Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: It's Not Sex, and It's Not Education

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  • BenWilson, in reply to Paul Williams,

    I'd think a united front would be the most optimal, if you could bring yourself to it. But I'd say again that literature will do a much more thorough job. Especially if the children are themselves shy about it, and also, I guess, if one of them isn't "plain vanilla", in which case your insights won't be of much help.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Tell me this is about Wal's relationship with Cheeky Hobson?

    Gawd I forgot about that altogether. I though it was about the "bitches box", and Cecil the ram.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    We taught our son about sex by reading him the book "Where Did I Come From?" when he was about 8, which has required us to add some amendments since; although the tone and illustrations are pretty good, it is a relentlessly heterosexual, reproductive sex-oriented (and old) book. One effect of this was brought to our attention a year or so later when we tried to explain (in fairly broad terms) my vasectomy to him - he sat listening, seeming to understand the concept, until he interrupted with a puzzled question: "But if you don't want another baby, why would you have sex?"

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to BenWilson,

    Tell me this is about Wal’s relationship with Cheeky Hobson?

    Gawd I forgot about that altogether. I though it was about the “bitches box”, and Cecil the ram.

    Don't forget Cooch's "cousin" Kathy.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I’m sort of hoping that any kids I end up having will be enough like me and my partner that we can just leave books around the place and they’ll do the research themselves.

    I wrote a book and left it lying around a pub. That worked. (It’s only just struck me that the column “words of advice for young people” is book-only. Maybe I should post it.)

    But seriously. Websites. Something like Scarleteen. Then they can ask questions if they have them, and they have access to non-vanilla stuff, as everybody should, because how do you know if you’d like something if you don’t even know it exists?

    Books about sex tend to not actually be about sex. They're about puberty or reproduction. Not the same thing.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Books about sex tend to not actually be about sex. They’re about puberty or reproduction. Not the same thing.

    Yep. Took us a while to work that out.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    But seriously. Websites.

    You sage. Of course, it's modern kids we're talking about after all. Send them an email...um no, too old school. Send them a tweet, with the links.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Books about sex tend to not actually be about sex. They're about puberty or reproduction. Not the same thing.

    Mind you in a search for sex ed apps on the Android marketplace (there seem to be 3), I noticed an old favorite about sex, that is about sex. Karma Sutra. One of the reviewers comments was amusing: 5 Stars "The best of all sutras".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    She said a bad word!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3426 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I actually really hate that, when you wake up in the morning and discover you’ve become one flesh. It’s really inconvenient.

    Really how would you know whether to stand up or sit down?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3426 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to James Butler,

    An old book you say? Ha! How dare you, Sir! My mother bought it brand new for my brothers. My sex education was basically Mum leaving literature lying around for me to read. Oh, and after my deflowering, I came home and she said "You've had sex, haven't you? I hope you're using contraception" and then we had the conversation about the different sorts you could try. I was 18 by this time, so really? A little too late.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Stewart,

    People (obv not PAS readers) need to recognise that parenthood is a very responsible position and that they need to instill in their kids the values that will work best for them.

    Because I'm feeling particularly obtuse
    I'd like to put in a shout out to non-parents like me who also take on the responsibility of brainwash... er instilling random values into my friends kids.

    That probably explains the warning most of my friends now give to their kids when I come to visit.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3426 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    so glad that you do it too - I see my job as subversion

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    This is both tangential and anecdotal, but I was told (by a christian working in the education sector) that Parachute is responsible for a larger number of unwanted conceptions than any other NZ festival.

    I so want this to be true - is there any data?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3426 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Gotta confess my own non-breeding status here; but my sisters both approve of my 'uncling' of their kids (him-on-a-bike, that sounds way worse than I intended, but I'm leaving it in). They learned to ask certain types of questions of me, knowing they wouldn't get fobbed-off without a decent (or indecent) reply but that it would also be a reply worth listening to.

    And often the starting point of a conversation with their mum or dad.

    Te Ika A Maui - Waitakere… • Since Oct 2008 • 572 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose,

    More gold* from the Garth George comment-trough:

    I remember sex ed when I was and there was little in the way of really learning about anatomy, the birds and the bees etc. It was more along the lines of what these people are reporting. Talking about the different things you can do and all sorts of rubbish that I just did not need to know. Especially the normalizing of deviant lifestyles.

    The commenter's handle? "Godboy (Papakura)"

    * where "gold" = "shit", obviously.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Because I'm feeling particularly obtuse
    I'd like to put in a shout out to non-parents like me who also take on the responsibility of brainwash... er instilling random values into my friends kids.

    As a parent, I rely on it. Same sex relationships have been easy to explain in our household because of friends and family. My six year old has a great many aunties and entirely understands that many are in loving relationships just as her parents are.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2233 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Books-for-kids-wise, so far we are fans of the books by Robie H Harris - very straightforward, extremely inclusive definition of sexuality and family, pitched nicely to the different age groups. Also, sweet cartoons.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    same with us - the kids have half siblings with 4 mothers and me (my partner, umm, volunteered me to some lesbian friends who then split up and reformed .... we have lots of aunties) - it made explaining that stuff pretty easy, plus we sent them to this little Oakland alternative school where being a white straight couple made us as unusual as everyone else

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2179 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I'm a big believer in the essential value of "uncles" and "aunties" for kids. It's always worked particularly well in my family where there's about a ten-year gap between the generations in one branch from the other, so every kid's had a "cousin" old enough to be considered responsible but young enough to not be "parental".

    Having had my children ten years earlier than my peers did, I take a special pleasure in making sure I leave some kind of impression on the young'uns.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Max Rose, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I'm a big believer in the essential value of "uncles" and "aunties" for kids. It's always worked particularly well in my family where there's about a ten-year gap between the generations in one branch from the other, so every kid's had a "cousin" old enough to be considered responsible but young enough to not be "parental".

    I guess that's something I missed out on: we didn't have an extended family in NZ, so it was just the nuclear family and friends. I was, however, lucky to have liberal parents and what now appears to have been some relatively awesome sex education at Intermediate school.

    I remember the actual lectures and films that we got as being fairly mechanical and snigger-worthy, but we were issued books that went far beyond biology. There was a lot about foreplay, the stages of arousal, the differences in sexual response between men and women, and the way that women often like to be held, caressed and whispered sweet nothings to during the afterglow of orgasm. Overall, it was probably the most useful education I got during forms one and two, if not my entire schooling.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2011 • 81 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    I'm an auntie - indeed, I'm a great-aunt too.
    One of the really neat things is - 3 of my sibs have bred. The 3 others of us, for various reasons, from endometriosis to never-found-suitable-partner to asexuality,
    havent.
    And there are examples from older generations - a bisexual male, a covert homosexual male, an out&strutting-proud gay male, and even a couple of 'old maids' who -when I read their letters and listened to the olds' stories,- appear to have had a Boston marriage...

    This is all good for the younger generations: from whanau examples, they know of a range of sexual possibilities - and know that there is acceptance *within the whanau* of whatever their sexual choices/definitions may be-

    happily, I am reguarded as a reliable - even if somewhat clinical - purveyor of knowledge, even about matters sexual.

    Subversion? Moi? Of religious & some other authorities - damn right!

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Max Rose,

    I guess that’s something I missed out on: we didn’t have an extended family in NZ, so it was just the nuclear family and friends.

    My mother’s friends, my ersatz aunts, were of far more value to me than my actual biological aunts and uncles. I wrote half a column about them in the wake of my mother’s funeral, but it was far too soppy.

    For years, my son role-modelled hard on our friend Andrew, which was delightful from our point of view. (This is assuming you’re okay with your son growing up with a huge love of Lego, science-fiction, and other men. And we are.)

    Anyway. It’s never too late for Dodgy Uncle Max and his advice on post-coital cuddling. They've survived their Aunty Megan.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4369 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to Islander,

    I'm sure you'd be remarkable subversive influence!

    Sex education isn't a particular worry for me at the moment, but I've had issues with religion with my eldest daughter (who doesn't live with me) in relation to Mormonism. I want to be respectful of people's religious beliefs but I think it's a crock (but have held my tongue). And now my 6 year old is asking me questions... do I believe in God (answer, I'm not sure), what happens to us after death (answer, ditto), is Star Wars real (answer, I really don't want to burst that bubble).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2233 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Paul Williams,

    is Star Wars real (answer, I really don’t want to burst that bubble).

    Answer: "In some other galaxy, far far away..."

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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