I Am Not a Baggage Handler
Sex is beauty. Sex is pleasure. Sex is spirit. Sex is energy. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do is take that beauty, pleasure, spirit and energy away from my children.
Unfortunately, sex is also baggage-laden. It is way too easy to ignore or minimize our own sexual baggage and repression and unconsciously share our baggage with our children. I’ve made a commitment to myself that I’m no baggage handler. (And I say that with all due respect to those who handle the all-important, good kind of baggage. When you see mine while I’m on the move, thanks for your caring attention.)
My partner and I have consciously decided to cultivate a sex-positive, as-baggage-free-as-possible atmosphere around sexuality for our boys’ benefit. Was it easy from the second we made the decision? No way.
You have to begin by recognizing when you are being sex-negative in the first place and that takes practice. Becoming aware of subtle sex-negativity and body shaming takes keen attention to your verbal and body language when the subjects come up.
Often as parents we layer an adult perspective on top of innocently curious inquiries about unknowns. For example, (and one I have heard and handled a number of times) “Mama, why does my penis get stiff like that? Now I realize some of you may read that and images of presenting hours of the mechanics of erections and what they are capable of flashes in your brain. That’s the adult version. The kiddo version is much simpler and the question is truly their wonder and curiosity manifesting.
The easiest, most direct route to supporting our kiddos in their development has been allowing ourselves to mentally go to that place of wonder and curiosity with them. Setting aside all of the baggage we continue to carry (and continue to try to jettison) and simply steep ourselves in the amazing things our bodies can do. It will likely cause you to pause in considering your own body, if not reframe completely. It may not convince you that you want to dance naked in the rain, but you can at least understand why your kiddos do.
Cultivating a family culture that supports that wonder, curiosity and connection to pleasure will build a foundation for further discussion as more detailed factual information about bodies, sex and sexuality is necessary. When you have openly answered questions from the time before your kiddos can even remember, their habit to come to you for information will already exist and be firmly ingrained.
As that time when your kiddos’ quest for information exhausts your accurate knowledge, I recommend a series of books by Robie Harris. Her series includes: It’s Not The Stork, It’s So Amazing, It’s Perfectly Normal and Let’s Talk About Sex. Each book is written for different ages. We bought the whole series and have them all on hand for when our kiddos all of a sudden seem like they are ready for the next level.
I encourage you and any adults in your kiddos’ midst to read the books from cover to cover. That way when you read the books together nothing catches you by surprise. That baggage we carry can get heavy when we least expect it.
As you prepare to share the books with your kiddos, be thoughtful and conscious of cultivating that feeling of wonder. Let them hold on to that feeling as long as possible. And perhaps, if we are careful enough in minimizing our own baggage, we can raise our kiddos so that they travel through life with a much lighter load.
Photo by Jasleen Kaur