New Normal

By Susan Hartley

February 25, 2014


Dear Grandparenting: To introduce myself, I am a 61-year-old grandmother who is generally in charge of raising my two grandchildren (ages 6 and 8) because my daughter works like the Dickens to pay all their bills. Most of the time it is no sweat. I know what to do and generally feel competent to handle whatever comes up. There is one big exception. My grandkids are already asking me questions about sex!

When I was raising my kids, those kinds of questions cropped up when they were teenagers. I sort of stumbled through like most parents do. But these little tykes are way ahead of the curve. Maybe this is the new normal in this day and age with all the explicit stuff available on the Internet. I will not repeat any of questions but let’s just say some are for mature audiences. It is amazing what words come from the mouths of babes today! Can you give me some help in this area and maybe some general guidelines? A.L. The Villages, Fla.

Dear A.L.: An excellent question that reflects the accelerated sexual learning curve in society. Thirty or 40years ago, the very concept of sex was a mystery that many grandchildren did not begin to fathom until their teens. Not now.

Here’s some recommended reading — a book entitled “Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask)” by Justin Richardson and Mark Shuster. According to the authors, it contains “the secrets of surviving your child’s sexual development from birth to the teens” and avoids religious ideologies. Obviously this book is not for everyone, but it does offer comprehensive coverage of a delicate topic in a serious and sober manner without getting overly preachy or moralistic, and there’s plenty to be said for that. A wealth of digital resources is also available.

The very thought of this conversation is enough to make some grandparents break out in a cold sweat. Rest assured your grandchildren’s void of sexual knowledge will be filled sooner rather than later. If you think you’re not up to the task, better think again, lest some Internet joker or schoolyard chum with a taste for porn put the wrong kind of ideas in their head. Finally, don’t forget to clear everything with their mother. Family needs to stay on message.

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Art Levinson from New York, N.Y. recounts a “real funny one” he heard from his brother Leo. During a birthday party for his granddaughter, Leo listened as a group of young boys discussed a movie where a Dalmatian dog saves the day for fire fighters.

“I don’t see what good a dog can be in a fire,” said one boy.

“If you’ve ever watched a dog on the street you would know,” said another. “They use it to find the fire hydrant!”

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Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.