"It's not that sex is bad cause that's what they think we're saying," Roffman said, "It's that sex is really good. … but sex is really powerful. And we want sexuality to be a very positive force in your life. … We want it to happen under the best of all circumstances."
One mom found an unusual way to get her son to have "the talk." "She would lock me in the car and just drive around so I couldn't escape … talking to me about these kind of things, said Steve.
Steve now says he's glad she did, and Edmund is glad his parents had the talk with him.
"My dad just went over everything he could think of masturbation, oral sex, vaginal intercourse, and just rammed it all down. … Then my Mom followed," Edmund said, covering "things I wouldn't even think my parents even knew about in their right minds."
Parents', Kids' Definitions of Sex Differ
Of course, to have the talk, it's good to agree on what you're talking about, and here we parents make mistakes, because what we call sex may differ from what the kids call sex.
When I asked the parents what sex was they gave pretty straightforward answers:
• Any contact with genitals in another person
• Oral sex or touching genitals
The kids' definitions were different. They were a bit closer to President Clinton's definition. They said petting or touching wasn't sex. Oral sex wasn't sex.
Whatever the definition, Roffman says our kids want to hear from us. They will listen, she says, because underneath the adolescent bravado parents remain the primary influence in their lives.
What else does the expert say to her kids?
"I always say, you know, as far as I'm concerned, sexual intercourse is the most fundamentally powerful behavior there is on the face of the Earth. It's a behavior that has the ability to do the three most powerful things there are, all at the same time. It has the ability to give life, potentially take life away and to change it forever. That's unbelievably powerful and therefore, it shouldn't be in the hands of anybody who isn't an adult, in as many ways as they need to be an adult. It's not for kids."