Saving the World One Teen at a Time - Column on Parenting Tweens and Teens

Losing It.

by Kristy Campbell


Be warned. There is going to come a day in your parenting career when you will open your mouth to give advice to your kids and nothing will come out. The lack of words is usually because you aren’t sure what to say or you simply don’t want to say it. My own speechlessness often occurs in response to the not-in-the-book sex questions or the drug and alcohol queries about my past adventures. I personally don’t agree with the “come clean and tell-all” approach being talked about in some parenting circles, since a question asked by a tween has a very different context than that same question posed by a teen. Take sex, for example.


Last week, I had the opportunity to hear Ayelet Waldman speak and offer up her opinions on teen sex. I’m still spinning.


You may remember Waldman as the woman that set mommy groups on fire with her comment that she loved her husband more than her kids in an article she wrote for the New York Times back in 2005. She had a quick rise to fame alienating many moms across America as she continued to share that her still-passionate married sex life took precedence over her 4 kids. I vaguely remembered this controversy when I was invited to a fundraiser for a health center in San Francisco that serves teens. Ayelet Waldman was to be the guest speaker and I looked forward to hearing from her. I’d never read any of her writings -- I guess I was too busy raising 5 kids while enjoying my perfectly average sex life.


As Waldman began to read a chapter from her book about her teen sex life, I could feel myself getting uncomfortable. She shared with the crowded room how she lost her virginity at 14 to an Israeli soldier while living on a kibbutz. She explained that as she moved through her teen years, she was quite promiscuous. She said it wasn’t until her 20’s that she made a pact with herself never to have sex again with someone she didn’t really like. Shortly thereafter, she met her husband and began her career as a Bad Mother. By the time she opened up the conversation to questions, my head was spinning. One particular question stood out for me.

Have You Told Your Children About Your Sexual Experiences?

To paraphrase, she said that not only has she shared her sexual history with her children, but she also has a box of condoms open and available in her bathroom and hopes that when her kids are ready, they will have sex in their bedrooms and not sneak around in a car (her oldest is now 15).


I looked around the room to see if anyone else disagreed.



Great article, Kristy.
Once in a while, I'd remind my husband that i love my kids more than him.


This is interesting. Luckily my kids aren't at the age where they are asking about sex yet. I recently posted on about how my youngest in very concerned about people dying and God, not being a very religious person I am really struggling with this.


Well written article. I believe letting your teen know that they can come to you with any problem or question, even if the question deals with sexuality, is very important. But, I also believe that until the teen becomes older - (17, 18) they don't need to know the parents entire history because they will use it against you. Teens are good at that - "Well, you did it, why can't I"?


This is a great article. I just read on the twittermoms site that your received an insult writing this post by Ayelet Waldman. Each writer/blogger is entitled to their own opinion-and you expressed yours tactfully. No mommy is perfect and I very well agree that we should be open with our children, but there is a fine line there. I think she definitely crossed that line when she began sharing her sexual history with her young children as well as leaving a box of condoms for them. That's using poor judgment on her part and essentially she's giving her children the go-ahead for walking in her footsteps of promiscuity. Very disturbing indeed. Sounds like you did a great job having "the talk" with your daughter. There's always a time and a place. You are a great writer with her head screwed on right!


I like your honesty.
It's hard to find common ground with parents who lie to their kids when asked about post-adolescent experiences.
How can you expect your child to be truthful if you aren't?
And if you don't want to supply an honest answer simply say, "I'm not ready to talk to you about that now."