Despite decades of feminism and co-parenting and men grappling with diaper changes and night feedings, moms are often by default or tradition the ones who end up having the sex talk, wrote the Toronto Star Feb. 19. Often it’s because they are the parent who spends the most time with the children.
“Often if there is a woman in the household, she takes over that part of the parenting,” says Andrea O’Reilly, a professor in York’s School of Women’s Studies in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and founder & director of the Association for Research on Mothering.
Women are typically the family CEO, in charge of remembering who got which shots and setting up play dates. Having “the talk” falls into that realm. “The talk is part of a larger paradigm of gender. Until we dislodge that, women will probably be the ones to have ‘the talk’. I try to de-gender caregiving, but it’s a hard sell,” O’Reilly says.
She believes "the talk" is declining in importance in any case. “We live in such a sex-saturated culture. Kids know about sex long before children 10, 20, 30 years ago did,” she says.
Children want information about sex, according to a study of 1,200 Toronto teens released last summer. The Toronto Teen Survey found 28 per cent of teens weren getting information about sex from their parents and 53 per cent were getting it from their friends.
Parents might feel they lack the skills or even the stomach for a discussion about sex with their children, says Sarah Flicker, a professor in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies and principal researcher on the Toronto Teen Survey. “Not all parents feel comfortable telling children where a clitoris is, but you could talk about what makes a healthy relationship.”
Coverage also appeared in The Hamilton Spectator.