A group of 14 year-olds was sitting behind us - Justy knew their ages from helping coach middle school sports. They began discussing their "numbers" - as in number of sexual partners. One girl was bragging that she was at "seven... no, eight" and the other kids laughed and jokingly said, "Oh yeah, you are a whore!"
Like the thought of a 14 year-old having even one sexual partner is funny - let alone EIGHT!
Then one teen asked another girl a question, and she replied that her personal record was 13 "sexual favors" (in place of the more graphic terminology) in one day. It was implied through the conversation that it was with 13 different boys.
First of all: Yuck.
Second of all: Yuck.
And third of all: This is the kind of shit kids are doing and discussing before even entering high school?!
Even if they were exaggerating or just making it all up, which they very well could have been, it is still disturbing to me that bragging about these kind of exploits is even cool to do.
Is this really the norm now?
This makes me beyond nervous as a parent.
I am betting their parents have NO IDEA what kind of things they are talking about, much less doing! And I am sure quite a few of these teens come from "good" homes.
Homes with parents that check homework and cook family dinners.
Homes with curfews and chores to be completed.
And their well-meaning parents have not a clue.
On the walk home, us three adults were discussing all that we had heard.
Jared's first comment was, "I told you that I am praying we just have nerdy kids."
And I am pretty sure he is spot-on. I would much rather have a band geek or a book worm who feels comfortable in her own skin than a "popular" child who will do whatever it takes to fit in.
As a parent I want to shield my babies from all this, keep them innocent until they are actually mature enough. But I know that isn't possible, so it's up to us to establish in them a sense of self-worth and morals. I don't want my child (in middle school no less!) thinking any part of the above conversations is cool.
My main goal is to be approachable.
And while I want to instill values and independence in my children so that they can eventually make the right decisions on their own, I also want them to feel like they can talk to me about anything - even the hard or downright uncomfortable stuff.
I am reminded of a quote I saw a while back that has stuck with me.
I am guilty of this - of not listening.
Just as I am sure all parents are.How many times in a day can I hear the same made-up story about Barney driving to our house in Papa's tractor? (Am I right?!)
But it is the point that as they grow, it's important for us to listen to the little stuff. To really hear them talk about the fight they had with their best friends because they didn't invite them over to play. To really listen to them excitedly tell us about their latest art project. If we won't even listen to these things, I doubt they are going to trust us with the biggies: sex... drugs...(And rock-n-roll...? Corny but I had to.)
And I am sure the hardest part is starting the conversation or knowing how to. After the incident yesterday I remembered that our pediatrician's office in Omaha handed out information starting at the 2 year-old well check. It was a print-out from a website devoted to helping parents talk to their kids about sex. It had a lot of good information and kept it really easy and basic.
It starts at age 3 and goes all the way up. And I am sure it is only going to get more uncomfortable as the years go by, but if having honest discussions with my kids keeps them from being one of those teens bragging about her "daily record," then I have absolutely no problem with it.
Plus with 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys being sexually abused in childhood, it is extremely important to me that my kids not be one of those statistics. Arming our kids with basic knowledge can go a long way in helping them protect themselves.
And if worse comes to worst, I have no shame in whipping out the nasty real-life STD pictures as a teenager scare tactic. Totally not kidding. Who's with me??!