Before I started writing this story, it hadn’t occurred to me to talk to my daughter about sex.
Of course, during that process, teenage boys tend only to see themselves as the problem and the wider world as something insuperable to tackle.
“Oh, so that’s what they look like,” she said, staring intently at one of the pages. ” I asked, peering over her shoulder at an illustration of the male reproductive system. Turns out my daughter had been learning quite a bit about the facts of life—mispronunciations and all—from a seven-year-old chum with an older sibling. “But what I also hear from parents is ‘I want to be first.’ If you want to be first, you have to make sure you’re first; otherwise kids will get their information and attitudes from other children and the media.” That doesn’t mean marking a date on the calendar for one marathon birds-and-bees session.
Teaching should be an ongoing process in which your child learns over time what she needs to know to develop a healthy attitude toward her body and sexuality, says Hickling.
It’s enough to make most parents scream which is usually the next, equally counterproductive, step.
When I panicked about the sudden disappearance of my until-then chatty elder son, I found solace in Teenagers (Portobello) by David Bainbridge, a zoologist, who argues that the teenage years are not just an “unpleasant hurdle” between charming childhood and adult maturity but a stage to be celebrated, because the adolescent brain is the secret of human success.