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Just a Guy Having the Sex Talk (with His Kids)

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I remember when my dad had the "talk" with me.

father and son talking

Bruce Sallan: It was at a BBQ joint with sawdust on the floor. He talked mostly in euphemisms and I didn't really understand much at all. Not a great beginning, as I fumbled along for years to come.

However, I was determined to handle things differently with my boys and, as luck and coincidence had it, I ended up having "the talk" with each boy in the past few months. I'd sort of had it with my older one before, but he'd gotten a girlfriend and I had to be sure he understood the rules, obligations, and risks. So, we had a second talk, so I could be confident he knew the basics.

With my youngest, it occurred spontaneously the other evening at a crowded Japanese restaurant. It was amazing how little he understood or knew from school. For instance, he thought a woman could get pregnant any time of the month.

Also, he had little knowledge of the emotional consequences and differences that sex has on boys and girls, men and women. To me, that is as important as understanding the physical risks of STDs or pregnancy. My older one didn't have a clue about that either.

What was great was that we had this talk completely in Japanese while at the Japanese restaurant. Kidding. No, what was great was how he paid attention, asked questions, making this that sort of cherished dad-son moment that makes parenting worthwhile. It was also funny how much he "shushed" me. But, what do I really know? I'm just a guy.

next: Halloween Tricks
17 comments so far | Post a comment now
sheyanne November 1, 2009, 6:55 AM

o my i do not look forward to this talk!! lol

Denise November 1, 2009, 7:32 AM

Bruce - my son is just 7. Would you please handle this for me?

Miranda November 1, 2009, 8:13 AM

Bruce, I like your article, but I have to correct one point: a woman, especially a young one, CAN theoretically get pregnant at any time of the month. Sometimes younger women with sporadic periods mistake bleeding during ovulation for an actual period. Sorry, I just had to throw my two cents in.
Props to you, though for giving the sex talk to your kids. My father in law waited until my husband was 21 (long after he started having sex) to give him “the talk”.

Bruce Sallan November 1, 2009, 8:47 AM


C’mon - I was speaking in generalities and we all know that most women are fertile only those few days a month. But, protection ANY time is really what we both want to say, so thank you for the two cents (I’ll give you a dime for it) and thanks for taking the effort to comment. Take a look at my last blog; I’d love your two cents there, as it stirred up some strong feelings, clearly. Which I like.

Arnie  November 1, 2009, 10:19 AM

i find that whole story pretty funny . Him shushing you.

Jasmine November 1, 2009, 5:29 PM


This was a really cute article and kudos to you for having “the talk” with your sons. But Miranda was absolutely right when she said that a woman can get pregnant ANY time of the month. Sperm can live inside of the fallopian tubes for up to 72 hours and ovulation (esp. in a young girl as Miranda mentioned) doesn’t always happen in 28 days. You are right that in the majority of women there are only a few days a month when she can get pregnant. But there is a significant number of women and girls that are fertile at different times each month.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I just wanted to clarify what Miranda said.

cora November 2, 2009, 9:15 AM

Wow, Bruce, your son knows more than you do, apparently. A woman can get pregnant any time of the month. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that your sons are getting comprehensive sex ed at school.

Bruce Sallan November 2, 2009, 10:15 AM

Well, Cora, I still beg to differ. The odds of a woman getting pregnant ANY time of the month are very long. Ask any couple trying to get pregnant and they know very well there are opportune moments. That’s also why they have ovulating kits out there so women know when they can maximize their chances. That said, I’m all for safe sex or abstinence. One doesn’t negate the other. As for sex ed in school, I’m against it as the agendas brought to bear aren’t in line with my desires for what my kids are exposed to and indoctrinated with. Thanks for writing and we’ll see how others respond. I’m sure you will have an opinion on my previous post which garnered quite a debate. Please go for it!

aaron November 2, 2009, 12:14 PM

That was pretty funny as I was shushing u. YOU WERE PRACTICLY SHOUTING!!!

Esther November 2, 2009, 8:32 PM

Some women can get pregnant at unpredictable times of the month. Don’t try to win this argument, just get back to your kids, and let them know that YOU CAN NEVER BE COMPLETELY SURE WHEN A WOMAN IS FERTILE.

Anita (England) November 3, 2009, 3:22 AM

I have to say, you are a brave man! And good on ya for trying. Most English Dads won’t go there when it comes to the sex education talk, and happily leave it for us Mums to do. Mainly, because sons scream and run from the room if they even try. Apparently, no one over the age of thirty has sex – ooh, too disgusting to even think about – and Mum and Dad definitely don’t – ooh, heavens forbid! Instead, English boys much prefer to talk ‘openly’ with a female friend (if not their mum), who has had the ‘chat’ already with her mum. Personally, I find the whole conceiving thing amusing, giving that after the initial impact it takes up to three days for the explosion to hit before you find yourself pregnant – while standing at a checkout paying for shopping…!

Stephanie November 4, 2009, 4:19 AM

Great blog! I applaud you for taking the bull by the horns when it came to talking to your sons about sex. My mom NEVER talked to me about the birds and the bees. The information I got was from sex ed classes (entitled “Family Life”) at my Catholic school. You can guess how informative THAT was… yeah, super lame. Later, Seventeen magazine filled in the rest, which caused problems of its own. :)

I have no idea what I will tell my kids when the time comes (which is at WHAT AGE now???), but I at least plan to be prepared with accurate information and an open mind to their questions.

Great post! :)

Stephanie November 4, 2009, 5:12 AM

P.S. Cora and Esther are right… as are you (sorta). A woman CAN get pregnant at any time of the month… sure, she’s got a better shot of getting prego on some days more than others, but Esther is right on to suggest to not make any assumptions. I’d like to meet someone who could guess the days when a woman is not going to get pregnant. :)

Bruce Sallan November 4, 2009, 7:11 AM

Stephanie, Cora and Esther - Of course you are all correct and I stand “corrected,” but that doesn’t change the fact that most women are only fertile those few days a month. As with most generalities, there are exceptions. So, again I stand corrected on that. Nonetheless, I made it clear to my son during “the talk” that protection was necessary EVERY day of the month. As for when is the right time to have “the talk” I’d really suggest you read my first column, “There’s No Such Thing As Quality Time” which explains that the best moments, in my opinion, happen when you least expect it (with your kids). I had zero thought of having the conversation with my son in that Japanese restaurant. But, it became just the right moment. If that is “you” Stephanie, please come back to me on FB. Your passion is needed and Anita is very, very sorry. I respect your ideas immensely and want your regular feedback (and appreciate it). Thank all you readers for your support with my last blog (excepting deadbutt - who did make it too personal, did hide behind an anonymous name, but is literate, and has every right to speak his mind).

Kathi Browne November 4, 2009, 5:28 PM

I find it humorous that more comments center around when a woman can get pregnant than “the talk” itself. Maybe that explains the 13 yr old pregnant girls in my son’s 8th grade class.

If your son was asked on a test, “What time of the month can a woman be impregnated,” anytime would not be marked as correct.

David December 7, 2009, 7:34 PM

My father had the talk with me very informally and improvisationally in the car when I was about 11 or so. I actually had done some reading on the subject … on my parents’ bookshelf I had found some kind of parenting book, could have even been Dr. Spock, that summarized the acrobatics and body parts involved in the act of love. So my talk with Dad was more along the lines of me asking him for clarification. In any case, I’ve obsessed about the whole thing ever since.

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