Don’t send your adult child off on their wedding night without an updated birds and bees talk.
It’s a pre-wedding to-do list for parents that has nothing to do with reception details or RSVPs.
We know the birds and bees isn’t a one-and-done conversation. But there is a cut-off… right? Not so fast, says Studio 5 Contributor Dr. Liz Hale.
The Birds and Bees Talk for Adult Children
It’s that time of year. Spring and love is in the air as many young couples prepare for their upcoming summer weddings. Adult couples and their parents have so much to discuss in the way of a wedding venue, guest list, a budget, and sex (Insert record scratch!) Say what?!
It’s a highly important conversation to have and parents don’t have to have all the answers. That’s what experts are for but more importantly, the goal for parents is “do no harm.”
What is often the most common advice young people get from their loved ones just prior to their wedding night? “You’ll figure it out.” And THAT leaves a lot to be desired. We can and must do so much better.
Parents have a responsibility to equip their children with correct information on how to establish a healthy, committed sexual life. Whether your adult children have decided to save their first sexual experience for marriage or not, it’s not too early and it’s often not too late to share true principles. Chances are even our sexually experienced adult children have misconceptions about what is healthy sexual intimacy.
Correct & Clarify
Arm adult children with correct information. Even if you don’t have the understandings of healthy sexuality, speak positively. You have talked to your children at other times when they were scared, bullied, didn’t make the football team or drill team, and you wanted to be sure to say and do the right thing. You wanted to offer them something true and powerful to help them overcome life’s hurts and be as successful in life as possible. This area is no different.
What have your messages been about sex leading up to this point? If you don’t know how you’ve come across, ask your adult child? Please admit if you have not been positive about the topic of your child becoming a sexual being. Perhaps you erroneously believed that talking about sexuality would lead to their promiscuity. Perhaps you’ve instilled a fear that sexual intimacy will be painful and scary. You still have a fair amount of power in establishing a healthier perspective. As you know better, you can do better. Apologize for your inaccurate and unappealing messages about sexuality. Express that you want better for them and help them achieve that clarity by pointing them in the right direction.
Keep your own sex life private. Share information but do not expose your partner; your children certainly don’t want to know about your sex life, I promise!
Provide Expert Resources
While we don’t have to be a human sexuality expert, we can turn our adult children towards those who are. Currently, my favorite person and site to tell my engaged nieces & nephews & other couples about is Stacy Goulding’s True Intimacy Course (www.trueintimacyclass.com).
It’s the sex talk you never had. Stacy offers an online hour-and-a-half comprehensive, healthy sexual intimacy class which is often not taught in conservative communities. It’s a gift to last a lifetime!
While True Intimacy was established specifically for couples with little to no sexual experience (especially for those who are of a Christian theology/members of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints) it is for anyone who wants a healthier understanding of sexual marital intimacy. Stacy covers all the key areas from flipping the switch from no-to-go, to the how-to’s of sexual intimacy, to maintaining effective communication regarding sexual pleasure and consent.
It will be a class you will watch over and over again to deepen your conversations as a couple. When I tell more of my seasoned therapy couples about the True Intimacy course, encouraging them to share it with their adult children who are about to marry, they all say roughly the same thing: “Where was this when WE were getting married. We could have avoided a lot of painful pitfalls.”
Encourage Family Planning Conversations
Some younger adult children are still on their parents’ healthcare plan so that gives you a simple introduction of encouraging your daughter to visit with a gynecologist.
If your couple-to-be is interested in some sort of hormonal birth control, start early; even several months prior to the wedding to determine if a birth control pill is a good fit. If your daughter experiences extreme moodiness or is just not feeling herself, encourage her to go back in and change to a different hormone pill or different style of birth control, like an IUD or diaphragm, or others.
Some girls have never used tampons for their periods while others use very slim tampons. Those are significantly smaller than the average size of a man’s erect penis so help her prepare to make that experience more comfortable by visiting with a gynecologist. Another way to assist this process is to encourage your daughter to practice with tampons that are one size up.
What are we trying to avoid with all these efforts? We are trying to avoid setting in motion a negative feedback loop that says sex means pain. Comfort is key.
Promote Healthy (Low) Expectations
Men and women are created so differently. Those differences can lead to frustration on a wedding night or honeymoon or even throughout the course of marriage if not better understood.
Think of the wedding day itself. It is a busy day with such a high of social stimulation and emotion. Teach your adult children to lower their expectations. Encourage them to have a calm, enjoyable night. I often encourage couples in premarital therapy to not even plan to have sexual intercourse that first night. They can turn to touching and massaging and even use the dial method that many couples utilize in early marriage.
Depending on how comfortable you are talking to your adult children, here is some factual information to share:
Orgasms are trickier for women. Men have orgasms after 2-5 minutes of sexual intimacy, 90 % of the time. While women have orgasms after 20 minutes or more and only orgasm 50% of the time.
There is always tomorrow and the next day and the rest of their lives to practice and enjoy making love.
Give your children permission to keep a sense of humor. Sex can be awkward – partners are tripping over each other and maybe someone passes gas. It’s completely fine. This is your best friend and favorite human being in the whole world you are doing this with so keep it lighthearted and stress-free. It can be fun and enjoyable.
Teach your adult children that lubrication and a slow process are key. Find a quality, natural lubricant that is paraben- and glycerin-free, to avoid yeast infections and skin irritation. Teach your daughter how to avoid getting a UTI by going to the bathroom to urinate after intercourse (that urethra opening is so close to the opening to the vagina and is ripe for infections.) Moist wipes can also be a benefit to keeping that tender area clean.
Consent Is Not A Constant
Teach your adult children that just because they are married doesn’t mean they have a consistent green light to the body of their spouse. MANY people make this mistake. Many men make this mistake and women follow because we are not teaching them that healthy sexuality is for BOTH of them. Every person has the right to say yes or no. The goal is for both partners to enjoy the purpose of sexual intimacy which is to bond and bind us as bodies and souls. It’s for pleasure and comforting connection.
Teach your sons and daughters that it’s not the wife’s job to please the husband. That is a false, unnormal, unhealthy expectation. Both partners need to express their desires and what pleases them when they’re together. Our bodies and preferences change with hormones and circumstances. This is never a one and done conversation.
Sexual intimacy is for both partners. BOTH must voice their desires and preferences. It’s a beautiful aspect of marriage and something they (and all couples) were designed to enjoy.