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Dear Loch,

I’ve recently become obsessed with a television series called Friday Night Lights. I’m a little late to the party as the entire series has already aired, pilot to finale, but I don’t think it makes a difference. It’s an incredibly engaging show with compelling acting and directing, with a camera style that lends an authenticity to the show that makes you feel like you’re really in the room with these people. I was particularly taken with a recent episode called “I think we should have sex” in which the 15 year old daughter of the main characters plans to have sex with her boyfriend and her mother finds out. Connie Britton’s performance is nothing short of amazing.  She is truly shaken by the idea that her daughter is thinking of this and she expresses her feelings with equal parts grace and fury. Though I think it’s different if you have a son rather than a daughter, in no short part to the double standard known to all, it’s still something I’ve found myself thinking a lot about since I saw that episode. Where do I stand on this? What’s my take?

Baby, I realize you’re 4, but they’ll come a day when you’re not, and all too soon this will become a thing, and it’s a thing worth talking about.

First of all let me say I honestly debated not writing on this subject because…well, gross. These pieces of advice are supposed to come in small doses in casual conversation, where you can nod and leave the room immediately after so no one feels uncomfortable. I want you to be able to come to me with any question, have me answer clearly and susintly without judgement, and allow you to go on your way with both the facts, and very limited awkwardness. I also don’t want you to think I’m promoting sex, because I’m not. It’s a big deal and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. But the truth of the matter is, eventually you’re going to do it, and whether you’re in high school or college or beyond, I think young people get into the most trouble when no one talks about it. If you feel you’re ready (and quite frankly you’re over 16 – because before that, I’m sorry you’re just too damn young) then I want you to be prepared.

The thing is, have no problem talking about sex, but I know that talking to your parents about sex is pretty hideous, no matter how cool the parent. So, I’ll give you the rundown as I know it, and try to keep my personal antidotes to a bare minimum. You should never be embarrassed about sex. It’s not an embarrassing thing. It is, however, a private thing. A personal thing. A not-for-mass-consumption thing.

Ok, so, before you start doing it with other people (preferably one-on-one) you will do it alone. That’s good. It’s an important step. It’s totally normal and everyone does it. You can just tell us one day that you think you need a lock on your door and we’ll get it. No one wants that moment of discovery.

But when it really comes down to it, don’t rush into anything. Not just because adding sex to your life stops your childhood in it’s tracks, but because there are lots of other things you can do before you burden yourself with that responsibility. Don’t feel the need to speed things along or rush to an imaginary finish line. Kissing rocks. When I was a teenager I could literally kiss for hours. I miss that. Really, truly, miss it. The make out years are the best. And once you’re past kissing, there are still tons to things to do before sex. Back in the day we used to say “Everything but…” I remember Granny asking me once what that meant. I was like, “Uh, everything but…pause for her to get it, she didn’t…sigh, Sex. Everything but sex.”  Because once you’ve had sex, it’s always on the table, and you tend to rush right to it and forget about all the other awesome things you did before it was in the game. And I’m not talking about awesome things like playing sports and hanging with your friends. I’m talking about sexual things you do with a partner. I’m just saying, master one set of skills before moving to another. Trust me, women your whole life will thank you.

That’s the thing babe, for the most part, life is long. There will be plenty of time to explore. Plenty of opportunities. Don’t feel like, “I gotta just do it now. I might not get another chance.” There’ll always be another chance, and if you can wait till you’re really in love for sex, then wait. Your dad had sex for the first time at 16 with his long term girlfriend. I was 19 and with my first real boyfriend in University. Had I made different decisions with the boys I talked about in Regrets, I might have been in High School too. But the point is, we were both in relationships. Committed, long term relationships and that’s what I’d advise for you.

Listen, you can have great sex with someone you feel nothing for – mostly because you’re uninhibited and don’t really care what they think – but it doesn’t feel so great after. Try and find someone you really like and trust, so you aren’t self conscious and you want to hang out with them the next day. I’m not saying never have a one night stand or hook up with someone just for fun.  I’m just saying don’t make it a habit. It’s like junk food. Great in moderation but mostly you want to fill your life with healthy stuff that really feeds you.

As you edge your way into sex or sexual situations and experiences, here are some things I want you to know:

First and foremost, if you are having sex, you are using protection. Period. And that protection must be condoms. Unless they have created something that surpasses condoms in ability to prevent the spread of disease and avoid unwanted pregnancies by the time you’re dealing with this, you will be using condoms. Not sometimes. All. The. Time. It is your responsibility. You are in charge. When you’re in a relationship and you know that you’re both monogamous and disease free, then other forms of birth control can be considered appropriate. But NEVER, NEVER just forget. Never. I can’t stress this enough. Sex can be a lot of fun. But it comes with responsibility, and if you screw that up it goes from a good time to a bad time really fast.

I want you to know that porn girls are not real girls. They are naked actresses who are bleached and pumped and waxed within an inch of their lives. Don’t expect real girls to look or behave like that. I think girls today feel the need to perform much more to keep up appearances. Trust me, real sex can be awesome but it can also be pretty funny and sometimes pretty messy. Respect the real girl you’re with. Don’t make her feel she has to be a tanned, gumby doll to please you.

Threesomes are overrated. I’m not saying don’t do one. I’m just saying they aren’t customary. They’re a sexual blip that somehow has become mainstream. When did one partner become banal? Why are we fixated on making it wilder? Different? Crazier? Plain old sex can be plenty steamy. You don’t need to add another person to make it better. Sometimes it just makes it confusing.

Don’t keep anything you tape. All must be deleted. I promise this is excellent advice.

There will come a time when you stop sharing every detail with your friends. That’s normal. It usually coincides with your first real relationship. But until that point, talk about it if you can. That’s how you learn – by combining your, minimal, experiences. I’m not sure if guys talk like girls, but I am very grateful to my friends for all their insight. I never went into any sexual situation blind. I was taught how to do almost everything by my more experienced friends so I never felt like I was floundering. Just be sure not to brag or say anything that might embarrass your partner. Talk, just be classy about it.

Before you add a partner to the mix you might want to consider what used to be called maintenance, and is now referred to as “manscaping”. Take the time to clean up the business. I’m not talking about waxing or anything extreme, I’m just saying, keep everything neat and clean.

Speaking from the other side of the coin I can tell you this. Stay in shape. Cardio, strength, agility and general esthetics all help in this department. Be careful with stubble. It’s sharp and it hurts. Don’t be the guy with too much saliva. Keep your tongue in your mouth until you get to the lips. I remember kissing a very handsome boy in high school who literally had his tongue out of his mouth 2 feet before he got to me. It was all I could do not to lean away. Focus on other areas of the body rather than just the obvious. It’s annoying to have someone come at you with just one thing in mind. It’s going to happen. Don’t be desperate about it. Also, don’t hesitate. It’s a little like driving. If you’re going to change lanes, change lanes. If you’re going to kiss her, kiss her. Pay attention, so you can tell what’s working and take her cues, but don’t waffle or second guess yourself. Make your moves with deliberation. And don’t hook up with someone if you really want their friend. It’s mean and it makes people feel used.

Finally, be open to learning. To having someone teach you the ropes. Really pay attention. A guy I once knew told me he’d dated an older woman who’d taught him everything, and felt she done him a major favor. Whether it’s an older woman, or an open and vocal girlfriend, bother to learn. Be the guy who knows what he’s doing. I’m not understating it to say that guy is remembered long past the others.

Wash your sheets. Make your bed (it’s more appealing to get in to whether you’re alone or with someone else). Be clean. Use hand towels not kleenex. Get to know your own body so it doesn’t betray or embarrass you. Buy good underwear. And for God sake, have fun. Enjoy your youth. Respect your partners and stay healthy and child free.

I’m not ready to be a granny just yet.

xo your mom

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mitchell Fink #

    I LOVE THIS! First, Friday Night Lights is the perfect show for all mothers on how to talk to the their kids. The show did it right.

    Second! LEIGH!!! When Loch reads this, he will know he has one of the coolest moms ever to walk the planet!


    March 19, 2012
  2. Yes! Definitely the coolest mom to walk the planet. No doubt!

    March 19, 2012
  3. Keili #

    The “No Kleenex Rule” is outstanding. So so true. Also? Love the you tackled the ever popular manscaping topic. Hilarious!

    March 19, 2012
  4. Beautifully written – you have one lucky son!

    March 19, 2012
  5. Emily #

    HYSTERICAL! I loved every word and it brought back crazy memories 🙂

    March 19, 2012
  6. What a great post! I second the cool mom comments. And I am all about parenting lessons from Tammy and Eric Taylor. Thanks for sharing Leigh!

    March 20, 2012
  7. Kam #

    It’s love. Thanks Mom.

    April 9, 2012
  8. Tristen #

    I’m constantly impressed by your, if I may say, “ballsy-ness” on this blog. And this one is the big Kahuna! You’re amazing!!!

    March 31, 2013

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