Edit ModuleShow Tags

Parental Indiscrection

The whole truth


Published:

Rachel Laing

When I was five years old, we had a dog for just a few weeks. Natasha—a young, ill-behaved collie mix who ripped curtains and generally wrought havoc during thunderstorms—needed space to run around, my dad explained. So he took her to a farm.

Every time we drove past a farm—frequently, since we lived in Pennsylvania—I would say, “Hi, Natasha!” over and over.

It wasn’t until my late 20s that my sister divulged with a sigh: “You know Dad didn’t take Natasha to a farm, right? He had her put to sleep. Everyone knows that’s what ‘taking the dog to a farm’ means.”

I knew the euphemism, of course, but I also knew my dad would not kill a young, healthy dog merely because she was inconvenient. And if he had, he probably would have told us.

My parents believed we could handle the truth about the world, and they never spared us the facts or cocooned them in euphemism. Grandma didn’t “pass away.” She died. Joan wasn’t Linda’s “roommate.” She was her girlfriend; they were lesbians. Babies weren’t made “when two married people love each other very much.” They were made via a process, described clinically to my sisters and me, that requires neither love nor marriage.

"My parents believed we could handle the truth about the world, and they never spared us the facts."

Getting forthright, accurate answers from one’s parents made me into something of an oracle among my adolescent peers.

Pleased with the outcome of such an upbringing, I wanted to raise my kids similarly. But, of course, it’s not so simple.

For instance, I had no qualms about telling my kids about the mechanics of procreation. But then, recently, my son asked me what a condom was. In order to explain that, I’d have to clue him in to the reality that the act of procreation isn’t always done to make babies.

Was he ready for a discussion about this? Is that even the question? Or is it: How will he benefit from my withholding facts on a subject that will undoubtedly consume his thoughts in a couple of years? Do I want him to learn the values part of this topic from me, or from a friend whose parents might have taught him abstinence is the only approach?

Knowing my past attempts to bob and weave only spurred his curiosity, I answered the question, and we had a good discussion.

“Just out of curiosity,” I finally asked, “Where did you hear about condoms?”

“From a sixth-grader at lunch,” he said. “He wouldn’t tell me what they are, but he said if I asked my mom, I was going to get in huge trouble.”

“Nope,” I said. “There is not a question on earth you could ask me that will get you in trouble. Ever. You can ask anything, anytime, and I’ll always tell the truth.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Letter from the Editor: How 6,500 Minutes of Meditation Changed Me

Editor in Chief Erin Meanley Glenny dishes on the December issue of San Diego Magazine

Letter from the Editor: Life of Pie

Editor in Chief Erin Meanley Glenny dishes on the November issue of San Diego Magazine

A Family Afar: Palm Springs Then and Now

Our travelling dad learns how to redefine fun for the whole family in a city he loved before kids
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Win a Trip for Two to Yellowstone Country Montana
    Win a trip for two to Bozeman, Montana including roundtrip airfare and lodging
  2. Sushi’s Next Gen Is Here at Himitsu
    In La Jolla, a Sushi Ota protégé sticks to an age-old tradition of quality
  3. 10 Hot Plates: San Diego's Top Food News in October
    The latest restaurant rumors, openings, and coming-soons
  4. San Diego Events Calendar: October 2018
    How to be busy and important this month in San Diego
  5. San Diego's Top Doctors 2018
    Our annual list of 717 physicians in 88 specialties, plus five physicians open up about the emotional burdens of their fields
  6. Incoming: The Hold Fast
    One of the country’s top sustainable sushi chefs is opening a handroll bar serving 100-percent local seafood
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Winter is Waiting in Montana’s Yellowstone Country

Win a trip for two that includes roundtrip airfare from Long Beach and a stay at the Element by Westin in Bozeman, Montana

Win a Trip for Two to Yellowstone Country Montana

Win a trip for two to Bozeman, Montana including roundtrip airfare and lodging
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags