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Life Arts    H2'ed 10/26/09

Daddy? When Am I Ready To Have Sex?

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As a self improvement teacher and lecturer, many times students have asked me what to tell their children about this extraordinarily thorny issue. As a father, I knew that one day my son or daughter would come to me and ask the prickly question: "when can I start having sex?" And after pondering this for years, I came up with a pre-emptive answer:

"When you can focus your mind, heart, and energy to produce legal goods and services for your community, earning enough money to support you and one other person, you are an adult, and ready to make that decision."

Adulthood is often referred to as the point of conation. While the dictionary definition of this term is ""the aspect of mental process directed by change and including impulse, desire, volition and striving," from a developmental point of view, it has been defined as the point at which we take full responsibility for our lives and our emotions, for the consequences for our actions. That means, at a minimum, responsibility for our careers (income), our health and fitness, and our relationships and sexuality. Considering that the primary biological purpose of the male/female dichotomy is the production of offspring (and it is foolish to try to ignore biology), we cannot avoid the implication that a most basic aspect of maturation is the ability not to MAKE children, but to provide for them, nurture them, and pass the cultural lessons that make it possible for them to be self-supportive human beings who can raise their own children in turn.

Note that this doesn't mean that you have to have children to be an adult...but rather that one cannot consider oneself an adult without the maturity, focus and resources necessary to keep a child safe. Until that point of financial and emotional maturity, it is reasonable to consider ourselves children, however protracted that childhood state.

So the answer to the question: When Am I Ready To Have Sex? Was answered, in my household, by the position that you are not emotionally, physically, and mentally mature until a child would be safe in your care. Only mature people can have mature relationships. And while it isn't necessary to be in a stable relationship, or married, to have sex you should at least have the possibility of making such a thing work. This means that some people are ready for sex at sixteen...and others aren't ready at thirty. Sorry about that. And if not? It might just be best to avoid situations that might produce them. There is a growing army of children raised by single parents who would be much healthier if both mother and father had given thought to being adults...before playing adult games.


Steven Barnes is a lecturer, teacher and author who created the breakthrough LIFEWRITING program of body/mind development. Learn more about him at: Contact him at:

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Steven Barnes is a NY Times bestselling author, personal performance coach, and martial artist. He has lectured on creativity and human consciousness at UCLA, Mensa, and the Smithsonian Institute. Steve created the Lifewriting system of (more...)

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