Friday, April 23, 2010

"The Talk" From a Non-Parent

Working for the SC Campaign, we have always supported parents having an ongoing conversation with their young people about sex, but to be completely honest, I never could understand the big problem with talking to your kids. Until I had to give the “Talk” myself.

I should give some disclaimers; I am not a parent-at least not to any human children. I have three cats (cue the jokes, ha-ha…), but they don’t require much more than a full food dish.

And I am not a soon-to-be parent. I reside squarely in the “Children: Someday, not Today” category! But I am a big sister. So big, in fact, that there is almost a decade between myself and my little sister.
She was my own Baby Alive, arriving just short of my tenth birthday! And I was her hero for years, earning money as her summer baby-sitter!

Then high school and being “cool” became my main “thing." I needed a real job to afford the “cool” car and the “cool” clothes. No more summer days with the lil’ sis and with a blink, I turned around and she was 15, in high school and teen years!

The phrase “they grow up so fast” really sank in! I realized what I was going through when I was about her age and that she might need a friend right now, instead of a big sister. So we started to hang out again!
One night when she was at my apartment, I brought up the big, bad subject of boys. The word “boys” had traditionally been followed by moans about how they had “cooties” and were “stinky and yuck." This older version of my sister had a different response. She blushed, and I asked if she had a crush.

Like a waterfall, she told me about this new boy in school and how she thought he would ask her out! She was so excited she even mentioned that she wondered if he was a good kisser, and I had to bite my cheeks to keep my chin from hitting the floor!

My baby sister, who yesterday was two, was now a teenager talking about kissing. I realized then that it was probably the right time to try to have the “Talk." I knew she wouldn’t be as forthcoming with our mother and Mom had just mentioned that my little sister wasn’t interested in boys yet. (Rrrriiiiigggghhhtttt!) So I started to launch the “Talk”…and it wasn’t as easy as I imagined.

First, I asked a lot of questions, to the point where she got suspicious, and clammed up. No more elaborate answers were shared and my questions were being met with squinted eyes as she tried to figure out what was going on. Then, when the word “sex” came out of my mouth, you would have thought I shot her! A shout rang out that sounded a lot like a loud “NOOOOOO!” and immediately, she shut down. So much for on the job training!

I remembered then what I had been hearing about the “Talk” from work, “It has to be ongoing, not just one time”. I had two options; I could run down a list of facts for my little sister right now, or I could let this night continue without delving further until the next time she brought it up. What I chose to do was a little of both.
I told her that being safe was very important and knowing how to be safe was the first step! I offered to help answer any questions she had about being safe and about relationships and left it at that. A few weekends later, watching a movie (thank you Lifetime!) there was a teachable moment and I jumped on it. And from there on, that is how it works for us. When faced with information or questions about sex, sexuality, or relationships, we talk about it. I answer the questions she asks me and get to ask her a few about her choices as well. I have been amazed at how far we have gotten and how much she has learned. And I learned from her too.

I learned immense respect for those parents having the “Talk”. I learned how the “talk” should work. And I learned that I can do it when I have to, someday!

By: Taylor Wilson
Contact Taylor at

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