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)
Yay idzie! Your blog looks good.ReplyDelete
I learned about sex in almost exactly the same way. I guess I asked my dad how it worked when I was about eight and he told me about sperm fertilizing eggs, and then later I think that was elaborated on by my mom when I asked. Then I read zillions of books! But I never really went through an embarrassed phase. My thoughts about drugs and alcohol are very similar too.
Awesome post. I'm trying to write one, but my mind is not working today, so maybe tomorrow it'll get published? Our parents seem to have very similer views on....everything. Especially alcohol.ReplyDelete
my parents and I have a weird realtionship about stuff like that.ReplyDelete
drugs and alcohol wise my dad's where I get all my information. He's super about about how he used to do really hard drugs and get wasted. And he has told me all about safety etc. Whereas my mother, who I know has done all the same drugs, basicially refuses to speak about it ever.
sex wise, they didn't do much. It's funny about you say you wondered how your mother god pregnant, when she had my brother I was 5 1/2 and never asked once! haha.
But we had a very mini talk about periods when I was about 11 and that's it. Now she really doesn't like to talke about it and buys me a book or tells me to google it. Which is something that annoys me a lot.
well, that sort of became a novel.
amazing post. I'm going to write one of my own, and I'll be sure to leave the link when it I post it =]ReplyDelete
and I think it's quite awesome that you, your sister and your mum can have open, free conversations about sexuality.
we would have them too, but sister's going through that awkward phase where everything mentioned in that category is embarrassing =P
Hi! Its funny, I stumbled upon two of your blogs at different times and only realized much later it was the same person! I was searching for unschooler's blogs, as I have been an unschooler all my life, and I really like yours!ReplyDelete
I feel when parents aren't comfortable and talk with their kids as a friend on these very human topics, kids are easily prone to be influenced by peers or the media...
Anyway, as a response, my parents explained about sex very simply, from time to time, and I used to never feel embarrassed to ask either of them about anything. I also read novels showing the romantic and love-making aspect of sex, which some people experience and others miss out on. I've tasted alcohol at different times, but only out of curiosity. I still don't really like its taste :( And I'm sure I won't like drugs either... even though I would try a bit for experimentation sake.
Awesome post, Idzie!
So I wrote an epic two page response, then clicked post comment, only to be told I had to be logged into wordpress to do that, and now my response is poofed.ReplyDelete
Great blog post, it got me thinking back on various things.
maybe I'll re-write my comment in MS word later. :P
Well, since you asked what other unschoolers thought...ReplyDelete
I'll start with sex ed.
Basically, I got my hands on a basic sexual education book at age 10 or so, shortly after I'd learned to read. I also had a computer, curiousity, and knew how to get on and use google.(or it might have been some other search engine, dunno)
And the rest of my sex ed, so to speak, pretty much took care of itself.
I learned most of the more useful and accurate details much later through from a really nifty site called scarleteen.com.
My parents have pretty much trusted my judgement as far as all matters of sex/sex ed go. And while it's come up in conversation before, I've never actually had 'the talk'.
Also, I'm pretty sure that I knew more and sooner, and more accurately then most or any of my schooled friends.
Now as for drugs and alcohol... When I was younger I'd get to have a sip of beer/wine once in a while, and I had thought I 'might as well' try out drinking/smoking(and pot/MJ in my later younger years) at least once for the sake of curiousity. However, in the last year or three I've become pretty much completely anti-drug/alcohol/smoking. Mostly on the personal/moral value side of things. (eg. I don't believe in/like the idea of getting drunk or otherwise impairing my judgement or doing things physically harmful to my body/health&fitness).
Outside of myself, I'm very anti-smoking and anti-alcohol.
1)For smoking, because that shit will kill you.
2)For alcohol, because that shit will kill other people.
Although beer and wine do taste pretty good, and are safe in extreme moderation, they are rarely used in this context, and I'm a big fan of drinking water. ^_^
And ciggarettes have no value what-so-ever. They are just addictive, their isn't any other reason to smoke(ciggarettes).
As for drugs, I've got less of an opinion of them, because their less popular. Though I would say, that from my knowledge pot/MJ isn't nearly as bad as smoking or drinking, I am very much against the idea of it, especially because it is used so frequently among people that are underage. But I understand the 'might as well try it' mentality with that much more so then with getting drunk, or smoking, since it has fewer potential first time side effects (eg. death with getting drunk, and with smoking well, it's not even pleasen't and it is possible to be addicted after just one, however unlikely, so I think it's just stupid to try).
Most of my changed views are due to my recently becoming a very "woot be healthy rah rah" kind of health-freak anti-soda pro-water hardcoreness kind of person. Sports and physical fitness are awesome too.
Just don't mistake my stuborn rock solid 'this is how I see it' views for closed mindedness, I am in fact very open minded, and often change my view point when new information persents itself.
ok, heck yeah! I got my comment back... well you can just delete my two unnecessary posts if you feel like it. :oReplyDelete
It's me Kaya. I commented on a few of your posts awhile ago and I follow your blog. BTW, I love it. You're really a pretty good writer. I wrote a post (albeit a bit unorthodox a post) on this subject at http://kaya-kirks.blogspot.com/2009/09/sex-drugs-rock-n-roll.html
Thanks for the great idea and the continuos inspiration to do things the non mainstream way. :)
Thank you for sharing your insight and perspective. It seems that the people who are truly alive, whole and healthy often grew up with the freedom to make mistakes, freedom to explore and experiment and question. They were also given the information to make informed decisions, or the information was at least not hidden from them. For example Bjork said she grew up with hippies. I think that may have been an important part to her developing into a really whole and independent person. A song of hers that reminds me of unschooling and anarchy/freedom is Sweet Intuition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DckUcyCuzjk&fmt=18.ReplyDelete