What if we admitted to kids that most sex is for pleasure?


For parents to talk frankly to their kids about sex, they would have to first be able to talk frankly about sex to one another, and that’s not the case. There’s a real hang-up that talking about sex makes you a pervert and it’s something you should keep to yourself. Worse, parents who are like this end up passing the attitude on to their children, perpetuating the cycle.


I was unaware that ‘adults have sex for pleasure’ was generally kept a secret from kids. It was common knowledge when I grew up. But then perhaps having grown up in a Southern Baptist community the idea of temptation of Earthly pleasures was discussed more frequently and at a younger age than in agnostic households. We Southern Baptists were warned as kids that we’d be tempted to indulge in fornication but that we should abstain from it, lest it lead to dancing! :smile:


Also somewhere between pleasure and reproduction is another purpose, bonding, which maybe deserves more credit. Dreger’s explanation that pleasure in sex encourages animals to have more offspring is a fair start, but makes it seem like it’s only an evolutionary mistake there can be pleasure in non-reproductive forms or when nobody is ovulating. It’s probably not.


I have no kids myself, but I can’t imagine not telling a child sex is for pleasure. That’s what I was told, and it seems to me saying anything else would be a betrayal of your own children. Moreover, whether or not you are religious, whether or not you believe in abstinence until marriage, you are certainly not going to get your point across by lying or deceiving your kids, when they will learn otherwise from every other source in the world at a very early age.

Seems like a lot of religions (most?) talk a great deal about sex for pleasure, but in a negative manner, like it’s wrong somehow. I think this makes it difficult for schools to even hint at the topic, without raising a huge controversy.


There’s a huge gap between a “poorly kept secret” and “speaking frankly about it with your kids.”

The former is where the world is. Everyone knows what we use sex for, but we’re not “allowed” to talk about it that way. The latter is what this parent is doing which is a pretty commendable change and hopefully it gets more parents to try it.

1 Like

Reminds me of that t-shirt from a few years ago:

A couple of years ago a Catholic told me, as one of his many arguments for why gay people shouldn’t be allowed to marry, that God intended sex and marriage to be for making children and having families. There are apparently a lot of people who still actually believe this.

I somehow managed to refrain from asking about the details of his divorce.


{Insert ironic joke about wife and sex here}

1 Like

Pleasure and bonding yes, but babies can happen on the first try. Since we’re programmed to reproduce, traditional cultural/religious controls may have evolved (imperfectly!) to reduce the burden on society of unwed mothers and the greater risks they and their kids face. The pill, social safety nets and women working all change the equation but single moms still fare worse in society today. And kids get exposed to increasing amounts of sex in the media, especially now on the web. I’m an agnostic liberal but can see where the religious right has valid points about the dangers of sex for kids.

That said, one of my biggest fears is that those opposed to contraception, family planning, sex ed and evolutionary teaching will succeed because it might be more adaptive to keep women barefoot and pregnant.

Of course, sexual activity outside marriage is not sex per se. As so many catholics have demonstrated, including priests.

Most religions know that the children will default to the religion of their parents, and thus encourage people to have as many babies as possible to bolster their numbers. Some even go to extremes like disallowing contraception and opposing sex education.

For the most extreme case check out the quiverfull movement.


I can’t imagine not telling a child sex is for pleasure

Yeah, it seems crazy but, as one who has reproduced, I can see how it happens.

It’s not that I’m especially uncomfortable talking sex, or particularly modest about my body or my kid’s… But the first sex conversation we had, we had when he was still very very little (maybe three?) and it was in answer to the classic “Where do babies come from?” So we talked about the biology of how reproduction occurs, and for a three year old (or at least my three year old) these were very difficult concepts to grasp – and it didn’t seem helpful at the time to throw in, “But, really most folks have sex not to make babies but because it’s fun!”

And now my kid is older, but that early conversation (that got repeated for verification a number of times, because kids like to check that what was true last week/month/year is still true) largely set the framework for discussion.

Seriously? Who in the world’s parents omitted the “orgasms feel good” part of the sparkin’&courtin’ talk? I really find it hard to believe that this is the norm for parents in the Western world. It seems more likely that Alice here is engaging in some kind of I’m-more-progressive-than-my-uptight-parents-were social posturing and everyone is going along because they KNOW that THOSE PEOPLE in… OTHER SUBCULTURES are repressed*.

Quick poll. Sound off on your background and whether or not parents there Openly Admitted sex was fun, it was a Poorly Kept Secret or a Well Kept Secret.

me: Rural TN, Baptist, Openly Admitted

*my apologies if Alice lives in a town full of Shakers.


There is at least one exception to religions talking about sex in a mostly negative way: The Our Whole Lives curriculum, which is developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Our Whole Lives is a series of sexuality education curricula for six age groups: grades K-1, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, young adults (ages 18-35), and adults.

Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives not only provides facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.

I had a pretty informative sex ed class in public school, but it was peanuts compared to OWL, which I’ve taken as a teen and as a young adult. The core sexuality curriculum is very inclusive and sex-positive, while the spiritual values are framed in (liberally-interpreted) Biblical teachings for UCC, and humanist philosophy for UU. Happy Mutants will probably prefer the latter, and churches are usually open to non-members taking OWL classes.


Sorry but why do you need to pull your kids away from Lego and Transformers to tell them that sex is for pleasure. They don’t even understand the concept yet.

Maybe when they start spending more time than normal in the bathroom. However at that stage in my life the last thing i would’ve wanted is an awkward birds and bees conversation with my Mum shudder

PS. shudder

Never lie to children.


Rural Texas. We grew up knowing about sex from a very early age. Animals are constantly having sex and children ask the darndest questions. The ‘sex talk’ was about using protection to not have babies. In other words, the pleasure part was understood and the talk was about responsibility, treating your partner with respect, and the downside to not using condoms.

I think the trends we see across most of the globe indicate that the people opposed to those things are losing their battle. With every generation, religious fundamentalists become more and more endangered as a species.