People Reveal How Their Parents Handled The "Sex Talk," And How It Affected Them As Adults

    "I asked to get birth control at 19, and my mom said, 'Okay, but I don’t ever want to talk about it.'"

    Note: This article contains mention of rape and sexual assault, which may be hard for some to read.

    Talking to your parents about sex can be awkward, but having an open and honest discussion is definitely easier than going into adulthood blind about all things sex-related.

    Multiple condoms

    Reddit user u/codependentweeb recently asked, "How did your parents talk about sex with you when you were younger, and how did that affect how you view(ed) it into adulthood and experienced it?" Here's a few memories:

    1. "When I was 5 or 6 years old, my dad bought me a book for kids about sex and how babies are made. It was a great book from what I remember. The pictures were hand-drawn, and my dad read them to me and explained the pictures. I wish I still had the book. When I was 25 years old, my mom tried to give me the sex talk. We looked at each other, and after a minute, she said something along the lines of: 'Guess you already know.' I replied, 'Yep…good talk.' Getting to know the basic mechanics of sex early on eased my mind on how things worked as I got older."


    2. "They didn’t. Now that I think about it, that might be why I have a hard time communicating about sex with partners."


    3. "My parents were open about sex growing up. My mom gave me the talk when I was 12 in our kitchen over dinner and told me I could ask her anything. I know for sure a question I asked right off the bat was, 'Do men have pubic hair?' I've asked her many random sexual questions over the years, and she's asked some of me as well, like, 'How does WLW sex work?'"

    A family dinner

    4. "My talk was just 'Don't do it.' It didn't really impact me. The abstinence talk is not effective."


    5. "I got the first talk at about 6 about babies; When I was 10, it was about periods (from school); and at 12/13, I learned more sex-specific stuff from my parents. My mum was a nurse/midwife before switching careers, and my dad is a GP/obstetrician, so the talks were open, honest, and educational. It’s mostly flipped with newer terms used and sexuality being more expressed. My parents ask us stuff like, 'What’s the difference between bisexual and pansexual?” or, 'What do you mean people have sex in portaloos at concerts?!' Come to think of it, it’s hard to not be able to talk about sex education with my parents. There’s just no shame around it."


    6. "My parents literally did not talk about it with me at all. It was assumed that if they didn’t talk about it, I wouldn’t do it or find out about it, I guess. Or, they thought I was 'better' than that. When I did end up having sex, my mother found out about it months later, guilted me about having sex, and made me cry. After that, I hadn’t learned how to approach sex, anything about my body, etc., and was sexually assaulted the summer between high school and college. I got to college and saw casual sex as bad and seldom engaged in it. I finally got a boyfriend in college and learned to embrace my sexuality. We are no longer together, but after that, I explored a bit more with another sexual partner and was able to get over some trauma surrounding sex. Ironically enough, I now identify on the asexuality scale as demisexual, meaning that I only feel sexual attraction when there is an emotional connection to a person."

    A couple lays in bed together

    7. "They gave us kids a book on sex, and that was that. We just took turns reading it. I think my parents were embarrassed."


    8. "They were open about it. I knew about sex when I was 5 or 6, I think. It wasn't, like, constantly talked about or anything, but if I had questions, it wasn't shied away from. It was never a taboo, so it was never this mysterious thing when I was a teenager. It also meant I could openly ask my mom for help going on birth control when I started."


    9. "We didn’t, and now they’re confused why I don’t want to talk about grandchildren. Adopt a cat, Mom."


    10. "We were very open on the topic of sex in my house. It was never taboo and was spoken about freely (once we were an appropriate age for it to be discussed, early teens or so). We could ask any questions we wanted and were never shamed for asking them or hushed up. I was told not only how to be safe but also about healthy relationships and how things like communication with a partner is important when it comes to a good sexual relationship. I was also taught about the fact that setting boundaries is good and that I don’t have to do anything I don’t want in an interaction, and I don’t owe anyone anything and to be comfortable saying no, that it’s okay to do that.

    Parents talk to their child on a couch

    11. "They didn’t talk about it. My first sexual experience was when I was raped at 13 by a 21-year-old in my neighborhood. Then I got pregnant at 15 with my boyfriend. I ended up having a miscarriage. My view on it now is that kids are going to have sex. They will have sex everywhere and anywhere. Refusing to give them birth control and refusing to let them to hang out alone is fucking stupid. They will find a way around it. It’s MUCH better to have the talk and provide condoms and birth control.

    "I think when talking about sex it’s also important to talk about nonconsensual sex/rape. What happened to me was very confusing, and it took me years to actually realize it was rape. I wish my parents had talked to me about sex, consensual and not consensual, before either of those experiences happened."


    12. "They relied on public school sex-ed way too much. It sucked when I got my period because no one told me about them, and this was before I had sex-ed classes. My mom didn't even tell me why I was having a period; she just gave me a pad, and we went about our day. We don't talk about sex, even in adulthood, EVER. I envy people with parents who are open about it."

    A teacher writes about sex education on a chalkboard

    13. "I grew up Southern Baptist; there were lots of abstinence talks at church and some with my mom. Our church didn’t do the purity pledge things, but the underlying toxic messages were the same. My mom told me that she and my dad waited until marriage, but strangely said, 'I guess it would have been okay to do it when we were engaged.' My dad told us mildly dirty jokes once we reached about 15, but we got no serious talks. I asked to get birth control at 19, and my mom was flustered. She said, 'Okay, but I don’t ever want to talk about it.' Then took me to a GYN who was a member of the church and gave me a dose of guilt along with the prescription. I had difficulty getting out of my head enough to fully engage in sex in my first marriage, and almost never initiated. I enjoyed sex, but feeling sexy and having desires or fantasies were still as guilt-ridden as prior to marriage."

    Church pews

    14. "My parents were a little too open about it, and it affected me greatly, I believe. They would go into details about their own sex lives, and it was just unnecessary information I never needed to know."


    15. "The only sex talk we got was that if we got pregnant as teenagers, we were out of the house."


    16. "They never taught me that and were uncomfortable talking about it. We had to share one computer, and there was a sexual education website for children which I frequently visited. My brother saw it in my internet history, called me out for watching dirty websites, and put a child filter on the computer. I’ve had no fucking privacy at all."

    An older desktop computer

    17. "I grew up in a strict religious household, and I was sent on a True Love Waits retreat when I was 8 years old. I had to sign a contract saying that I would save myself for marriage. I was 8. This warped my view of sex for so long that I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 30 because everything I knew about sex was rooted in fear and shame."


    18. "I got the sex talk twice: once from my brother and a second time from mom. My brother explained it to me first when I was 6 years old and he was 11 at the time. He actually used all the right medical terms and explained it to me in a very clinical process kind of way. So I definitely understood how it biologically happened. I knew it was something that my parents did, and it was how my siblings and I came to be. However, because I was first explained the concept and procedure of intercourse (his words not mine) in a very medical way, I never understood the passion or intimacy or romance, or overall how rewarding sex can be with someone you love and who loves you. I grew up thinking that it was a natural but mundane thing. Fast forward to my mom's horror story. My parents have a less than good marriage, and she said it was painful, taxing, and not something that women can enjoy."

    Two hands folded on a table

    19. "To this day, my parents have never talked to me about sex. I learned about it on my own and didn’t attach a lot of importance to it. My first experience with it was very 'meh' throughout the whole relationship."


    20. "My parents didn't talk about it. When I was a kid, around 7 or 8, I had just started learning astrology, and I looked everywhere I could to find more info. I accidentally stumbled upon pictures of a porn video; my curiosity got the best of me, and I watched a little snippet of the video, and I was like, 'Oh, so this is how they do it.' And it didn't traumatize me at all. I went up to my grandma, who has a medical degree, and I asked her about it. At first, she seemed a little surprised and asked me to show her the video. I did, and she briefly explained most of it. Now, I'm happy I got that explanation as a kid and now I know what to do. But, in school, sex-ed education helped...a little."


    21. "They didn't, and if they did, it was extremely frowned upon. I was a bit of a late bloomer, and I still feel weird about masturbation."


    22. "I found out when I was 13 years old when my brother asked my mom how babies were made. I never 'found out about it,' or thought about it beforehand. Honestly, my initial reaction was questioning if this is really what happens and thinking, 'Oh, gross.' I am still not particularly interested in sex. There are so many other fun things I would rather be doing."


    23. "I just got the 'Babies come from mommies and daddies.' Then, nothing else. I got the next small chunk from schools (elementary then high school), and the rest came from my own research because I was massively dissatisfied with what I received. They really didn’t want to inform us out of fear of us running out and just screwing with helpless abandon. It, of course, had the opposite effect, and the lack of knowledge got so many girls pregnant. My over-saturation of information took sex out of the mystery and away from the taboo. It didn’t make it disgusting or undeniably appealing either. It just became, or rather remained, a thing I thankfully never had to engage in. That was one of the things I was thankful for: discovering that you don’t actually have to engage in it at all and live a full life. I owe this credit to discovering old virgin nuns. Thank you, ladies, you have my eternal gratitude."


    24. "My mom just told me horror stories about perverts and predators. She made sure I covered up and behaved like a 'lady.' I grew up desirable, but too afraid to develop my sexuality. Sex with my current partner is the first time I've felt comfortable, and I'm slowly healing my insecurities and past trauma."

    A man kisses a woman while laying in bed

    25. "They didn’t. I come from a Middle Eastern country where talking about sex is taboo. I didn’t learn about sex until I moved to a western country and started school where they taught us sex education. When I found out, I was very shocked and was convinced that my parents didn’t have sex to make my siblings and I. I remember very clearly saying to my teacher at 11 years old, 'I don’t think that’s how my mom and dad did it.' It was a lot to take in."


    26. "I got no talk and learned sex-ed at school. I ended up okay; I think I have a healthy view, and my sex life is satisfying. That being said, I do have anxiety about how to talk to my kids about it when the time comes. The role model I had was embarrassment over openness."


    27. "They didn't, at all, ever. I got pregnant when I was 19."


    28. "I saw porn and stuff way before my parents thought it was time to 'talk' to me, but when they did, my mom stressed consent, no means no, and to always respect myself and listen to the little voice in my head. My dad talked later when I was in high school and basically said, 'You're gonna do what kids do, but don't do anything you don't want to, and don't get pregnant.' Between the two of them, I think they did okay."


    29. "When I was 18, I came home one day after college, and there was a condom on my desk. That was the talk. That was definitely more than I would ever want from them."


    How did your parents give you "the talk"? If you're feeling brave, let me know in the comments!

    If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE, which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here.