IT’S APPARENT, YOU DON’T TALK SEX WITH A PARENT.
There is a point in life when your relationship with a parent shifts from Child & Parent, to Equal & Parent and then Parenting your Parent. With My mother, I am currently in the middle of the last two.
It is a really nice place to be. The conversation and education is a two way street now. Teaching and relating to each other without the confined roles we initially are given to play, bring a very fulfilling dynamic to knowing each other. There are however, boundaries to this new dimension. One thread in particular.
When a mother asks about your intimacy with your girlfriend or boyfriend, she is not asking for the graphic specifics that our generation is desensitized to, thanks to Dr. Oz (providing medical/physiological disclosure) and Howard Stern (providing sexual freedom and exploration data). She is asking about respect, support, sharing, caring and romance, but only blanketed, overview replies are required and expected.
CORRECT: “Well, we were having some problems being intimate but we’ve talked and we’re doing better.”
INCORRECT: “He only want’s me doggie style and I feel like I’m being used.”
I specify the maternal parent in this because in general, it is the mother that engages in this conversation. The father is a basic human being requiring minimal information for maximum assessment.
DAD: “Everything good with you two?”
DAD: “Great. Here’s your mother.”
While you can talk and actually bond with the parent as an equal regarding the ups and downs of a relationship as an adult, it does not mean they can relate to the generational openness and advancements. Remember, it’s your mother, not Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Think about what you would and would not want to know of, regarding your parent’s bedroom habits and then edit accordingly.
Don’t be fooled. They may assure you that they are adult, have lived, and can talk about anything. But it’s like when a child says they like beer and want to drink yours. Then they do, and are nauseated.
Some children feel rebellious when their life is judged by a parent and want to shock them into submission. Like my x-Mormon friend who told his mother that he was he gay, however he “doesn’t take it in the butt”. Upon telling me this story I replied, “You’re a horrible son.”
I received a call a while back from my mother who was concerned about a gay friend’s husband. His skin was grey and yellow or “just generally unhealthy and tired looking”. She immediately decided it was AIDS and was then worried for three days about my brother and I, both of whom are single and “playing the field”. One of us is straight, one gay. Needless to say, she was stereotypically more concerned about the gay one because of the “un-normal sex of two men”.
I told her it sounded like untreated hepatitis. I saw an interview with Pam Anderson on Larry King when she came out about having it, so you know it was from an educated source.
When my mother asked how you get it, I hit the threshold of a very thin line. Do I speak to her like an adult and give her the factual details of people’s sexual practices or do I give a general blanketed statement to avoid guilt by association?
I began by faking a firm voice but tip-toeing around it, like a father giving his son the sex talk.
“Well, it is generally transmitted through oral foreplay … in the … from behind.”
“What do you mean?” She says.
I decided to lead by example, push forward and set the tone of maturity. Half way through the next sentence, my brain yelled “ABORT! ABORT!” But it was too late.
“Some couples, straight or gay, perform oral sex in the rear… rimming or … uh …”
Her voice gets tighter and higher, “Rimming?! I’ve never even heard of that!”
I was drowning. So for my own self-preservation and to save her from another thing to obsess and suffer about in this crazy new world, I cut to the chase with, “ANYWAY, it’s hepatitis. So what are you doing the rest of the day?”
Even just typing out the story, has my chest tight.
I don’t want you to think you have to talk down to your parents. I am just saying there is a line. Psychologists tell parents that when a child asks about the “birds and the bees” or anything of an adult nature, you give them a solid, direct, simple answer to the one question. If they want to know more, they will ask.
You may however, enjoy the new found, adult-to-adult level by talking with them about politics, world affairs, the cousin’s secret bankruptcy and George Clooney’s new movie. Debate your hearts out. Learn and grow with each other as people. Just remind yourself that it is apparent, they are still your parent.
Stay tuned when next I talk to my grandfather about “docking”. Look it up.
– Michael Paul Ziegfeld