Sex Ed for Grown Ups

real sex ed for grown ups Forbidden Life photo cc Matthew Romack

“Men, you must warm up your women!” – Foxy

I couldn’t agree more.

I’m Tigre, married to the Forbidden Fox that you know and love so well. I love every moment I have with my wife, and wouldn’t be here, fully present, with her without all my prior stumbles, successes, and uh-ohs – especially those made while I was in the sack. That being true, there are so many things I wish I’d known about sex long before now.

In fact, I wish that it was NORMAL to have real conversations with our sons and daughters about sex.

When, though? At age 3… 4…? Maybe not. But, we could certainly start to communicate with them the realities of where babies come from (you know, the uterus via the vagina), and not gloss over it with some fantasy where storks do all the work. Do you need to discuss cunnilingus with a 5th grader? No. A junior in high school? Well, it depends. The right age to share these details depends what’s appropriate for your child. How will you know? By being a loving, observant, and real parent.

Imagine… simply by having a few early, shameless conversations about bodies and where babies come from, we could pave the way for openness about sex and sexuality later on… We could teach our teens that:

Sex is beautiful. Sex is messy.

I was never told how beautiful sex would be, nor how messy it was either. Everything I did learn came from uneducated peers and HBO, plus the pornography I found, encountered, or stole (only for a three month period in 1992). What a great fountain of misinformation. I didn’t even know what masturbation was or that pornography was for masturbation until I encountered a phrase referencing it in a Penthouse Letters magazine.

Learning about sex from a hyper male-dominated industry like pornography is not helpful for either sex.

Boys are taught that women just want “it”, that every hole is game, anything less than an 8” dick is worthless, and if you’re not immediately hard and in charge, you must be lacking or *aghast!* gay (which is totally OK to be). Girls are taught that a slutty Barbie-type is the ideal woman, that they should be good little semen receptacles, and P.S…. they need boob jobs. And, as violence pervades pornography more and more, I don’t even want to imagine what a teenager currently absorbs through that experience.

Sure, some states allow “sex education” to be taught, usually starting in middle school, but my experience (in Virginia and in single-sex classrooms) only included learning about body parts, STDs, prophylactics, and why abstinence was great. Nothing was taught about how to actually have sex because heaven forbid that we teach our children about something they are going to do, one way or another.

Many schools decide, in our litigious and (let’s face it) religion-dominated society, to leave the discussion up to parents.

So, how’s that going for all of us?

He/She is too:

How many of us have had a sexual partner that was any of the above (or something else far worse)? How many times have we left that hyped-up moment feeling unsatisfied, confused, dejected, or injured?

I’ve been on both the receiving and (inadequately) giving end of all those experiences, and I think that many of them could’ve been prevented by a few real and mature conversations about all of what sex entails.

Sure, we learn through mistakes, and I don’t discount the exploration, experimentation, etc. that we all go through with intercourse and love making. But, we can bring up a wild and aware generation of children that can potentially lessen the collective trauma we all have around sex.

It all starts with truth.

Like I mentioned earlier, building a healthy relationship with sex begins with the baby talk. When your child starts asking about babies, tell them the truth! You’ll be impressed at how well children handle honesty. It’s a crucial stage in building trust and rapport between child and parent.

When Foxy and I realized we were pregnant with our daughter, we told our son first. We told him first because he’s in our unit! He’s Team Member Tres and it’d be a disservice to him to tell anyone else about the new Team Member Cuatro coming into our collective life.

We also told Señor Tres exactly where Señorita Cuatro was gestating (and yes, we use words like gestating with our son), how she was going to grow, and where she was going to exit (hint: the vagina, should everything go according to plan).

We told him about the reality of birth to remove the taboos surrounding our private parts. Children are curious and mostly just want to know what’s what. When we deny, obfuscate, or lie about anything, we run the risk of the child: a) creating their own uneducated/fantastical reality about the topic/subject, and/or b) finding out later that we lied to them and potentially losing their trust/comfort around the topic.

Masturbation: Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, does it.

Children masturbate. Not in the sense of what’s probably in your mind right now, but in the sense that, “Hey, that feels good, I’ll keep doing that.” Just like sucking thumbs or receiving a loving hug from a parent, touching yourself feels good! Not only good, but sometimes it feels great!

I speak from experience; our son has a fondness for fondling himself. Instead of denying him self-pleasure, we acknowledge that he does it, but have taught him that there are appropriate places for touching one’s own private parts (his own bedroom, when he’s alone).

Does he always listen? Of course not! He was three when we first had this conversation, and we have since been informed by his pre-school teacher that some private self-pleasure time happens occasionally in class. Even she assured us that this was totally normal behavior for his age. So, we all simply remind him kindly where it is and isn’t okay to be playing with his penis. He confirms and goes back to whatever he’s doing.

No taboo. No admonishing. No big deal.

Well, he does have a bit of an OCD complex and tends to play with it too much, but, again, we talk to him about the consequences of being rough or excessively playing with his penis. “Your penis is a very important part of you and you need to be nice to it.” Now he (mostly) does it in an appropriate manner, without issue, in his own room, alone.

When the juices start flowing…

Fast forward to the age when sex is imminent or likely. If we’ve been parenting with honesty, truth, and integrity, this part shouldn’t be difficult. I totally understand that adolescents are tough nuts to crack, and each situation is unique, but the root structure is the same.

Love, observation, and being REAL are all you need.

Love: because it’s the root of all relaxation and trust. Without love, there’s withholding, fear, and reservation. Love your kid, express it in healthy ways, and you’re 99% of the way there in having an open, honest, and real discussion about sex.

Observation: because it’s a key component in being present in life. When we objectively observe, we don’t bring in the contamination of prejudice, fears, or assumptions (and we all know what happens when we assume). By being an effective observer, you can tell when your child is open to talking. If he or she seems to be retreating, maybe a talk should be postponed or approached a different way.

Being Real: because without it, we’re just lying to them and to ourselves. This is the prong that gets the least amount of attention and seems to get set aside… (Real can be uncomfortable sometimes.)

How it could’ve been…

I accept all my pitfalls because I wouldn’t be where I am without them, but I don’t think that excuses parents from engaging with their children truthfully about sex.

My parents were, and thankfully still are, very loving human beings. Growing up, they frequently kissed in front of me. Not in the awkward, “Hey kid, look at us,” way, but in the “I love you and am not ashamed to show it” type of way. So they had the “Love” ingredient above down pat.

What they weren’t so much of was very observant or 100% real. I never recall a time where we talked about how healthy boyfriends and girlfriends operate, or even how to get to boyfriend/girlfriend status with someone. I appreciate the freedom they gave me, but boy was I out there blindly feeling my way through affection (or was it infatuation?) and hormonal swings.

Some honest, real conversations I would’ve appreciated having:

1. Sex is great, but don’t expect to have great sex until you’re 30.

This, of course, applies to my personal paradigm. I honestly think that an 18 year-old could have safe, great sex. But given how we teach our kids, I think that’s pretty uncommon.

I would’ve liked to know that obsessing and thinking about sex all the time was a) natural and OK, yet, b) not really worth all my brain power. A little assurance that it will come would have helped… along with a hint that rushing into sex is overhyped. Without proper teaching (more below) it’ll likely be a bit, um, awkward and angst-ridden.

2. Sex is messy, so don’t be shocked.

All the fluids we learn about in middle school only seem to apply to men. The only way I learned about female ejaculation was through a porn video. I was both impressed and shocked. Was that pee? Was that to be expected from every woman? If she didn’t squirt, was I not adequate?

Leaving aside female ejaculation and focusing on the standard messiness of sex, knowing that sweat, semen, and fluids happen is helpful to know, but the real kicker to teach and share is the emotional messiness of sex.

A good friend and shaman in Iquitos told me, “Sex is a powerful tool or weapon. Use it carefully for it carries more power than you may be aware of.” We need to teach our children the same. Sure, you may have a penis or vagina that can give and receive, and alcohol and drugs can make that encounter highly likely, but considering the power behind sex, the attachment that it can create, and the intense emotional roller coaster it fuels should always be a part of the decision process to *come* or go.

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you go soft (or, for the ladies, when you dry up).

Again, porn severely twisted my neural pathways into sabotaging many of my early sexual encounters. It’s becoming more accepted that the central nervous system has a large role in the control of our erections. The same goes with women and their bodies’ sexual responses. A woman can quickly go dry, just as a man can quickly go limp, with an unnerving thought, image, or comment.

I vividly recall my first time being quite frustrating. So much tension and expectation was built up that, come time for the big act, I was unable to get it up. Had I been taught to breathe, relax, and not take myself so seriously, I could have focused on the person I was sharing this vulnerable, powerful space with and allowed my erection to return.

4. “Women, like water, are slow to boil.”

I love East Asian and Indian ancient culture. The awareness of sex and the fathomless ways in which they had sex is a testament to the openness humans, at one time, shared within their dominant culture. The above quote comes from a wonderful book that I also would’ve loved to have read prior to embarking on my blind exploration of sex: The Multi Orgasmic Man.

Knowing some techniques and approaches towards helping my partner flower and bloom in anticipation would’ve done wonders for the experience on both ends. Suffice it to say, it took a lot of practice and reading (much from the aforementioned book), to learn techniques and approaches towards helping bring my partner to the simmer stage.

5. There are many ways to connect and experience bliss.

In our hyper sexualized culture, I think we place sex on a (albeit conflicted) pedestal because we’ve lost access to other ecstatic means of connecting with source, God, Allah, etc., and because commercialization exacerbates that disconnect to use sex as a tool for manipulation.

We’re taught that sex is the pinnacle of ecstasy, but that’s only half true.

Sex is powerful and beautiful, but only through the hard work of self love and acceptance, trust, communication, and fidelity. Foxy and I have experienced the best sex of our lives with each other because of those traits (and many more). We continue to experience uncharted territories and sometimes pinch ourselves to see if we’re really living this beautiful life.

AND, we also experience ecstasy by being fully present in our lives and the lives of those around us. We connect and find bliss in a hug, in a smile, in wearing animal attire to brighten strangers’ days… We breathe in the sun’s warmth, we soak in the earth’s support, we appreciate life. Sex IS one part of this magical tapestry, but we tap into bliss in myriad ways.

What would you have liked to know before popping your cherry?

Or, how will you help your offspring embrace sex in a healthy, and mature manner?

So many of us have persistent pain bodies related to how someone treated us sexually, especially when we were young. Imagine if that person, who violated your trust and body, had been brought up with love, presence, and real conversations about sex…

Now, imagine (and acknowledge) that you have an opportunity with your own children to help educate and guide them towards healthy and beautiful sexual experiences of their own.

As an adult, I would also encourage you to take your own sexuality into your hands. Not having the experiences you yearn for? Start educating yourself on what might be missing (start here for men and here for women). If books aren’t your thing, sexuality comes up frequently in Foxy’s sessions, with resulting empowerment and shamelessness on the other end of the line. Come chat with her.

Let’s break
the cycle of
sexual ignorance.

Together, we can all help bring back the beauty, the mess, and the reward of healthy sex and true intimacy.


Photo cc Matthew Romack