This week I began teaching my second summer school course: Sex, Sexuality and Sex Education. Yesterday was the first day of the four days that we will meet and an interesting mix of people showed up from around Southern Ontario. We always begin that course with an introductory exercise.
Everyone gets a sheet of paper titled 'Find Someone Who' and then a list of 16 descriptors of people. Things like 'drove more than 20 miles to get here today' or 'can identify 5 parts of the male or female genitalia' and 'was told the facts of life by parents'. It's a fun way to mix people up, get them talking and really break the ice. We are going to spend 4 days together talking about sexuality, so we might as well begin to get comfortable with each other.
15 minutes after the exercise began and people were finding their seats again, I asked them which one was the hardest to find signatures for. "Told facts of life by parents" several called out. I then asked how many were indeed told the facts of life by parents. 4 hands went up in a room with more than 30 people in it. Not only that, these are people who are significantly younger than me. A generation different at least.
It's almost abnormal for us 'typicals' to be given sex education by parents. Yet I hear so often complaints by staff regarding the reluctance of parents with kids with disabilities to talk to thier kids about sex. They shake their heads and make the assumption that these damn parents are failing yet again in their duties to parent their kids. Further, they assume that the parents, by their reluctance to talk to their kids about sex are naturally opposed to the whole idea.
Why is it that we demand of people with disabilities what we don't demand of our selves? Made beds. Healthy diet. Cheerful attitude at all times. The list is endless.
But why too, do we demand of parents of kids with disabilities, what we do not expect from our own parents, or of ourselves when we parent? Why do we reserve our harshest judgements for moms and dads who are constantly tired from battles that most other parents never have to think of fighting - the right for their kid to go to school with others. Life's tough enough without the 'attitude' they get from staff whose expectation of those parents goes beyond reasonable and into the absurd.
A realistic view of what it is to be a parent will take us a long way I believe.
It's normal for parents to cease up at the idea of talking sex with their kids.
It's normal for kids to be horrified at the idea of talking sex with their parents.
Just as long at the job gets done, we're all cool.
Less blame, more action - please.