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Sex and the University: Parent Talk

By Imaani Cain
On January 21, 2014

We're all around that age where we can become much more candid with our parents. They're aware of the wild goings-on at college, and probably aren't as worried, since their children are now considered legal adults. The distance doesn't hurt either; without constantly having each other around, we can gain a bit more perspective on each other's lives and begin to forge a bond that's more similar to a friendship than a child and authority figure relationship. However, this transition doesn't always come easy: there are some subjects that still might make you feel leery about discussing-for instance, sex.
I never talked about sex with my parents when I was younger. We didn't talk about it in my household that much, and the Catholic private school I attended either gave it only a passing glance, or was horrifically vague about the mechanics of it all. Looking back on it, my mother wasn't exactly tight-lipped about it; there were detailed medical books all over the house, and she was forthcoming with any information I might've wanted. I felt a hideous sense of awkwardness even when offhandedly referring to sex around my parents-sex is such a taboo still in our society, which was always so confusing to me. You were meant to lose your virginity as soon as you could, but you couldn't have sex too many times or with too many people. You were supposed to have quite a lot of it, but couldn't talk about it, especially if you were a girl. Everything about sex was spoken about as if it was some sort of knowledge we had all been aware of since birth.
In retrospect, this whole assumption of knowledge could've ended very poorly. Before I opened up to my mother about sex, the majority of my sexual education was taken from the cheesy harlequin romance novels in the library and HBO. Although it seems lighthearted enough, there's no mention of condoms or birth control in either. No one gets STDs in Danielle Steel's novels or ever requires an abortion. However, when I finally got the courage to ask my mother about it, she laid quite a few queries to rest. My days of trawling the internet for definitions and debating heatedly with friends whether or not you could get pregnant if you had sex standing up were gone.
Talking about sex with my mother has been eye-opening. It's definitely eased our relationship into a much more companion-like one, free of harsh judgment. While I felt, and still feel strange speaking to my doctors about being sexually active, despite them being professionals, there is surprisingly little weirdness in the talks that my mother and I have. There is no clinical detachment that comes with speaking with a doctor. My mother cares about me, and wants to ensure that any sort of entanglement I'm in (be it purely sexual or romantic or both) is one in which I feel happy and healthy.
It seems ludicrous to advise everyone to start talking about sex with their families. However, it may want to be something you consider if you feel as if you have an open enough relationship with your parents. There is, of course, no need to know or spill all the nitty-gritty details, but it might make you feel a bit more casual with your parents. At any rate, it'll cause them to realize that you aren't just their little baby anymore.  


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