Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Time for that Vibrator Talk with Your Teen Daughter

Stephany who blogs at Crooked House is not having an easy time of it. She's a couch potato by her own description, tired and dragging through her days, and ready to give Oprah expert Dr. Laura Berman the thumbs up for telling moms to tell their daughters about masturbation, maybe even given them vibrators for Christmas. It's understandable. Stephany is pregnant and says tongue in cheek, "If only I'd had a vibrator seven months ago, I wouldn't be stuck on this couch right now."

Ahh, but there's a disclaimer:

I'm kidding. (I mean it, Mom, I'm really kidding! I never heard about vibrators until yesterday! Honest!) But I'm not kidding about how informative this particular Oprah show was on a difficult parenting issue. (Crooked House)
She's funny, but her words strike truth: Most parents don't want to think about their little darlings knowing anything more about sex than the male penis is like your car cigarette lighter and a woman's vagina is like the hole into which the lighter goes.

I've never used that analogy with a child, but that is what my ex-husband told our son when the boy was about 10. The ex, who was not yet the ex, was reluctant to tell him that much. I had to lobby him to speak to our son, but I had already given the child a book that explained sex in plain English, including masturbation, for boys in his age-range. My work was done!

If my mother were still living, I may have had to tell her what Stephany said to hers at the end of her blog, and this after I've birthed two children in marriage, am nearing 50, and am single again. If you're a mother and think it would be easy to talk to your daughter about how to use a vibrator, then I'll bet you're a highly unique mommy.

My daughter's 28, and while I can mention vibrators in passing, I cannot see myself sitting down and telling her about the pleasures of masturbation, not now and probably not when she was 14. I've been patting myself on the back for being brave enough to find the juiciest condom I could and then telling her how to put it on an erect penis.

Nevertheless, I think there's value in Dr. Berman's advice, and mothers across the web are talking. Dr. Berman's advises teaching your daughter about the joy of masturbation so she will feel in charge of her own body and not have sex with the first boy that makes her hips gyrate and legs turn to Jello while giving her a hickey.

So, did you see the show? Have you talked it over with friends, read blog posts, um, approached your teen to have "the talk"? Watch selected video and read summaries at It's too much to cover here. The talk-show host did two episodes on "How to talk to your children about sex." The first one went from toddler to tween. The second focused on teens.

I thought when I looked for bloggers talking about these shows that I'd find only outrage because Oprah's audience looked like they all needed Valium when Dr. Berman suggested they give their daughters vibrators and talk to them about clitoral stimulation. Oprah's BFF Gayle, as Stephany says in her post, looked like "she needed smelling salts." That was during the first show. During the next show when Dr. Berman talked to a 14-year-old girlfriend and boyfriend, Courtney and Pierce, who wanted to have sex, I thought Gayle would have a stroke.

Gayle seemed to believe that too much would be interpreted as approval of teens having sex just because they think they're in love. Interestingly, however, after Dr. Berman finished talking to the teen couple, the girl's eyes opened. Courtney realized that she thought she and her boyfriend would be together forever or at least a few years because to her that's what long-term relationship means. Pierce, however, figured six-months to a year tops should do. After their talk with the doctor, Courtney wasn't quite so hot to go for it, but they've already done everything but have intercourse.

Do Pierce and Courtney understand sexually transmitted diseases? Courtney says they've had presentations in school about them. "Quite a few times, from sixth grade till now," Pierce says.
Dr. Berman says that's good news. "For the past eight years at least, most schools—if they do have sex education—it's abstinence-only education," she says. "They teach you about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, but they don't necessarily teach you about prevention." (
Jen will not go the abstinence-only right with her child, I concluded after reading Serenity Now! According to Jen, her daughter is about "2-3 years" away from needing the first "talk," probably the one about the mechanics of sex. But of vibrators, she's not buying it, "... for the part where the Dr. suggests that as a parent, you offer your 15 year old daughter the possibility of a vibrator. Um, sorry no- prudesaywhat?" she writes.

But she's not as uptight as that sounds:

At any rate, I've always tried to create an environment where my kids are not ashamed of their bodies. We call their "stuff" by its real name and when my kids are um, "exploring" I usually turn a blind eye.
The other day, Jack was in the bathtub and Megan and I were in the bathroom with him talking about other things, not really paying attention to him. I could hear him chattering away to himself but I didn't pay much attention until he called out something that sounded like, "penis control".
Megan started to giggle and I looked over at Jack who was sprawled out on his back in the tub and clearly had a handle on his, uh...appendage. (Serenity Now!)
I remember those days.

Another aspect of talking to our children about sex is to talk about emotions, how being in love or thinking we're in love feels, and according to a join-study by Oprah Magazine and Seventeen Magazine, parents fail to do that. We're focused on making sure nobody pops up pregnant. Find more about that study here.

Other bloggers discussing Oprah's show on talking to children about sex:

Big Update! Resources from the Show

The focus of this Blogher post is teens and the suggestion that mothers should talk over masturbation, including vibrators, but I'm adding information for the mothers of younger children and the parents of teens who may be starting this discussion later than Dr. Berman suggests as a resource for the interested.

At, you may watch video here of a mother talking to her 10-year-old daughter about sex with Dr. Berman's help.

Also, you may download Dr. Berman's handbook, The SexEd Guide For Parents also at as well as additional visual aids.

Nordette Adams is a BlogHer CE and the New Orleans Literature Examiner for She has two personal blogs, WSATA and UMBOP. This post is cross-posted at BlogHer.


msladydeborah said...

I don't watch Lady 'O' often. This obviously should of been one that I turned on.

I did not birth daughters. I did the sex talk with my sons and kept a decent supply of condoms handy.

Since I did my mothering during the seventies, eighties and part of the nineties-I am not sure what I would do today.

A vibrator would definitely be an alternative to active sexual contact. What I am having a difficult time imagining is how a woman who does not use one herself would approach that subject.

Vérité Parlant said...

You make an excellent point regarding how can a woman who does not use a vibrator approach the subject with her daughter.

This is cross-posted at BlogHer so you may see some interesting opinions turn up over there.