If my parents won’t, can I give “the talk” to my younger sibling? Margo Howard’s advice
Sex Ed for a Younger Sibling
Dear Margo: My sister is 10 years old and in the fifth grade. Recently, her health class was divided up by gender, and the boys and girls were separately taught a unit about the changes their bodies would undergo during puberty. My sister was telling me about this the last time I was home from college, and I asked whether she had learned about reproduction. She replied no, that she had only learned about getting her period. Then, quite nonchalantly I thought, she said, “I’ll probably learn about it (reproduction) from my friends.”
When I was her age, I learned about sex from a children’s book. My school system — the same one where she is enrolled — did not teach any lessons about reproduction until high school biology, and our parents never gave me a “talk” of any sort except to tell me to abstain. I worry that waiting for her to learn about sex from her friends is not the best way to handle that situation.
My sister is rather precocious and mature for her age. Given this, I wonder whether it might be better for me to educate her about sex myself. (I am 19 and have been safely sexually active since I was 17.) I want to let her know she can come to me with any questions she might have. I feel my parents would not be supportive of my doing this, but I don’t think they plan to talk to her about it themselves. What do you think is the best option here? — Pondering in Pittsford
Dear Pond: As the big sister, who sounds very thoughtful, I would affirm your doing a bare-bones explanation of reproduction now since you say her school system does not get into this until high school, which for your sister is three years away. I suspect her guess is correct that the other kids will “teach” that subject, so better that you do it. I would’ve said run this by your mother, but because you seem to know that she wouldn’t encourage your approach, skip that. In fact, your parents’ avoidance of the larger subject convinces me that you are right. And what could be more comfortable than an attentive big sister? — Margo, educationally
Good Hands, Big Mouth
Dear Margo: I get regular massages from a man who has the hands of a god. He is by far the best massage therapist I’ve ever had. My problem is that he talks too much. He likes to talk about his kids and his ongoing divorce battles. I don’t mind chatting a bit, but it has gotten to the point that I am not enjoying what should be a very pleasurable time. To be fair, I think I promoted his chatting by asking about his family and commenting back. But I really want to stop it now. Can you help me come up with a kind and gentle way of saying, “Please, let me just relax”? — Want To Get It My Way
Dear Want: Because you made the mistake of making conversation in the first place, he followed your lead. Most masseurs do. Had you been silent from the get-go, I’m betting he would have taken your cue. Now it’s up to you to change the routine. I think you can do that gracefully by saying, “Sam, your work is so superior to anyone else’s that I’ve decided to get the full benefit by relaxing and meditating. I’ve decided this is the one place where I can be silent and just feel pampered.” If he’s really dense, repeat your wishes. — Margo, peacefully
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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at www.creators.com/dear-margo.html. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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