We wanted to get a retrospective account of the boys’ experiences of this important topic, now that they are adults with families of their own. Bob asked them to respond to a series of questions about what they remember from the discussions about sexuality and to recall how they felt about these discussions. These questions illustrate the basic issues that Bob felt were essential for young people to know.
What is the first thing you remember about my talking to you about sex?
What do you remember about the children’s books I read to you about boys and girls?
What is the first thing you remember that I told you about penises and vaginas?
What did I tell you about how babies were made?
When did you first remember knowing where babies came from?
When did you first start to notice your body and girls’ bodies changing?
When did you see your first girlie magazine?
When did you first start thinking about girls?
How did I and your mother teach you to treat girls? What did we tell you to do and say?
When did I first start talking to you about sex and marriage?
Do you remember when you first started to understand and think about sexual morality?
The boys talked about their recollections of Bob bringing up the topic of sexuality very directly. Aaron recollects:
I remember you saying, “Hey guys, we’re going to read some books about sex.” I was interested in it, but also felt embarrassed. I must have been about ten or eleven or maybe even younger. “Teenage Sexuality” was in the title or something like that. Another book explained that when a couple loved each other, they had sex. It was a cartoon picture of a man and woman in bed—the head and shoulders of a man on top of a woman with a blanket over them. You explained that the penis went into the vagina, and you said “blip,” indicating that the semen came out. You explained the sperm swimming around, and then it comes to an egg. I remember learning about the sperm and egg getting together and making a baby.
Matthew recalled little cartoon characters:
I remember a round little fat guy who was the dad…there was always a mom and a dad. Boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina. You said that penises are for when you pee. When you get excited, the penis gets hard and semen comes out and the sperm finds the egg. I remember one particular talk where you explained that the vagina was on an angle facing down and not just a pathway parallel to the ground. I remember the book with pictures of boys and girls maturing and growing pubic hair. You never hesitated or balked when talking about the differences. I felt a little nervous about sex, but I never felt that I would be reprimanded for bringing it up.
Dan remembered these dad–son talks as “intentional conversations.” He said, “We used books. I also remember when we would read scripture and the word ‘whore’ would come up, you would explain it to me.” David said, “You said penises can get an erection, maybe when you see a pretty girl. And that’s a natural thing. You may start to fantasize about girls.”
The boys remembered some of the conversations happening around the time that David was born. Aaron said, “I was around nine or ten—right when David was being born, which is what sparked it all. I vaguely remember you pushing a doll’s head through a turtleneck sweater.” Matthew recalled, “I remember Mom barely pregnant and knowing that she was going to have a baby. I remember going up to Mom and rubbing her stomach and saying, ‘A ball, a ball, a baby comes out, ball gone.’” Daniel said, “I think you made the link, and you probably used the word intercourse. I recall that David was going to come out of Mommy’s tummy.”