What My Mom Taught Me About Media, Monday, May 6

I’m participating in the Generation Fabulous blog hop today, in which several members of this group of women are writing about things our mother taught us in honor of Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. At the bottom of this post is a link where you can check out the other blogs. Please click on it and check them out. There’s some great stuff there.

When I think of the many, many things my mother taught me – and she truly was my first teacher, best teacher – I always think of sex. (She’s going to hate this, I just know she’s going to hate this.) But seriously, I am one of the very few people my age I know who doesn’t have any hang-ups about sex and sexual activity largely because my mother handled my sex education so very beautifully. When you think about it, our kids’ sexual education is one of the very toughest parts of parenting (and the older you are, the more difficult it was) and my mom aced it.

Sex was always something that was private, but it was also very good and lifegiving and deserved respect. Mom was frank and clinical without being cold and never embarrassed to have those “all important” conversations and always had a solid answer for any of my questions. As a consequence, my first period was no big deal. It was a relative breeze talking to my kid about it. And most important of all, while I was curious as a teen, I never felt the need to engage in sex before I was ready. Given what I hear from most of my peers and what I read in parenting magazines, I have come to appreciate that particular lesson like none other, because it was so incredibly rare.

So what does this have to do with media? Actually, a lot. First up, it’s a reminder of just how powerful and protective it is for our children to simply be honest, frank and age appropriate. Secondly, there was an additional subset to the general sex lesson – namely, Mom said that I should wait until I’d had good sex before starting to read all the graphic, sexy novels that were bursting onto the scene during my adolescence. The idea was that sex in fiction is pretty fictional and that it was better to have a solid grasp on what it was really all about before I tried to compare my sex life to what I was reading or seeing.

Granted, that’s next to impossible to do these days. Sort of. But we, as parents, can still remind our kids that what they see on TV and films and read in books is not how it really works, especially between two people who really love each other. And that in a committed relationship, sex is important, but not the end-all, be-all. Bad sex is more a symptom of other problems than it is the fault of the people involved.

Which is one of many reasons why I get really fed up with some of they hyper-sexualized, not to mention done to death, jokes about sex on most comedies. It’s not fair to our kids, nor is it fair to us to demean something that is about building intimacy with the one person you’re going to be with, hopefully, until death do you part, about something that is how life begins. I’m not saying sex can’t be funny, but the way it is so often presented is demeaning, and that is terribly, terribly sad.

And that’s yet another reason why I so very, very much appreciate the way my mother handled my sex education. Maybe if more parents had handled their kids’ sex education that way, our media wouldn’t be so obsessed with it. Maybe we’d have that lovely balance somewhere between pretending sex doesn’t exist and making sure it’s constantly in our faces.

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9 Responses to What My Mom Taught Me About Media, Monday, May 6

  1. Ginger Kay says:

    What an important (and unexpected) topic. I really wanted to be like you and your mom, but I know I wasn’t. I was honest, but my discomfort was obvious.

    • Anne Louise Bannon says:

      You probably aced me in another area of life. We’re none of us perfect.

  2. Hooray for your mother for finding the right balance for the birds-and-the-bees topic.

  3. conniemcleod says:

    There was no question i couldn’t ask my Mom. Until I read your post, I hadn’t attributed my healthy attitude toward sex to the healthy way she always answered my questions. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Anne Louise Bannon says:

    Thanks for the great comments! It is an embarrassing subject, because it is private. But it does help when we do get good parenting in that area.

  5. I remember my mother forcing us to always use the correct words for everything sexual. We hated it, but we also learned respect for sexuality. Thank you for helping me see that fact. And, I say that comedy about sex is like potty humor for adults. It’s cheap and easy – and reflects, at worst, lazy writing.

  6. melinda! says:

    Wow! What a wonderful gift your mom gave you. This is how it should be with all of our lovely daughters:-) Thanks for sharing!

  7. I admire your mom! My sweet mom was cagey at best.

  8. Carmen says:

    I loved reading this! Sex was a topic that my mom tried to talk to me about, but she never fully developed the lessons. It is so important to make sex education a normal part of parenting. Meaning, it is so important not to shy away from it. Kids whose parents are giving them the facts and allowing them access to proper birth control without feeling guilty, are far less likely to have sex at a young age, and are less likely to have a baby before they are ready. I also agree that if we aren’t teaching them about it, then the media and their friends are, and their thoughts are going to be far from realistic. What a great post!

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