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Parents, talking to boys about sex shouldn’t be hard

Boys need special formal talk on sexuality. Back in my days, I got all the lessons from my grandfather. Including the art of seduction! With hindsight, most of the lessons are much deeper than any books I have come across.

Over last 2 decades, movies and sitcoms have presented a caricature of the sweaty-palmed, birds-and-bees conversation in which Dad stammers through a convoluted description of sex to a pre-adolescent boy — who, it turns out, knows all of the details already. The humor arises from the tension most parents feel about discussing sex with their kids. ("What if we tell him too much?" "Will this rob him of his innocence?" "What if he starts asking about what we do?")

What isn't so funny is the reality that too many boys learn about sex from everyone but their parents. Playground slang and obscenity, a distorted description of intercourse from the tough kid up the street, or worst of all, a look at some pornographic material on cable TV or the Internet often provides a boy’s first jarring glimpse of sex. What should be seen as the most beautiful, meaningful and private communication between a married couple becomes a freak-show curiosity. "Mom and Dad did that? More than once?!"

Efforts by public schools to correct misinformation from the street and lack of information from home often leave out a critical ingredient: the moral framework within which the facts about reproduction should be presented. Without an ethical context, sex education becomes little more than basic training in anatomy, physiology, infectious diseases and contraception.

Giving a boy facts about reproduction, including details about intercourse, does not rob him of innocence. Innocence is a function of attitude, not information. A school-age child who understands the specifics of sex, while seeing it as an act that, in the proper context, both expresses love and begins new life, retains his innocence. But a boy who knows very little about sex can already have a corrupt mind-set if he has been exposed to it in a degrading, mocking or abusive context.

Openly addressing the all-too-human questions of sexual development, sexual desire, and the nature of the adolescent’s developing sexual identity are critical.

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