..And Moving Right Along...

As prepared as you think you may be, there are some things that just arrive unexpectedly and slap you upside the head.

Like coming home to discover your son's friend (and indirectly your son) has been Googling nude images of Avril Lavigne (watch my Google stats shoot through the roof! :) ) and sexual terms that even you don't know, and thus have to go Google yourself to find out about.

This at age 12 (the friend) and 13 (the kid). Eish!

Now, I've been keeping up with what I thought was appropriate sex education. We talked Masturbation and Oral Sex during a two-hour power failure on Thursday night - the kid had heard the terms, but didn't know what it was. He's seen my nude art sites (beautiful photography that I find inspiring, done in a classy way) and such. But he didn't know a thing about what else is out there.

And now he does.

This morning I got up my courage and went to talk to his friend's very conservative mother, just to let her know what was going on, not to condemn the action or get the kid in trouble. Amazingly, it went better than expected. The friend has already been through the text-message chatroom stage (lying to 18 year old girls about his age and having rather explicit conversations), so this was not unexpected. He hangs out with a few older boys and seems more hormonally advanced than some kids older than him (like my son). It's obvious his curiosity is piqued and he's fascinated by what's out there. And after our conversation, it's also obvious he may need a bit more of a chat with his parents - or, even better, with a non-family member older male who he can look up to as a role model.

I'm trying to ensure my son has a few of those. But in this day and age it's not easy. Society is very disconnected, there's no extended family or close community where young boys learn from their elders how to be and move in the world. That's why books such as Steve Biddulph's "Manhood" have had such an impact. I've got his "Raising Boys" book, which has been a profound help in dealing with ages and stages, and explaining how boys are so very different from girls (and not just at equipment level). There seems to be a great hunger out there for male community and male company, not the beer-and-rugy type but the lasting and deep connections where men don't have to put on their strong, silent face.

My son doesn't yet know it, but he's going camping with his uncles next weekend. Spending time alone with men he respects is essential right now - and I think it will do the uncles good too (their sons will be that age before they know it).

I'm also glad to see my son interacting with my male friends in this community. Getting to just hang out around the occasional meal or mid-afternoon tea. Talking, seeing how they relate to others, learning how men handle themselves in relation to women and wives and kids. These things I cannot always teach him.

But back to the subject at hand. What to do about the internet issue?

My initial reaction was to put on the safest Google search setting I could find, and install some parental control programme. But I slept on the idea last night and came up with another way. One that will not provide a guilty curiosity about "banned" things, nor force my son to go behind my back to find things to look at that he hopes I won't know about.

I'm acutally going to show him those sites. I'm going to sit him down and show him what's out there, and then explain that many give a very skewed view of sex. I would prefer him not to go browsing some of the weirder sites, but rather to first learn the healthy and beautiful thing that sex is. Sure, he may develop the odd fetish later in life (as many do). I'm not going to encourage or discourage that now though. Information first. An openness about all things sex. I'm going to do my best to ensure he can talk to me about anything and everything, to be honest and transparent in what's in his head, to ask when he's confused.

It's not likely to be an easy journey. I'm going about this in a very non-conventional way, completely different from what my parents did. I'm hoping that it will have a positive impact on his future, and equip him to one day have a safe, easy and enjoyable sex life.

So sue me! :)