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Dear Todd Parker (11/30/2016)

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Dear Todd Parker,

When my kid was born, I was convinced that I would be a terrible father. I figured that I was an irresponsible punk; how was I going to raise a decent human being. Only it turns out that I'm pretty good at it. My wife and I have had a pretty good run of it.

But now the moment I've been dreading has arrived.

My son is 12 years old. I wouldn't say that my wife and I have sheltered him, but he's still a bit nave about certain things. Apparently, he has been hearing some of his friends talking about stuff that is a bit sexual in nature. Nothing graphic or anything like that, just standard curiosity. While my son hasn't really joined in any of these conversations, he has brought them up to me a couple of times. I think he feels left out and really wants to figure out what's going on.

So I've decided to have 'the talk' with him. I'd rather he get some sort of informational foundation before he starts hearing all the weird conspiracy theory-type stuff that kids that age spout when it comes to sex. Unfortunately, I never actually got the birds/bees stuff myself, so I have no clue as to how this is supposed to go. I'm working without a net and I'm terrified that I'm going to tell him something that warps him somehow.

With all the crap out there on the internet, I have no idea how to give him reasonable ideas and expectations about sex. How am I supposed to impart the importance and gravity of the act considering what 10 minutes of unsupervised computer time can do?

What do I do?

Terrified in Brewer

Dear Terrified,

Are you sure you're in the right place?

All kidding aside, the first thing you need to know is that you aren't alone. Every father in the history of fatherhood has wrestled with this very same issue. And every dad deals with it in his own way. Some are like your old man; they're unable to cope with the concept and so they ignore it and hope for the best. That's not ideal. Not to dump on your pops lots of men of that generation adopted the same tactic.

But you've got a fine line to walk here. Kids today are growing up in a different world far different from the one in which you and I did. While monitoring your boy's computer time will help, you have to take into account that at least one of his degenerate little friends lives in an unsupervised world. So if your kid has managed to avoid getting too much confused filth poured into his brain, you still have a chance to head things off at the pass.

With all of that out there, you can't do too much of the cheeseball birds and bees stuff. Going too clinical or too cutesy is going to fall flat. The simple truth and you're not going to like it is that you're going to have to be, wellhonest.

You're going to have to be upfront about things. You can't use euphemisms as a crutch. You can't beat around the bush (sorry, just had to). You have to tell the boy about love and about respect, but you also can't pretend that all that lurid crap isn't out there. Even in regular broadcast TV and movies, sexual situations are abundant. All you can do is do your best to give sincere and genuine answers to his questions.

You'll do better than you think. Kids are resilient; you'll have to really blow it to do any lasting damage.

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