I was at a dinner party last weekend and perhaps the “dooziest” of doozy questions came up out of nowhere.  I should point out that I sometimes like to stir the pot at gatherings like this with crazy debates and ideas, but this time, the debate was already raging when I happened upon the scene…

All the dudes were outside and the women were all inside (as sometimes happens).  We, the men, were outside talking about nothing (not sex, sports, cars, or breasts).  I went inside to grab the barbecue tongs, when I was cornered by the women and asked for a male perspective. For the briefest moment, I was excited to represent my gender…

“How many partners do you hope your daughter has before she gets married?”


“You know, sexual partners, how many notches on her bedpost before she ties the knot??”

After I vomited in my own mouth, I stammered, “I don’t know… NONE?”

Well, I will never get that 5 minutes of my life back as I was berated from all sides – it was no holds barred on the dad with no male back up in sight!

Apparently the women had been talking about high school sweethearts, past partners, and then to sexual compatibility.  In this group of women, there was huge diversity in the number of sexual partners before marriage ranging from none to “several”.   Everyone seemed proud of their individual choices, which I think is relevant and important.

One of the more animated moms jumped up and shared her first sexual experience of being told to “turn off the lights, lie still, and be quiet!”  Her comment spoke to her simple reality that if she had never experienced sex with anyone else, she would never have known anything different.  For the rest of her adult life, she would be under the impression that all women must have 3-4 minutes of “foreplayless”, awkward and unsatisfying sex….

Then one other male sucker came in (who should have stayed out on the deck, as he was annihilated for his answer) and was asked the question.

“What?  Sexual partners should my kids have before marriage?  Well, none for my daughter, and like 15 or 20 for my son!”

The moms ripped him a giant new one.

So, if you could choose… How many sexual partners would you like your children to have before they get married?

I don’t want to start a debate of religion, saving yourself for marriage, and/or purity rings.  I know plenty of couples that are blissfully happy having saved themselves for their one and only, and describe very fulfilling sex lives.  I also know other people that preach the opposite and feel that their path to sexual fulfillment could not have been reached without this variety of sexual partners and experiences.

Knowing what you know now about sex, adult relationships, and yourself, I am asking you, if you had to choose a number for your children… what would it be? But perhaps most importantly I am asking you for your reasoning.

None? 1?  2?  5?  10?

Obviously, none of our parents gave us an acceptable number.  When you were making these types of choices, what influenced you the most? Was it peer group, the person you were dating, media, or less direct messages from your parents?

Would the number be different for your son versus your daughter?

It is?  Shame on you…

It isn’t?  Good!  Let’s not perpetuate the double standard on studs and sluts…

Reality is that the ‘times are a changin’ with kids experimenting sexually younger and younger.   I hope my children are old enough and mature enough to make good choices, but the statistics are as scary as the stories told from the back of the school bus. 

My hope is that my children VALUE sex and intimacy with their future partners.  How can we teach our children to value their bodies and that sex with someone else should be special?

I will never forget sitting beside my father’s hospital bed in Toronto after his brain surgery to repair an aneurysm.  He was severely drugged and sedated.  Over the constant beep of monitors and equipment, (later to the shock of my poor mother), he proceeded to tell me about their wedding night, ‘his first time’, how utterly terrible he was, and that “you kids today have it so easy with all this sex…”

They have been married 50 years next year so I guess they figured it out.  You may be reading this as one of the lucky ones who found your incredible partner right out of high school.  Or you may be reading this, nodding your head, knowing you didn’t discover great sex and perhaps real orgasms until you experienced different partners.

I know and accept that I have forced you WAY out of your comfort zone today and you hate me for talking about sex and your children in the same sentence. But the reality is that we are raising someone else’s wife or husband, and at some point, in the future, they will be having sex.

I want my children to understand that love and sex must to be linked together, mixed with tons of mutual respect.  All I can do is give them the tools to make these decisions.  After all, it’s their body – their choice?

Like most of my articles, my goal is not to tell you what to think, but to start the conversation (and arguments) in your circles of influence.

So please bring this idea up at your next birthday party barbecue (especially if you don’t want to ever be invited back)… Just throw it out there,

“How many sexual partners do you hope your children have before marriage?”

Then grab a drink, sit back, and listen to the fireworks (or crickets).   Either way, please report back to me on what you hear…

Until next time…