-{As Clancy and I move forward with plans to have children, we’ve talked a lot about how we’re going to raise them and the lessons we will try to impart. I’ve decided to turn this into a series of posts. The first involves “the sex talk” or at least a portion of it. Clancy will be involved with the sex talk whether we have a son or a daughter. If we have a daughter, she will do most of the talking and my main contribution will be informing her about how atrocious young men are. If we have a son, Clancy will impart the medical portion but I will impart a good share of the psychological, moral, and practical wisdom. Below is a portion of what I will tell him about the risks of premarital sex.}-

You might find yourself thinking, at some point prior to having sex, that concerns over pregnancy and STDs are primarily her responsibility because she will be most affected by them. There is some truth to this. She is more likely to get an STD from any particular sexual encounter than you are. She is the one that will have to undergo nine months of pregnancy and labor or the alternatively an abortion. These are all things that your mother will go over with you sister when they have this same talk.

But there is another side to the story. There are things that you will go through that she won’t. There are options that she will have available to her that you won’t have available to you. There will be people that defend her decisions and behavior – whatever it is – and fewer who will defend yours. While she will have to live with the consequences of a decision that she has to make, you will have to live with a decision that is not yours to make.

Whatever your views on abortion right now are, know that they are subject to change. What you think at 17 is different than what you will think at 27. What you think you believed about abortion will change, maybe by solidifying and strenghtening your view but maybe by changing it completely. You may think of a fetus as a clump of cells right until it is your DNA in that clump. You may think that life is sacred until you’re confronted with bringing a child into a world that isn’t ready for it. But the most important thing to remember about your views on abortion is that they are, insofar as your flesh, semen, and potential offspring are concerned, utterly irrelevent.

If you decide, either at or before it becomes central to your life, that abortion is morally acceptable and desirable, you had better hope that she is on the same page. Or you had better keep your thoughts on what she should do with her body to yourself. If you urge her to have an abortion and she chooses not to, your view of what she should have done won’t help with the child support payments. More than that, though, you will be on record as having wished your future child had never been born. Courts may use that to limit your access to him or her. But more importantly, every time you look into the eyes of a son or daughter that you are certain to come to love and treasure, you will remember that you wished that they had been taken out of this world before ever having been allowed into it.

Whether you embrace her decision to carry the child to term or not, you need to realize what you have to look forward to. You may have visions of the two of you settling down together for the long haul. And maybe it will work out that way. Or maybe it won’t. Maybe she will leave you and suddenly your access to the child is restricted. Maybe you will decide that for whatever reason you just can’t stand her. But you will have to. She will be a part of your life for the rest of it, whether you want her to be or not. If you’re worth your grain of salt, you will be involved in your child’s life above and beyond what is required by the courts. If she falls and moves away, depending on what a judge has to say you will have to follow her. If you want to move away, you won’t because you want to continue to be a central part of your child’s life. For the next 18 years, you are tied to her because she is as likely as not to be the gatekeeper of your child. When you’re wondering whether or not to sleep with a woman, keep that in mind. When you’re wondering whether or not you want to trade a little more pleasure for a little less protection, keep that in mind.

It doesn’t get any easier if you decide that the conception constitutes a human life and that abortion is murder. Even if you are enthusiastic about bringing the child into the world and if she decides to do so, most of what I’ve said will apply. If she decides not to carry the child to term, however, you are in for something very different. You have no choice but to stand by while she murders your child. Not only will you have no legal options, very few people will be understanding or accomodating of the situation that you are in. Pro-choice people will tell you that you are trying to control her body and that you should have thought of that before you lowered your zipper. Pro-life people, who have worn their lungs raw arguing that her “choice” occurred when she chose to have sex, are going to be hard-pressed to say that it’s any different for you. And you will know that they are right.

But all of this is what occurs after she has made her decision. The part before is important, too. You may think that you are exempt from all of this because you know that she is as pro-choice as you are. Unfortunately for you, her views are as subject to change as yours are. Women who say that they could never have an abortion but believe it should be legal very frequently believe it should be legal because somewhere in the recesses of their mind they know that they might take advantage of that option. Or she may be against abortion right up until she is carrying a child that she is not ready for. Or with a guy – you – she is not ready to have a child with. Many women will make their choice responsibly. Others, however, may make it in the middle of a three-day argument. Likewise, the opposite may occur. She may think that abortion is fine in the abstract until suddenly its growing in her body. Or she may run the calculations in her mind and determine that she wants to be with you and the best way to do that is to hold on to this permanent connection. Permanent. Always keep that word in mind whenever you’re thinking that the risk of pregnancy is an acceptable one.

A woman doesn’t have to be lying or mind-changing for you not to know what she’s going to do. She may be among the large contingent of women where the decision as to whether or not to keep an unwanted pregnancy active depends on the circumstances. It depends on timing. It depends on how she feels about you.

When this is the case, I have to stress again that what you think and what you want are completely irrelevent. Short of a doctor with a medical chart and a sad look, there is nothing that will create a greater feeling of powerless in your life than the little blue dot or pink bar on a pregnancy test indicating a pregnancy that you are not ready for. She will have the burdens of the pregnancy and/or its disposal and she will have to answer to self-appointed moral guardians for whatever decision she makes, and however unenviable that is, you will nonetheless envy the measure of control over her destiny that you do not have over yours. Your life will be dictated by her judgment, her morals, and her priorities. You gave her that power that power when you impregnated her and nobody is going to give it back to you.

And then there’s the possibility that you won’t even know about it. If you choose to have sex with women you don’t know very well, they could become pregnant without you ever even knowing about it until a child rolls up at your doorstep fifteen years down the line or until after she’s put it up for adoption. Or you may be fooled into thinking that you participated in a conception that you didn’t. Only she knows for sure and she may have some pretty good (and self-serving) reasons not to say. And if you’re in a position where you don’t know, you’re left in the position of potentially supporting a child that isn’t yours or obliterating your relationship with her by demanding a paternity test. Even if your relationship is only that of co-parents, that’s a valuable thing to have lost.

The point of all of this is not to scare the hell of you. Never sleeping with anyone for these fears is likely to be just as big a mistake as ignoring the realities behind the fears. My advice to you is to manage your risks. With contraception, you can make these risks far less pronounced. Your mother will tell you that two forms of contraception is ideal. One is better than none. But know also that contraception does fail. Condoms burst. Spermicide misses its target. She may not be as devout about taking the pill as she tells you she is or she may just decide that she wants your (or somebody’s) baby. She can take your condom, impregnate herself with it, and the law will still approach the situation as though you had worn no protection at all. The law won’t care if you were deceived. You won’t ask your child to excuse you on the grounds that he was a mistake.

In addition to contraception, the best way to manage your risk is through partner-selection and sex-reduction. Every time you have sex, you are running a risk. How much of a risk depends on contraception, but there is always a risk. The more partners you have, the more possible it is that you’re bringing a child into this world with a woman that you don’t know very well. But the better you know the person and the more you trust her, the more likely it is that you will avoid impregnating her to begin with and the better able to handle it you will be if it does happen. The question to ask yourself is whether or not you would trust this person with your child. Because, if you’re not careful (and maybe even if you are), that’s exactly what you’re doing.


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About the Author

Will Truman (trumwill) is a southern transplant in the mountain east with an IT background who bides his time taking care of their daughter while his wife brings home the bacon. You will probably be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.

17 Responses to Father To Son: Your Life in Her Hands

  1. Peter says:

    She can take your condom, impregnate herself with it, and the law will still approach the situation as though you had worn no protection at all.

    Which is why, in an uncharacteristically mature and useful bit of advice, a Well-Known Sex Blogger always recommends flushing it down the toilet rather than throwing it in the trash.

  2. a_c says:

    Good article; posts a viewpoint too often ignored.

  3. Brandon Berg says:

    Pro-life people, who have worn their lungs raw arguing that her “choice” occurred when she chose to have sex, are going to be hard-pressed to say that it’s any different for you. And you will know that they are right.

    I’m not sure I follow this. He made a decision to take full responsibility for his actions. While pro-lifers may not generally approve of premarital sex in general, I’m pretty sure they would sympathize with him on the abortion part.

  4. Brandon Berg says:

    Peter:
    Why do you always call him “a Well-Known Sex Blogger” rather than referring to him by name?

  5. Peter says:

    Peter:
    Why do you always call him “a Well-Known Sex Blogger” rather than referring to him by name?

    Just sort of a joke.

  6. trumwill says:

    While pro-lifers may not generally approve of premarital sex in general, I’m pretty sure they would sympathize with him on the abortion part.

    Yes, but that it would be a qualified sympathy is very important. Most of the arguments that “she should have thought of the consequences before she had sex!” will apply to him as well.

    It’s sort of like the reluctance to embrace single mothers. They approach that on more practical grounds, but the moral arguments are there, too.

    When I was in the position of a potential unwanted pregnancy that the mother would likely have aborted if it came to fruition (against my wishes), I didn’t get much from the pro-life people I knew because they were also devout Christians and felt that I was already in the wrong. They weren’t in my corner.

    And I’m not arguing that they should be. I had committed a sin in the eyes of their God and I had done so with someone that didn’t share my values. Until all this happened, I didn’t know precisely what my values were on the subject. Another moral failing on my part, it seemed.

  7. Webmaster says:

    Peter,

    you’ve now referred to this nebulous “Well-Known Sex Blogger” enough that perhaps I should ask who the heck you’re referring to?

    Will,

    We’ve gone round and round on the fact that, once there’s a conception, the man’s “options” are pretty much limited to “sit and wait and try to remain on good terms with the mother.”

    Heck, according to the way the system works in some states, you can be named a father based on false identification, have the state issue “service by proxy” of the judgement to someone who may never deliver it to you, and then held liable for “child support” for years. (Another eye-opener here). Or, if you have sex, break up with the girl, you may (as you suggested) find out that there was a pregnancy years ago, have a kid show up on your doorstep or find out that the county is trying to come after you for child support, and THEN have to try to go through the paternity testing questions to find out if the kid is really yours.

    Yeah. It should be pretty frightening.

  8. Peter says:

    Web,
    I’m referring to Roissy. Proceed at your own risk.

  9. trumwill says:

    For the record, I’ve always appreciated Peter’s discretion in mentioning the Well Known Blogger’s name. Same with a certain HBD authority’s, even though I read his blog on a somewhat regular basis. I don’t like giving them any more publicity than is necessary. So keep up the good work, Peter!

  10. Sheila Tone says:

    Web, he’s *not* that well known. Don’t take Peter’s bait. He’s managed to make something of a name for himself around the Half Sigma neighborhood by making crude and nasty jokes about women (including myself), and 2) claiming to be a winner with women, while expressing opinions normally held by men who are losers with women. This makes the losers feel validated and therefore, they worship him. Don’t fall for the gambit. He devotes way too much time to blogging to be anything close to what he claims.

  11. Sheila Tone says:

    Will, your talk is a lot more delicate than mine would be:

    When you’re young, it’s hard to tell who’s going to grow up to be a loser. One of the worst things in the world is to have to raise a kid with a loser. Most people are losers. If you want to avoid loserhood, it takes constant vigilance.

    People lie all the damned time. They even lie to themselves. And they’re often incompetent. Whenever someone tells you something like, “I’m on reliable birth control,” you have to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen if they were lying? Or wrong?”

    Anytime something seems too good to be true, it is. Any time you think you’re getting a great deal, it’s too good to be true. Especially with sex. It would be great for guys if attractive women just wanted to give out free sex and disappear on the guy’s terms, but usually they don’t. Even if they say they will.

    Then I will tell him about specific women I’ve known, or known of, who represent archetypes to watch out for. I will teach him about the types of girls most likely to get pregnant accidentally on purpose and keep the baby.

    I will tell these negative stories throughout his youth, even prior to the sex talk, to condition him early to think of unwed mothers as predatory losers to stay away from sexually. (You’d be surprised at how many guys don’t learn their lesson even when they know the girl has already had a bastard with another guy. They’re still surprised when she gets pregnant with theirs.) I’ll teach him, as my dad taught me, to notice when there’s not a man around in a family and to inwardly question why, and judge harshly if the answer isn’t death or shared-custody divorce or genius sperm bank and professional mom. I will teach him that the products of such families should not be had sex with under any circumstances other than when you want them to get pregnant.

  12. Sheila Tone says:

    As a parent, I plan to do a lot of teaching through the telling of detailed stories about bad outcomes. I’ll always add, “Now, we shouldn’t *judge,* because we never know everything a person has gone through. So we still have to be nice to them. But that doesn’t mean we want to *be* like them.”

  13. trumwill says:

    “But Mo-o-o-o-o-om, she really did get pregnant the one time the condom broke and that’s why she’s on the pill and doesn’t want me wearing one!”

    Clancy has a couple factoid about DUI’s. Something like 2/3 of the people convicted on a DUI charge meet the medical criteria for alcoholism. Two convictions and it goes upward of 90%. Most everybody has been legally drunk and behind the wheel at least twice in their life. But if you get caught, chances are it’s really not your first (or second) time. I may have to use that on the subject of unwed parents. If the gun fired, there was probably not just one chamber with a bullet in it.

    One thing I think you’re going to have to look out for is that they might have an idealized view of people like I did. If they’re raised in a nice neighborhood around mostly non-dysfunctional people, they might thing that most people have the same values and priorities that he does. That was definitely a problem with me. I thought “bad priorities” started and usually ended with “too concerned about superficial and material things”. It was only on the BBS that I learned that some people don’t see or cannot easily obtain the sort of future I had to look forward to (which felt – and feels – unremarkable since it was what I was raised around).

    Your stories will probably help a lot. Of course, one can go too far. To the extent that Mom counselled me, it was “Don’t trust any woman willing to sleep with you before you’re married.” That was easy to toss aside as “She just doesn’t understand.” It did keep me thinking that sex should be reserved for marriage up until, well, that theory had the remotest possibility of being tested.

    The main reason I soft-pedal motives and don’t go too much into the girl trying to trap him. They won’t think that the girl with such great taste as to be willing to sleep with him is that girl. They will desperately not want to believe it. So I want to re-inforce the point that even if they’re on the up-and-up, a lot of bad things can still happen. Given that we’re not likely to live in a wealthy area, maybe I should focus more on the counterproductively motivated.

    I have a “Men are dogs” speech that will make the same point. Though, when discussing men, I somehow feel more free to take a harsher tone.

    Out of curiosity, when you say “a man around the family” do you include step-fathers? I would be inclined to, though at the same time I’ve noticed that couples that come with two in-tact families seem to have much better marriages. On the other hand, I know a number of cases where the step-father is the defacto father. One warning sign that I’ve noticed: if the courts deem it worthwhile to give sole custody to the father when growing up, that’s a warning sign. A sign that they come from a not-very-good situation. That may be less true of our children as courts seem to have lowered the standards on what is required to allow the father to take the lead. Not sure.

    Then, of course, there’s Libby. She lived with her step-father and step-step-mother. Father was gone before she was born and mother left when she was something like eight. Rather than going to a grandparent or relative or something like that (I don’t know if she had any), she ended up staying with the step-father. I don’t think that she was legally adopted. I’m not sure how that legally shaked out. Her step-folks were real salt-of-the-earth kind of people, but that’s not who she got her genes from. So it was, like so many other things I overlooked, a warning sign.

  14. Peter says:

    For the record, I’ve always appreciated Peter’s discretion in mentioning the Well Known Blogger’s name. Same with a certain HBD authority’s, even though I read his blog on a somewhat regular basis. I don’t like giving them any more publicity than is necessary. So keep up the good work, Peter!

    Thanks.
    I assume you mean the HBD blogger with the initials SS? He does have some interesting social observations, though I find the whole HBD topic sort of depressing and pointless (some things are perhaps better left un-discussed).

    As for the Well-Known Sex Blogger, I’ve long since given up trying to figure out which of his experiences are true, and which are either exaggerated beyond recognition or completely false. Of course his followers, who can be counted on posting 150+ comments each day, believe everything he says is Absolute Truth. If the WKSB said that two plus two equals five, they would believe that is so. One thing I have noticed that in recent months he posts fewer accounts of his own experiences. While I believe that Game is mostly bunk, as I’ve said many times, he does makes some good points from time to time. In particular, I wish that years ago I had known of his caution against acting too needy around women.

  15. ? says:

    The point of all of this is not to scare the hell of you.

    Sh!t, Trumwill, it scared the hell out of me!

  16. ? says:

    I appreciated Sheila’s warning about low-functioning and otherwise undesirable people. But your response was also good: if sexual desire is at all in play, then our cognitive biases in favor of believing the best are well-nigh insurmountable.

    We’re (hopefully) conditioning our daughters to seek their father’s approval of any young men seeking a relationship with them, from dating on up. The theory is that this requirement will automatically scare away the dishonorably inclined. But the problem is, what if the suitor is unsuitable? I’m not exactly sure how to handle that situation, but I am sure that a curt, “Not our sort” is probably not the most effective way to proceed.

    I should add that I look forward to the daughter version of this talk.

  17. trumwill says:

    Well okay, maybe it’s a little to scare the hell out of him. But I figure that making it too outwardly about that will be sort of like Mom’s overreach. “All sex can’t be that dangerous because lots of people have it. So Dad’s being paranoid because he doesn’t want me having any sex with anyone ever.”

    Regarding parental approval, one of the things that I did right in courting Clancy is that when I was gearing up to propose, I called her parents up and asked for their blessing. Had I asked for their permission, it would have been insincere because I was going to ask anyway and besides Clancy would not have liked the idea of two men discussing whether or not one can ask a woman to marry him. But I wanted to do something and felt that her parents would appreciate it and Clancy thought it was really sweet.

    Regarding your own daughters, I think that a combo-punch of having expressed certain desired characteristics in a boy that she brings home and insisting that you do meet the boys should be sufficient. Your daughters are smart enough to factor in your likely response and, while that may not be determinative, it will probably make them take a more scrutinous look at that boy expressing interest. That’s probably the best you can ask for.

    The other post will cover slightly different terrain (male motivations and discretion) and should be up some time next week, assuming that I can write it between now and then.

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