Sex and relationships education is now compulsory for all schools in England, but does it matter what they learn in the classroom?
I never had “the talk” from my mum or dad, although there was an unbearable, squirming half an hour during the AIDS panic in 1987 when my father asked me if I knew what a condom was.
(It was hard to tell who was most embarrassed. Him, probably.)
At school, the large TV screen and VHS player was ominously wheeled into a classroom of boys. Today was the day for “the video.” I don’t remember much, except how joylessly biological it was; we guffawed at an infra-red image of an erect penis while our teacher gazed forlornly out of the window.
But the “sex” isn’t as important as the “relationships” – and that’s where a father can make a difference.
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You’re the man who is going to set every example, good or bad. You can show that men don’t have to be aggressive; can listen; can be gentle. You can talk about consent and what it means. That’s going to have a much bigger impact than “the talk” ever can.
How did you learn about the birds and bees – from parents, at school, or somewhere else? How embarrassing or useful was it? And what can a dad do to help his children grow up into healthy adult relationships?
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I got everything from school in terms of actual facts. Beyond setting, in fairness, a good example on the relationships front it simply wasn’t something me and my dad ever really talked about. Except once.
It was the morning I was about to go to university. Bare in mind I had GCSE and A level Biology and was about to go to Durham to study, you guessed, it Biology. If I didn’t know at least a bit about sex then I probably never would. Nevertheless my dad walked up to me and said, and I quote, “Son, I want to say something to you. If you’re going to put yourself about use something. You don’t want your knob to go green and drop off.” He then thrust a packed of 12 condoms into my hand and walked out the room.
And that was the birds and bees from my parents.
I guess in terms of making sure I didn’t pick up something nasty it was blunt and to the point. Beyond that though…..
I had some really good sex advice from our Biology teacher at the all boy’s school I attended – he did all the science bit but also gave the general message ‘don’t get anxious thinking it will never happen, because it will ‘. It was great advice – although, and I kid you not – he was later convicted as a paedophile. Can any of your readers beat that?
Oh, and the song ‘sex education’ by the king blues is a great song on this subject…
An older boy showed me page three of the sun, and proceeded to explain the birds and the bees to me. I was about 10 at the time.
Brilliant! Nothing like sex education The Sun style!
I grew up as a gay child in the 80s and 90s so no sex or relevant relationships education for me from school or parents, apart from the irrelevant biology of reproduction. In fact, homophobic legislation (repealed as recently as 2000) prohibited teachers from mentioning anything about gay people; the only reason I knew that we existed was that my Grandpa once mentioned that the Pet Shop boys were ‘puffs’.
To make matters worse, my injudicious 12 year old straight mates thought that gay sex only happened to people in prison against their will so I was naturally frightened by the whole idea. Thank GOD for the arrival of the internet when I was 14.
I hope that gay kids in the 2010s receive all the info that they need. My kids, whether they’re attracted to girls or boys or both will be provided with frank age-appropriate information right from the off-set. I think this needs a whole blog article of its own!