What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series,
click here. Today’s guest posts is by Ariel Price.

Yes, many of us
have cast out Victorian bashfulness along with horse-drawn carriages,
monocles, and petticoats. But not all of us.

The only thing my
parents had ever effectively communicated to me about sex was that they
disapproved of it, and disapproved of TV shows, music, and people who
discussed it. I knew that I couldn’t ask them questions, even out of
curiosity. I would probably get in trouble. I wasn’t allowed to attend
sex education classes. So I started asking my friends. The information
they gave me was informed by the media, and I was shocked to learn that
there was a whole world of expectation out there that I was supposed to
live up to.

I remember the first time my boyfriend began sending
me sexually explicit text messages. I didn’t know what they meant. I was
embarrassed because I didn’t even know the technical terms for some of
my own body parts. Labia? Clitoris? These were words I’d never heard.
But I was also flattered, because my friends had told me that this was
supposed to happen. This is how boys show admiration and respect for my
body. Seriously. That is what I was told, being educated about sex by
fourteen-year-olds.

Be obedient. Be quiet. Don’t talk back.
Those were lessons I learned when I was young, and I learned them well. I
had my moments like every other kid, but for the most part I was the
model daughter.

Is it really surprising that I didn’t know how to
say no to the guys I dated? Was I supposed to grow a backbone in the
heat of the moment, when I’d always been taught to bend before? And,
yes, some of it I wanted. It felt good. I felt admired. I thought this
was how he showed that he loved me. But even when I didn’t want it, I
couldn’t say no.

And then I had to deal with the years of guilt.
Would God forgive me? Could I still wear white at my wedding? Did this
make me a slut? Would any respectable man take me, now that I was
damaged goods? Did I even deserve to marry?

And once that guilt
was there, the only person I thought could save me was a man. I needed a
man to reassure me that I was worth something. I needed a man to prove
to me that I was still loveable. So I kept dating guys, looking for the
one who would marry me—not out of some romantic notion of love or
companionship, but out of desperation.

Thankfully, my story has a
happy ending. After years of counseling, I eventually accepted the fact
that I am a beautiful, worthwhile woman. I understood that God loves me
no matter what. I learned to defend myself and to have self-control. I
learned that neither marriage nor a husband could save me. I learned how
to talk about sex in a healthy way. And I learned all this before I met
the wonderful man who became my husband.

Talking to your kids
about sex can be difficult. It can be awkward. “The birds and the bees”
are not going to cut it. And your kid might resist, especially if you’ve
never tackled the subject before. But staying silent is not an option.

Because if you don’t educate your child about sex, someone else will.

What
I want you to know is that neglecting to talk about this natural,
beautiful, good, God-given part of life will damage your children.

What I want you to know is that strength, courage, and self-control in the face of opposition cannot be taught all at once.

What I want you to know is that peer pressure is strong, and it almost always wins.

What I want you to know is that your kids want to talk to you.

What I want you to know is that your kids need grace.

They will learn about sex anyway. It’s better that they learn from you.