(Here’s the letter I wrote to my son in his birthday package. Among other gifts I sent him a book. The link is at the bottom. He’s working a summer job on the other side of the country right now. He’s still LDS and is attending BYU-Idaho this Fall)
Happy Birthday, son!
Since I won’t be taking you out for your first drink at 21, I decided I still needed to get you a gift that says, “I recognize your adulthood and I honor it” in some other way.
I hope you’ll read this explanation thoughtfully before you open what is obviously a book. You probably don’t want to open it in front of your friends…maybe you do. Just read this first.
I’ve researched and asked around and this book comes highly recommended by at least one well-respected LDS marriage and family therapist. It has been adopted as a textbook in several universities for those who are studying marriage and family therapy like you want to.
It’s about sex.
Now, before you open it, roll your eyes at your crazy dad and throw it into the bottom of your suitcase thinking “it’s not something I need yet,” I hope you’ll at least peruse certain chapters when you have the time alone. It’s not necessarily meant to be read cover to cover in one sitting but to be kept as a resource. It uses frank language. It doesn’t shy away from any topics, and you certainly don’t need to be afraid or shy about reading it now that you are an adult man.
In spite of the rather provocative cover and the title, it’s not pornographic, nor is it meant to encourage you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with at this point in time. But as a man, one day your body and sex with a loving partner is going to be a major part of your life. You should be comfortable talking about it and learning about it. I promise you that you don’t already know everything in this book.
It’s funny because there’s a weird paradox that happens with sex. The more you fear it or think it can’t be discussed openly and honestly or that it’s shameful or sinful the more obsessed with it you become. I’ve never seen any group of more sex-obsessed people than my fellow students at BYU. Even in marriage, the more hush-hush and the more “no” that happens in the bedroom the more it will overpower you. Repression breeds obsession.
But when you respect the significant place it does and SHOULD hold in your own life and in your partnership, the more it will comfortably couch itself softly in the background of your life and allow you to live a content, happy, fun and energetic life. I want that for you.
In other words, it’s not everything, but without it everything seems out of whack.
Sex is a gift. Once you start having it regularly with someone you love, a switch will turn on and it will become an enormously important part of your life. Regardless of what you are doing or not doing right now, your body is shouting at you to turn that switch on. And when you do it is amazingly wonderful!
Many people live in frustration because they are afraid of their own bodies or misunderstand them. Or, they misunderstand the bodies of their partner. That’s a cocktail for an unhappy relationship, an unhappy marriage and a mediocre existence. I don’t want you in any way to miss out on the beauty, the fun, the intensity and the intimacy of sex throughout your adult life. You were created with sex to be an integral part of who you are as a man.
Any parent/child relationship gets weird when discussing sex, I respect that. I’m not giving this to you because I’m afraid or shying away from talking to you about these things myself. I’m always willing to talk. I’m hoping that you’ll come to me for opinions or advice at any time. But whether it’s because I’m gay, or because I’m no longer LDS I feel like you think I might not understand, or that I am so bad at it that I couldn’t make it work. LOL
Parenting advice always says you should answer a kid’s sex questions, but not give them more than they are asking for. I think I’ve done that but I may have left out some important talks about sex because I feel like there’s more to say than I’ve said. There’s more to say than you’ve thought about asking. Even if sex is only conceptual at this point for you, you are an adult man and there are things you should know now and not wait only until weeks or days before you get married. School, church, church leaders, the internet or just talking among your friends isn’t good enough. Getting advice from people who have their own awkward relationship to sex isn’t helpful either, which is why I wanted to give you something more.
So, that’s why I’m giving you this book in celebration of the absolute privilege that was mine 21 years and 9 months ago to do my part in creating you. It was fun. It was beautiful. It most certainly has been the foundation for a thrilling roller-coaster of a ride in life in being your dad. And it all started with sex.
I love you!