Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Duggars, The Birds, and The Bees: Let's Talk About Sex

One of the more fascinating dichotomies I have found with the Duggar family is that for all of their conservative leanings, you have to believe that almost all of their kids know exactly where babies come from and how they were made. Sure the really young ones probably are in the dark, but with all of the kids going as a group to ultra-sounds and with all of the births the older 10 or so have seen, the subject had to have come up. I for one doubt the Duggars are telling them the stork visited.

What was interesting and rather touching was what we learned when Josh got married--that sex and making love are two quite different things. This is a difference that a lot of us have been desensitized to in the world today. The tangent of sex in advertizing aside, I am quite envious of the Duggar's ability to have their children be aware of the science of childbirth while keeping the more sensual discussions of the subject a special event before marriage.

I actually have the hilarious "sex talk" story from my growing up years in that my mother simply told me that I would never be having sex and therefore there was nothing to talk about. Yes she really said that. Was she serious? No, of course not, but what she was saying is that....Heck no I'm not telling you anything. She was the avoidance type and working in the school system, she knew that I'd learn everything the way most kids do--from talking to their friends. Was this the best option? Of course not. I had a lot of misinformation until the film they showed us in sixth grade. Talk about embarassing. The sad thing is that I've been married three times and she honestly would prefer to believe I was a virgin on all three of my wedding nights. I'm 40 and a mother and she still doesn't want to discuss the issue. Ok maybe a little before SHE remarried but that's a discussion for a future therapist.

Back to the Duggars. I'm certainly not one that can claim such luck when it comes to long marriages--I have been married 4 1/2 years and I plan to be married to this man until death parts us--and before you can snark, no I actually didn't see that happening with the first two. But anyway, BECAUSE of my past experiences, I can clearly see why they teach their kids about courtship.

When Jim Bob and Michelle talk about how she had dated previously to him and brought in baggage from those relationships, I knew exactly what they were talking about. Anyone who's gone through a horrifying break-up or been cheated on, for example, will undoubtedly have trust issues when they move on to the next person. I certainly did, regardless of how fabulous, wonderful, and trustworthy the next person is. Unfortunately, that wonderful new person has to pay for the damage the previous person caused. On the flipside, the downside to courtship is that you're waiting until after you've married to find out if you're truly romantically compatible. While that isn't the core of a marriage, it is a big enough part of it.

What do you think is best for kids? Do you tell them from the beginning where babies come from or wait until it comes up--like if YOU are pregnant? Have any fun stories to share?


  1. When my daughter was barely 4, she asked me how the neighbor lady got a baby into her tummy. I told her that God put it there. That was sufficient at the time, she was only 4 years old.

    Fast forward to this summer, she turned 8 years old, and she asked me when she was going to get breasts. A long time ago I bought an American Girl book entitled "The Care & Keeping of You" which does a fabulous job of addressing the changes that happen to a girl's body during puberty.

    We read it together and then followed up with a book called "The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made" which is geared to the age 5 & up crowd. Again, it's very basic and talks about how a man and a woman make love.

    She read along with me and when we were finished, I asked her if she'd like to talk some more, or if she had any questions.

    Her reply, "Well, that's just gross, I'm NEVER doing THAT."
    Then she asked if she could have a snack.

    I know she'll (obviously) have more questions later, but for right now, we're okay.

    Michelle Duggar said in one episode that her daughters keep track of HER menstrual cycle. Kinda creeped me out, to be honest. Too Much Information, but to each his(her) own!

  2. fabulous comment!!! we all read "are you there g-d it's me margaret" over and over...but to be honest, i had tons of questions but no one to answer them...i hope i'm more open than my mom was, but i can't be sure...i look at my daughter and can't help but want to build a chainlink barb-wire fence around the house when i think of boys and dating in the future...

  3. I can't remember the talk my parents gave, I do remember that I wanted to just die then and there so I wouldn't have to listen anymore. what I do remember was in high school my mother gave me a box of condoms, because my evil-witch step mother thought I needed them, when in fact it was my sister who could have used them.

    My favorite part of when Josh and Anna got married, was when Josh openly shared that he was very anxious about the wedding night and was worried about it not going right. Jim Bob said, " well, it's kind of like legos". Classic Duggar moment!

  4. Growing up in my house the subject was taboo. I learned it on the streets from the older kids. i'm thankful to have the opportunity to homeschool my kids so they are a little more sheltered than the average child. my husband had the talk with my son, and he handled it well. my daughter who was 8 asked me questions about sex. I told her everything, she cracked up and thought it was crazy. We have such a tainted view of sex. I still do to this day. I hope my children save themselves to marriage and don't have baggage from any previous relationships. I am a strong believer in the courtship thing. I wish i would have done it!...Christina

  5. legos??? hahahaha how did i ever miss THAT?! i just about fell off my chair reading that :).....i'm not sure if this is funny or sad but i do remember during my...first time...thinking "this is what my mom didn't want me to be doing? i don't get it..." hahaha oh well, live and learn...

  6. my mom was always very open with me about my body and the changes it would go throu when i started my peroid and went throu purbity onced that happend again my mother was open to how babys where made not going in to all the dirty details but more of a explanation of how it happend but open all the same i was the same with my son when he reached the poit of liking girls and again once pubirty hit i took him to planned parenthood and allowed him to sit and talk with someone who was not related so that i wouldn't be as akward my son and i live in a city where most young men including most of his friend have children at a young age but my Lee is very happy to tell you that he is not a father or that he is waiting for that special someone to have that child with so what every i did worked

  7. I - wrongly - thought I had everything figured out without parental discussion for two reasons:

    First (hilariously), a music teacher at our school once told us that we couldn't listen to the song 'Like a Virgin' in class because of the word virgin. When asked what the word meant, she told us that it was someone who had never been married before. Since teachers never lie, I took this as gospel truth (*wink*) but couldn't understand why that would preclude a song from our approved play-list. When my younder sister later asked my parents what a virgin was, I gleefully jumped in with my answer from the music teacher and my mother stated I was absolutely correct!

    Secondly, because our babysitter growing up watched soap operas all the time, I figured that when the couple kissed too much, a baby happened (though the actual details were a bit fuzzy). I thought you could kiss a little if you liked each other, but not too much if you didn't want a baby. The tricky part was knowing how much or how little to kiss (at least that part is right?)! Fast-forward to my sister's slumber party a few months later. Someone there claimed to have all the baby-making details and shared them. My sister reported this in front of me to my mother, who straightened us out and I was so upset that I had it wrong and mildly grossed out that my parents did that (at least twice, anyway). In an odd Duggar-twist, it was at the slumber party that I contracted chicken pox, probably from the fast-talking 8 year old!

  8. proudmrs...that is HILARIOUS! thank you for sharing that...

    Reminds me of when i was in about 7th or 8th grade...watching an episode of "family ties"--nice wholesome family show in the early 80s...and it was a "mature" themed episode where one of Mallory's high school girlfriends finds out she's pregnant....of course my mom flips out, but when i commented that i didn't see the big deal in this girl and her boyfriend moving in together--the fury exploded...she couldn't understand how i could think something like that was acceptable...

    well what she failed to realize, was that her refusal to explain exactly what sex was and how it pertains to babies left me with a vast gap in my knowledge base...what's the big deal with two people living together? ...well nothing if you don't know sex even exists! they'd just be living together right? hahaha....she never did explain the situation to me, just left me there trying to figure out what i'd said that was so wrong....i love my mom and she is/was fabulous...but that refusal to discuss sex while still expecting me to think purely was flawed in its theory...how could i decide sex was important and worth treasuring if i didn't even know what it was? ...to this day i'm baffled by her shear refusal to even entertain the idea that discussing the mechanics of the act be necessary in the education of a child

  9. hmmm. So many problems with discussing sex. I raised my children on a farm with puppies, kitties, horses, goats... And both of my children knew exactly where they came from having been present at a number of births. When our male terrier decided to breed our little female in the middle of the living room there was a lot of excitement. My son was seven or so, my daughter was five...

    Rather than be embarrassed and make up a foolish story I simply explained that they were 'making babies' and told the kids how it happened. Both of them already recognized the anatomical differences between boys and girls so it was a logical progression.

    No embarassment, no lies or cute stories... It also presented a wonderful opportunity to explain that WE are not DOGS and God planned for people to use their intelligence to control their sexual impulses and not simply 'make babies' whenever they felt like it the way dogs do. Sexual intercourse intended by Him to be a beautiful intimacy of marriage.

    I was thrilled by Josh's attitude toward intimate contact before marriage. I wish every youth could understand the greater intimacy that is created by the courtship process that restricts sex until after marriage.

  10. my mom loooked around the library and checked out a book for me to read to learn about sex. i was allowed to come to her afterwards with any questions i might have, but it was just kind of a "here you go" situation.

    although to be fair, and i have learned from quite a few parents that its a problem with girls, i was engaged in "personal pleasure activity" without even knowing what it was as a young child. she finally got upset with yelling at me and finding ways to punish me (spankings and trying to change even sleeping habits) and checked out a book so i would have a better understanding. although she let years go by between one and the next so by the time i learned it was like "oh... so THATS what ive been doing????" lol.

    her best friend had the same problem with her youngest. according to House (on the show with the same name) it just means you might have to talk to your child about sex a little sooner so that they learn its not something to do in public and what it is they are doing so they can act accordingly.

    other than that, and my mom telling me before i read a VC Andrews book "this isnt how it is in real life." i never had much of a sex talk. i didnt even know that we pee out a seperate hole!!

  11. I decided I wasn't going to shelter my son from shows like TLC's "A Baby Story". As well, I am involved in Women's Reproductive rights, which means at 8 he probably knows more than your average child. He definitely knows that babies don't have to be born in the hospital, there are non-pharmaceutical ways to conceive or prevent babies and that babies "grow in a uterus NOT a tummy!". Last, between having a cousin who was born four months after her parents got married, the local transit company allowing Trojan to put ads on the bus and a few episodes of "I Can't Belive I'm Pregnant!", he knows that condoms are only 95-97% effective if used properly.

  12. Under 30, not married, no kidsSeptember 12, 2010 at 8:39 AM

    I believe I learned about sex first in school, and asked my mom questions that weren't answered in school. In school things started out slow, in 4th grade the girls and boys were separated and were taught about ourselves. I can't remember the progression, but i learned about sex and getting pregnant and how to prevent it. My mother went to church and then my father made us all go to, and I resented having my sunday morning sleep-ins taken away. Eventually I was to to choose not to go. I did not grow up in an overly religious house, God was not an unwavering idea. My mom is very liberal about sex, and I don't think my dad thinks I'm still a virgin, but I don't want to have that conversation with him, but I doubt he expects me to be and he has no right since he's living with a girlfriend whom he never intends to marry, which I prefer.

    What I don't understand is how people think that going to public school and watching tv will make a girl end up having sex before she's married and get pregnant. I went to public school and was properly educated, and I made the decision that I would wait to lose my virginity to someone special and when I felt I would be able to handle getting pregnant if the condom and birth-control both happened to fail. I'd learned enough to realize that I would not want to wait until I was married because sexual compatibility is a key to a good working marriage. I did not have sex until I was 20 and I was dating a boy I loved. I also did not do everything but up until that point, I did very little being some heavy making-out. I do not have sex with a guy at the drop of a hat, in fact I've only had sex with 2, and haven't had it in a few years because I have not been in a serious relationship. I don't agree with sheltering children as a way to get them to wait until marriage, I also believe girls should be raised to make the choice until when they should have sex, and that's their decision, and it's better to educate them fully so they can make the most informed decision for themselves.

    I also wonder if I'm the only one more than a little disturbed that Josh and Anna went from hand-holding, to a kiss, to kissing, to full on sex all in one day, that seems a little extreme to me.

    From what I know, not educating kids fully on the issues of sex doesn't prevent them from having it, it prevents them from protecting themselves from pregnancy and disease, or the attitude is, "If I use any protection than I'm admitting I'm having sex and that protecting myself is admitting that it's wrong."

    I'm also not a fan of the purity movements that teach/act like the only thing a girl has to offer is her virginity, not her beautiful mind and soul and that they don't seem to have purity balls for boys, it's all about the girls and their "one gift."

    It seems to me that by covering women up, to degrees of modesty that rule out comfort/practicality, is sexualizing women more than letting them wear pants, show their hair, show their legs below the knee. That by keeping women covered to a degree, a man raised that way will be sexually aroused by something as harmless as an ankle or hair. Which I think is making a man's arousing a woman's fault, which it's not, because men can be aroused by animate objects. Tho I appreciate that the Duggars don't go to extremes, but I don't see what's wrong with pants, they don't have to be tight, they are more practical that skirts with many activities and shorts that are to the knee or below are practical and comfortable.

    I know I'm going on a bit of a tangent, but in discussing the sexual education it got me to this point, and I am a little too lazy to try and find the posts that might mention these issues.

  13. In past times, the average age of marriage was much earlier than now. Waiting until marriage was much easier since most couples were married before 21. Im not saying it's not possible to wait,but too high expectations can lead to early marriages and create more problems. Here is hwo I would handle it: I would prefer you to wait until marriage but here is how to prevent such and such, along with knowledge of picking the right mates. the idea is more realistic than preaching no s*x until marriage the more you tell someone not to think of a pink elephant what happens? they think of a pink elephant. I didnt know anything until 13 and the subject was never discussed in our hose. Why are parents so uneasy with this?