Teaching Sexual Values
Tweens need to know about the deeper meanings of sex, too. What you say will reflect your personal values, so it may be helpful to consider what you would have wanted your parents to have told you. If you believe that people should only have sexual intercourse to produce babies or that only married couples should enjoy it, be sure to give your reasons. Children who have been exposed to pop culture will know that few people believe in premarital abstinence and monogamy. If you believe that only people in a committed, loving relationship should have intercourse, be prepared to explain your values.
In the tween world, sex is viewed like a baseball game — a competitive endeavor in which boys struggle to overcome girls' resistance, so they can get to “first base” in hopes that they can “score” and are disappointed if they “strike out.” Many boys and girls maintain this competitive mentality through high school. Some, of course, maintain it throughout life; but by young adulthood, most are able to form committed relationships based on emotional as well as physical intimacy.
Every third joke in a TV sitcom contains a sexual comment or innuendo. In most TV dramas, couples have sex outside of wedlock. Despite what you say, your couch potato will learn that making love is a way to relieve a physical itch that entails no special responsibilities to oneself or to one's partner.
Depending on your beliefs, you might tell your child that sex involves being physically as well as emotionally close to someone toward whom he feels attracted. How much people do together sexually should depend on how much of their hearts and bodies they can safely share. Many kids think sex just has to do with the body, but the truth is that normal people can't separate their bodies from their minds and hearts, so sharing your body means sharing your feelings, too. It's important to protect your own body and heart as well as your partner's.
Holding hands or giving someone a little kiss is like sharing a small secret. You might share a small secret with someone you like but don't know all that well. If the person later betrayed you by telling your secret, you would probably be disappointed and a bit angry but not crushed. Petting and deep kissing is like sharing a big, important secret because you're sharing more of your body and your heart. You have to be careful because you could end up getting really hurt. Even if you weren't in love at the outset, if the petting feels good you might start to fall in love. If the other person didn't love you back, you could end up feeling crushed. If the other person fell in love with you but you didn't fall in love, that could crush the other person.
Having sexual intercourse involves sharing your body with someone else in the deepest, most intimate way possible, so it is like sharing your deepest, most important secret. There is also serious physical risk involved, since you could catch a disease or make a baby. You can lessen those risks by taking precautions, but there is a huge emotional risk, because when people have intercourse, they often develop a very strong attachment. If you later realize you don't like that person anymore or decide that the person is wrong for you, you may have a hard time ending the relationship because when you gave your body, you gave your heart, too. Then, when you do break up, you may feel very unhappy and need a while to heal emotionally. If you end up falling in love with someone who breaks up with you, your heart could feel as if it's breaking. If someone falls in love with you and you end the relationship, you could devastate your partner. Eventually you both will recover, but until then either or both of you can be truly miserable. Therefore, before having intercourse, it's important to know your partner very well so you are sure that the person and the relationship is safe for both of you. Usually it's hard to be that sure of yourself and of someone else until you are at least eighteen and are both willing to say, “I do.”