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Talking to Our Sons about Sex and Limits

It's difficult enough to talk about sex with our kids, so it may add to your discomfort when I say that you need to talk to them about date rape too. Boys need to know when sex is consensual and when it's not. Because when it's not and sex happens, it's rape.

Adolescents are going to experiment with their sexuality. And although their urges are normal and natural, we must teach our boys to be responsible about their urges.

Be Clear About Date Rape
Be straight with your boys about sex. They can take it. Kids constantly receive powerful, confusing messages about sex on TV, in ads, music, and videos. Next time you're watching TV with your son and there's a casual sex scenario, (which should afford you plenty of opportunities!) dads can use the media to remind their sons that "getting some" doesn't make a boy a man.

I have counseled many boys who initiated sexual advances not because they wanted to, but because their girlfriends or dates wanted them to. Sometimes, boys think that they'd be considered "queer" or "unmanly" if they didn't "get some." And many girls think they're losers if boys don't want to have sex with them!

Boys may make the mistake of assuming that girls are under some kind of obligation to say no at least once or twice before they "give in"--it's part of the game. Boys have also told me many times that their dates have said "No!" although their bodies were saying a very loud "Yes!"

Using Codes
Suggest to your sons that they establish "sex codes" or "stop sex codes" with their girlfriends and dates. Codes will help them stop sex from going too far when they aren't exactly thinking rationally. You can sell the idea to your son by telling him he can still be romantic when he introduces the idea to the girl. As long as he's not being presumptuous about what she'll do with him physically, she will be impressed that he respects her enough to introduce the code.

Tell your boys they can say: "Okay, Brenda, if we're messing around and you feel you want to stop, pinch my neck real hard. Or say, 'Bob--enough' or 'you're hurting me.' And Brenda, if I feel like we're going too far, I will take both of your hands in mine and squeeze them and pull myself away from you. Those will be our signals that mean we have to stop."

Trusting kids to work out these signals when they're in the heat of passion and high on alcohol or drugs is expecting the impossible. Advise your sons to avoid sexual activity when there's mind and body-altering substances around.

It's our responsibility as parents to help our sons understand the seriousness of date rape. Having this kind of conversation is the best way to start.

Read Carleton Kendrick's bio.

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