Writing this makes me blush, but this is relevant. It has become common for parents to keep their kids in the dark about (just spit it out) sex and healthy relationships with the false idea that ignorance is bliss. They think that the less their kids know, the less likely they are to do anything illicit. While it isn't good to know too much at an early age, the opposite extreme of not knowing anything to the point where you are unprepared for a relationship when you come of age and/or thinking that all sex is inherently evil and dirty can also be dangerous.

My mom said that if I ever had questions about it, to simply ask her, but she was not one I'd be comfortable with in asking those sorts of questions. Even when I was curious about boys, I didn't (I was 12 or 13 years old, so it was with the thought of having a boyfriend in the future when I was ready). It was obvious she did not like the idea of her kids dating.

It wasn't until recently, at the age of 22, when I began dating a close guy-friend and he is the reason I write this today. Dating, in the sense of having a committed relationship with another, is supposed to lead to marriage. You're seeing how compatible you'll be. In a marriage, should the relationship work out, you're supposed to have kids (my boyfriend and I are Catholic and according to the book of catechism, a marriage is invalid if you have no intention to have kids). In order to have kids, you have to consummate the marriage, and that's where I'm not comfortable.

I was not looking for a relationship. As a matter of fact, my sex-aversion is the reason why I'd been avoiding one. Agreeing to keep it celibate and have no kids is a no-can-do considering the Church's rules, along with the fact that my guy wants to be a dad one day. The thought of consummating the marriage and having kids just to please him, just to follow some rules makes me sick because I'm sure I'll never be able to respect myself again. If I can't get over the fear, he may have no other choice but to find another girl, one who isn't scrupulous and afraid of everything.

Thanks, Mom. Your keeping me in the dark about this has jeopardized my relationship. Heck, a relationship that I haven't even come out and told you about yet. You still think Erik and I are just friends, maybe. If this is a natural and normal thing, why does it feel weird, why does it feel wrong when it isn't? You never talked to me about dating, insisted it was "inappropriate" to bring up. When my grown-up cousin asked my sister and I "Either of you girls have boyfriends yet?" You should've said "I think they're too young. I'd rather have them wait until after high school, or at an appropriate age" instead of "My girls are not interested." In the name of being good, I suppressed my interest in knowing anything about boys and up until recently, had been vehemently against marriage, considering it animalistic because, in my mind, all sex is dirty and disgusting. Everyone told me I was far from right on that one, that it's a wonderful thing shared by a man and wife, but I could not and still cannot see the beauty in it. You thought you were keeping me innocent and pure, Mom, and you did but you also set me up for a dating life that may be bound to fail.

You always said that staying single is okay, that married life is slavery to never-ending chores and the needs of your kids (you had six of us in the name of being a good Catholic, not because you wanted that many). "Stay single," you told me as you dried the dishes. "Have a career, or become a missionary. If you don't get married, you'll stay happy." You said remaining single is the happier lifestyle, yet most conservative-minded folks are concerned that too many young people have no interest in getting married and having families. They claim that this is a "set-up for loneliness". So what is it? Am I enslaving myself by accepting Erik's love and devotion or would I set myself up for loneliness and regret if I turned him away? Am I a part of the problem by having no interest in marriage or a family? It sure feels like it, though it isn't because I'm selfish or a crazy feminist or anything like that.

I have a list of reasons and my coitophobia (fear of sex) is reason number one on that list. Reason two is not wanting to raise kids in this messed-up, far-gone world. Reason number three is because I never enjoyed living as a member of a family. Even in a large family, I felt alone. How can a family equate to happiness then? I'd rather die alone by choice than by alienation or neglect. However, I'm rediscovering happiness with Erik. It's too bad that I don't feel comfortable enough to open up to you about our budding relationship yet, especially after you used to slut-shame my sisters though they're still virgins. You dropped the hammer about purity to the point where a basic crush felt impure. When I first suspected that Erik liked me, I thought I had done something wrong.

Anyways, no more of this. My resolution this year is to focus on and enjoy the present moment. I shouldn't vilify my mother. Though I may be unbalanced, at least I turned out decent thanks to her. No parent is perfect. It's an awkward thing to admit, but parents should not keep their kids in the dark. When they are old enough, they should be given the talk and advised about relationships because one day, as mature young adults, they'll need to know that information.

To conclude, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is not the same thing as innocence. You can know how the birds and the bees work and at the same time not do anything illicit. Innocence lies in choosing not to do anything wrong. Ignorance does lead to fear. Sex is something unknown to me and it may be the case for other young people as well (though we're definitely a minority) so to us, it's terrifying. We are given the impression that it's something revolting and evil. At the same time, when we're encouraged to have relationships and marry one day, sex is part of that package. I still can't see it as something good. I doubt many can relate. However, while discovering the importance of balance and its place in a happy life, it's true that either extreme of knowing too much too young or knowing too little as an adult is unhealthy. One extreme can corrupt a body, mind, and soul. The other can corrupt a potentially healthy relationship, leaving good hearts broken, and resulting in a lonely life.