I feel a little bit intimidated to be writing about this topic, since I feel it's a fairly big one, and something that many people feel very strongly about, and wonder about how unschoolers handle them. It doesn't really help that it's really late, and I'm not sure I can do the topic justice right now. However, I can always add more, edit things, or write whole new posts later on, so I don't really need to worry if I'm not entirely happy with what I write now!
A while back on Facebook, I was tagged in a note from a mother asking for advice on how to have "The Talk" with her 11 year old daughter. I thought about that a lot, but never answered, because my family never did have that much-talked-about Talk. When I was under two my mother became pregnant with my little sister, so of course I wanted to know how! Her answer was that Papa puts the sperm in her then a baby starts growing. After mulling that over for a while, again, I'd ask "how?" and get a more in depth answer. My mom never glossed over things, but neither did she push unwanted information on me. When I asked a question, she'd simply answer honestly. And so I learned about the very basics of sex at a young age! It also helped that when I was young we had an, erm, very sexually explicit dog, so I got a bit more of an idea from that, as funny and slightly embarrassing as it is to say it! :-P
When I was older, in my preteen years, my mom simply took a huge stack of books on sex ed. out from the library, and I'd surreptitiously flip through them whenever I felt like it. I went through a stage where I found talking about such things incredibly embarrassing, and would have completely flipped out had my mom attempted to "teach" me sex ed. As it was I learned from books, peers (and since I was always smart, I double checked peer learned information with much more reliable sources :-P), the internet (as much as the net is filled with pornography and bad information about sex, there is some good info if you look for it), and my mom (as a last resort!). The only kind of information I remember her kind of trying to force on me was about birth control. At that point, I already knew about everything she was telling me, and was quite peeved at her for embarrassing me by bringing up the subject! Suffice it to say, I learned sex ed naturally, through books and conversations and LIFE, just like an unschooler learns everything else!
In terms of menstruation, that was just normal. We never had closed doors in our house when I was young, and I simply learned about that through living with a grown woman! Again, I was embarrassed about such things, but my mom made it clear I just had to ask for supplies if I needed them, and other the that, I didn't need to talk about it unless I wanted to. I really was a very embarrassed child in many ways, looking back on things!
Nowadays in my family, sex isn't nearly as taboo a subject because, well, neither my sister nor I are really embarrassed anymore! My mother, sister, and I have had multiple really good conversations about various aspects of sexuality, both physical and emotional, and I think that's wonderful! There's absolutely no feeling of my mom "teaching" or "instructing" or the conversation in any way not being equal between us, because, well, it is equal! We're all just discussing something that is relevant and interesting to us, and although the three of us have had vastly different experiences in the matter, that doesn't change how we discuss things. It's a free sharing of ideas, opinions, and experiences, like all of our good conversations, and that's a wonderful thing. Also, my parents have never been advocates of "abstinence". The only thing they've been forceful about is safety. BE SAFE! Is the most my mom has ever said to me in terms of whether or not I "should" have sex. My parents trust that both my sister and I own our own bodies, respect ourselves, and know what we do or do not want to do with our bodies. I won't necessarily be happy (and haven't necessarily been happy) with every decision I make, but it's always MY decision and no one elses.
I actually find it rather amusing, if exasperating, that some people seem to think that un/homeschoolers will have inferior sex ed. knowledge, because my sister and I have actually been in the position of giving accurate info to schooled friends, who have very limited knowledge and a shit load of bad information! Our local high school doesn't even teach anatomy properly, because I know several guys who go to that school and have absolutely no grasp of female anatomy!
Alcohol consumption was never made into a big issue in my household, either. From the time I was young, I was always offered alcohol when my parents would have a glass of wine or similar. Neither of my parents are big drinkers, and I've never seen either of them drunk. Drinking alcohol was, and is, something consumed for the enjoyment of the drink, not to get drunk, in my family. I tried multiple different types of alcohol as they became available at different family functions and similar, decided what I liked and didn't like. And to this date, I have never been drunk. I've been slightly tipsy (emphasis on 'slightly') twice in my entire life. And honestly, I never plan on getting drunk. The thought does not appeal to me in the slightest, probably in large part because I really don't like being around people who are drunk. I have a strong sense of personal space, and one of the first thing people seem to lose when drinking is a sense of personal boundaries and other people's space. That, and I just find it gross!
In terms of drugs, I don't remember any "don't do drugs" type talk. I have a cutesy sticker stuck on my bookshelf in my room that says "Say Neigh to Drugs" with a picture of a horse, but I'm not even sure I knew what they were referring to when I got the sticker, and the main motivation in sticking it to my bookshelf was that I liked horses! :-P So really, my opinions on drugs have been formed by myself. And unsurprisingly if you've read my blog for any length of time, I do not believe that drugs should be illegal. I believe that every person has an absolute right to decide what they do or do not do to their bodies, as long as they don't infringe on another person's absolute right to do or not do whatever they want with their own bodies! It hasn't really been much of an issue so far, since neither my sister nor I have ever done drugs. However, I've made it clear to my mom at least (possibly both parents, but I'm not sure I've made it quite as clear to my dad, since he's more anti-drugs than my mother is) that I will try marijuana at some point. I don't feel it's something I need to keep absolutely secret. The reason I haven't yet, although I've certainly had the opportunity, is because there are several factors affecting my decision. I need to trust that what I'm taking into my body comes from a reliable source, and is not contaminated in any way, and I need to trust the people I'm with, because I want to be surrounded by people who will take care of me when my judgment is impaired. I'm not even that worried about what I'll do in terms of safety, because from what I've seen, marijuana doesn't really affect you to an extant that you're likely to do anything particularly dangerous, unless you're driving or similar. I just don't want to even do lesser things, embarrassing things, or anything I'll regret, really. The main thing is that before I'm willing to tamper with my state of consciousness, I want to feel that I'm in a comfortable and safe environment.
I think that's good for now. I may want to elaborate on some points in later posts, or talk about some points I've forgotten, but this will do for now. Also, I'd LOVE to hear from other unschoolers on how you handle the issues of sex and drugs. You can either leave your answer in the comments below, or write a whole post of your own on it! If you do decide to do a post, please leave the link in the comments, and I'll add them to a list at the bottom of this post. I actually decided to write this post after seeing a comment and her subsequent post on Michele's blog, so I'll start by adding that link!
Links to posts on sex and drugs on other unschooler's blogs:
Drugs...Sex...? by Michele of Natural Attachment
Sex, drugs, but no rock 'n roll....Sorry! by Stella of Not An Ordinary Teen
What's on a Teenager's Mind by Rochelle Blue of Penmanship of a Teenage Writer
The Talk and Other Things by Danya of Made of Carbon
Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll by Kaya of The Important Stuff (plus a few other things)