, I had to keep a tight circle around him. I didn’t allow the local soccer or basketball coaches to spend unsupervised time with him.  The men around my son were limited to his grand-father, my best friend’s husband, and his godfather.

These days were easy.

Life changed when my son turned seven.  He was a “man,” and no longer willing to use the women’s restroom. I recognized pretty quickly that our talks needed to go deeper. My son was armed with a new set of rules to use a public restroom. At the top of that rules list were, “you must use stalls” and “under no circumstances are you to speak to anyone in the restroom.” While he handled his business, I transformed myself into the Mama Bear standing outside the men’s room, glaring at innocent gentlemen just trying to use the john. I was quick to open the men’s room door and call for my son until he answered, too.  Yes, I looked crazy.  Whatever.  Call me looney—call my son safe.

And then it happened.  The moment I prayed would take its time showing up in our home reared its weird, awkward head: Puberty!

I swear, it’s like a psychological parasite invades your home.  It hit and before I knew it, my baby boy was noticing girls and, worse, they were noticing him.  Now, instead of spending 10 minutes in the bathroom pretending he was taking a shower, he was spending 20 minutes in the bathroom pretending to take a shower.

I always thought that when the day came for my son to have “The Talk,” his big Birds & Bees moment would come from a man. I knew it would not be his father. But I had hoped his godfather grandfather would be up for it.  And maybe had I asked them directly they would’ve complied.  All I know is that when it was time, the burden fell directly on my shoulders. And it was… different.

He was still “son” and I was still “Mom,” but a line had been drawn. The dynamics had changed. I didn’t have a man to turn to, but I did have my Maya Angelou books, one in which the celebrated poet and author detailed how she carried herself when her son began to mature. Like her, I made a point to cover myself appropriately when walking around the house.  My son would do the same when it came time for changing clothes or using the restroom. We were no longer just “mom” and “son.” We were now “male” and “female.”

And now when I speak about sex, he cringes.  He looks like he is literally trying to physically transport himself to anywhere in the world where I am not. His “I know Mom” has changed. He “knows” not from our talks, but from the junk disguised as wisdom from his friends.

We still talk, though. We talked a lot when a female much older than my son began to show him attention typically reserved for pay-per-view cable.  She inspired me to discuss STDs. Which by the way, never again will I YouTube STDs. The images of herpes in the eye, which all my life I never knew possible, had my face instantly contorted into something unrecognizable. My son? He did a Looney Toons mad dash down the hall. All that was missing was the body-shaped hole in the wall he ran through.

Still there was no turning back. We discussed:

  • Abstinence:  Wait until married, or at least an adult.
  • Condoms:  If the “abstinence” plea is ignored, then always, always, always wear condoms.  The body is a vessel that must be protected.
  • STDs: We talked about how to tell which girls would carry STDs, stressing the point that there is no way to know.  So protect, protect, protect!
  • Oral Sex:  Of all the talks we’ve had, oral sex is the one most awkward.  Matter of fact, I never explained exactly what it is.  My son made it very clear that he knew exactly what it was, as if to beg me to not say another syllable. But I will. You can bet on it.

There came a point when these talks would make my son so uncomfortable, that we would have the discussions while riding in the car together.  He still tried to summons Scottie to beam him up, but he was trapped in the car with me—Mom.  He had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

A year ago, I handed my son an excellent book called Sex, Puberty, and All That Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up, by Jacqui Bailey. Best $13 dollars I ever spent.  This book covers anything and everything regarding young adults and sex and intimacy.  I used it as a springboard to talk to my son about sex, so much so that one day when I started the conversation, he urgently interrupted me and said, “Mom, if I promise to read the book, can you promise to not talk about sex?”

I agreed. Fingers crossed, of course.


Michelle Bond is a writer. A mother. A Flower Child. All of these things… not necessarily in that order. She’s written for Today’s Black Woman and regional publications. Visit her at CoffeeBreakDMV.

This post is part of Planned Parenthood’s Let’s Talk campaign, a month-long online conversation designed to help and encourage parents to talk to their kids about sex and relationships. Stay tuned for more insightful Let’s Talk content here on MyBrownBaby and on some of your favorite sites around the web.

Also, check out these incredible resources:

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