A while back, I asked for topic suggestions – either things about which I’ve written that you enjoy reading, or suggestions for new topics. My friend, Omniwhore (who writes a great blog, btw), wrote that he would be interested to read about “how [I] deal with [my] kids in terms of what they notice, what you tell them, etc.” I’ve touched on this in a few posts in the past, but haven’t really engaged in a comprehensive way with the subject. As I’ve written elsewhere, sex was a big taboo area of secrecy and shame in my childhood, and I’m kinda hell-bent on its not being so for our son. Yet and still, in many ways, I’ve replicated my Dad’s secrecy, if not shame, around sex. We have a secret sex life that we don’t discuss with our son.
But I think that, in many ways, we are, and will be, different.
First off, our kid is pretty young, so sex isn’t, yet, a huge topic of interest for him. But there are a couple of ways in which sex comes up, even at his age. The biggest, of course, is around logistics. When his Mom or I go out, or when the two of us do, he’s increasingly inquisitive about our plans. It’s no longer enough to say, “We’re going out.” He wants to know where, with whom, when we’ll be back, etc. I don’t know that we (yet) have a great set of answers to these questions. For the most part, we’ve been improvising. But my impulse is to twin honesty with privacy, to say, essentially, “We’re going out, and where and with whom isn’t really your business.” I haven’t figured out how to say that, yet, but it seems (to me) the right answer.
Of course, as he gets older, the questions he asks will no doubt be more complicated. My basic guide will, I expect, be “avoid lying at almost all costs, and match disclosure to interest and maturity.” But I think my Dad could claim to have followed that same poicy with me, and, in retrospect, he got it totally wrong. So who knows.