Posted in Sexuality, Teens


Kelly Salasin

Sexuality is the hot topic in our house these days–both for my own 20 year old marriage–and for my teen.  Despite our gender differences (ie. he’s a boy, I’m not) my 14 year old seems willing to hear me out when it comes to this particular topic.

Sure, he’ll make a display of disdain–walking away–but he always winds back around to hear more.  Sometimes he even engages so far as to ask a follow up question or offer his own fledgling opinion.

For my part, I either speak frankly or  make a dramatic effort to be stereotypically parental.  For example, I often say, “Don’t worry about dating.  You’re not allowed to date until your 18.”   In this way, I keep him playfully amused and attentive to whatever else absurd (or vital) I may offer.

Every now and then, I get preachy with a half-hour disertation on a topic like pornography.  For that particular one, I use the help of a great article I found posted on the the Northampton (MA) No Porn Site.

The extended conversation on the topic of porn is “painful” enough that I hope it helps him resist that slippery slope of dehumanizing sexuality.  (I offer “the talk” to each of his friends as well.)

Occasionally, I’ll bring a catchy teen info. book home from the library, which he’ll refuse with rolling eyes, but then later pick up to read– cover to cover:  like the the teenage guy’s survival guide–the real deal on girls, growing up, and other guy stuff by Jeremy Daldry.

The Teenage Survival Guide is  funny, cartoonish and even random enough to engage a 14 year old guy; but this read may be a little more bold than some moms can tolerate. (I was surprised to find it on a ban list.)

I know that my son is thinking about all these things, and more significantly– talking about them with his friends–so I want to make sure that he hears other voices too–even explicitly candid ones.

If nothing else, explicit sexuality provides an engaging platform for more conversation between us, like the movie JUNO did, as it comically explored teen pregnancy.

For myself, I’m reading a provocative book by Margot Anand, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy.  It’s been on our marriage shelf for  years but I’ve avoided any reads directly addressing the act of sex.  I’ve always found that kind of thing a little brash– and unnecessary.

And yet, my husband and I are at a stage in our marriage where we want more–not necessarily more sex–and not better sex (20+ years makes for great loving)–but more… intimacy.

A large part of my youth was spent either romanticizing or recreationalizing sex.  Then there was procreation.  Now I want  celebration– of body, mind– AND soul!

Anand’s book addresses the full expression of sexuality— and that’s something I’d like to pass onto my son while I scramble to figure it out for myself.  (Plus Margot is French– and they definitely know how to live life’s pleasures more fully than some of us more uptight Americans.)

I’ve been able to share some of the basic (non-sexual) intimacy exercises from Margot’s book with my 14 year old– in the hope that he’ll be better prepared to experience the fullness of his own sexuality– when he’s about 25  🙂

More to come on the journey…

Posted in Teens

Don’t tell, but I’m enjoying parenting my teen…

I’ve been afraid to admit this because it might:  jinx me,  come back to haunt me, mock me (you name the expression), but the truth is that I’m enjoying parenting my teen and I have been… for months.  (Shhh…)

It was last year after I read Anne Lamott’s description of her own teen that I began to tremble in fear.  I shared the article with my son who was a turbulent 13 at the time, and he asked, “Mom, if 13 is ‘training-wheels-adolescence (Anne’s coinage), then how are we going to make it through ‘hard core biker adolescence (Anne’s descriptor of 14)’?”

But we must be a “biker family” without knowing it, because (so far) 14 has been pretty sweet.

I think it helps that my son now towers over me so that he is compelled to use my body as a leaning post.  This pseudo form of affection is warmly welcomed (even if it puts my back out of whack) after the long absence of any bodily contact between us that began at 12.

It’s not that my teen is a Stepford child or anything.  He is still moody, prone to obnoxious outbursts, outstanding demonstrations of selfishness and the occasional multiple personalities.

But he always comes back around.

I have to give credit to our family “practice” of Non-Violent Communication.  It’s given my son the tools he needs to understand and express his burning teen desires and it’s lent a voice that I can hear through my middle-aged ears.  And although he is the first to mock any pride we might take in our family, I’d like to think that he feels heard–and because of that, he’s willing to hear us.  His small, but heroic teen efforts of compassion go a long way toward family harmony.

But here’s my secret.  What I am enjoying most is exploring the frightening topic of his emerging sexuality.

Months ago, I reached out to other mothers of boys to ask, What do I need to teach my son about sex? Only to discover that I hadn’t lived what I most wanted to offer. So now we are learning, side by side (although he doesn’t know that.)

(stay tuned for next week’s post on moms, teens & sex)