Do you have kids?

Last week I received this question from a thoughtful reader:

“Take a step back and look it like this: How would you feel if your kids were teenagers and inviting guys/girls over for meaningless sex?”


I’ve been turning this question over in my mind for a few days. If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I hate to be a hypocrite. And my kids are young, which makes this question more difficult to answer. We’re still dealing in hypotheticals.

I want to begin by officially switching the term “meaningless sex” to “casual sex.” By my definition, casual sex is any type of sexual contact outside of a full romantic relationship. Anything from sex between friends to one-night stands to groping at a party to flirting online could be included in this definition. And by casual sex, I mean sex that lies outside the realm of responsibility toward another, that is purely first person. This is selfish sex. This is the type of sex where you figure out what you like, what pleases you, what excites you. This is the kind of sex that we should all have before we get married.

Growing up, my mom taught me that sex was something special, only to be shared with a loving partner. Nevermind that she had lots of casual sex at different points throughout her life, some healthy, some not.

It’s true, sex with a loving partner feels emotionally great. It can feel physically great, too. But if you start from a place of trying to please someone else, of trying to assuage their emotions, you might overlook your own sexuality. At least, that’s what my experience has been.

In the case of me and Mark, our sexual relationship started after we were already emotionally indebted to one another. Our emotional attachment began when we were six years old or maybe younger. So our sexual relationship was always, from its very start, about each of us pleasing the other. The responsibility for giving the other pleasure rested solely on each of us.

Honestly, until this year, I had no idea that there was another way to have a sexual relationship. Stumbling across various things online has opened my eyes to things that have definitely changed my mind, and opened up what I can only describe as a fountain of desire within me.

I’ve come to realize that the emotional side of my relationship with Mark makes it almost impossible for me to express, or even feel, the flood of my desire. It’s not because of anything Mark does wrong, but because of my profound sense of responsibility for his pleasure and emotions. I need to know at every moment that he is okay. That’s how I love him, and it’s a fact of our relationship.

To get back to the question about the kids, I think there’s a window of opportunity when you’re young or on your own to figure out what you like. I think it takes a certain level of comfort with your own body and mind, and a willingness to take chances and play. It seems to me that this type of freedom is easiest when you have little knowledge of or responsibility toward your partner(s).

I want to add that knowing what you like goes a long way toward your future happiness with your mate. Knowing what turns you on mentally and physically lets you express your desires more clearly at the start and build your relationship from there. Sex doesn’t have to be a guessing game.

I want my kids to know that sex, like all other parts of life, is important. I want them to feel like it’s fun. I want them to take some time to figure it out for themselves. I’ll provide the birth control, the condoms, the safe place, the freedom, and the emotional support.

Maybe I’m wrong about this. Maybe I’m too idealistic about it. Maybe Mark disagrees with my approach. I only know that I’m not a hypocrite, and I don’t want to send my kids into the world before they are on their way to knowing themselves, completely.


  1. Mark says:

    I don’t know. I think back to the mistakes I made when I was a teenager, and I hope our kids won’t make the same ones. But honestly, when hormones are raging, I think everyone, but especially kids, make particularly poor decisions. As a kid you don’t think you’re likely to get pregnant, but as an adult you have the perspective to realize just how easily it happens (at least for us). As one savvy reader pointed out recently, sex complicates relationships, and I think that’s especially true when you’re young and already unfamiliar with how to handle them.

    Will I be a hypocrite? Perhaps. I think there’s a difference between ignoring reality and trying to encourage responsible behavior. I’m realistic to think that our kids probably won’t wait until they are out of high school to have sex, and so we’ll have the talk, and I’ll give them condoms. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to encourage them to bring someone home and go lock their bedroom door either.

  2. Hubman says:

    The readers question is like apples to oranges, there’s a big difference between a teenager and an adult when it comes to sex

  3. Jenna says:

    Good point, Hubman. In my case, I feel very strongly that I don’t want to give the kids the idea that sex is scary. I definitely received that message from my mom, and it had a huge effect on me. At least we have some time before this really becomes an issue.