Mental Health, travel

A Perfect Autistic Vacation

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I’m not much of one for traditional vacations. Apart from the fact I can’t even afford a haircut right now, typical summer holiday spots can be rather intimidating to this moth. It’s the crowds, the noise, the not being familiar with where you’re going, or what the place will be like when you get there.

Oh, I can survive all this, and I have, on many occasions. But now that I’m older, and definitely not as willing to brave the unknown as previous times in my life, I can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that I have some pretty firm requirements for my future vacations.

Ideally, it will be someplace I’ve been to before. This doesn’t limit me for choices, in fact, since I’ve been to several states, and England as well. And there are many areas I’d like to go back to, for the second or even third or fourth time.

I’m going with someone I know. This is how I get around the tricky things like trying to attend Realm Makers (because no matter how ready I convince myself I am, a boatload of anxiety would result). It really doesn’t matter that I haven’t met in person anyone I know from blogging or social media who also goes to this event; the fact that I would recognize them, and they me, and that I’m at least somewhat familiar with them, and vice versa, would be enough to get me on the plane and to the hotel.

Indoor locations are prime. Outside things scare me more. (Camping is totally a no.) So anything held at a hotel — especially with air conditioning — or that involves a lot of time spent inside buildings (minus unpredictable insects and weather) will be much more attractive.

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As long as it isn’t too extended, I can handle going by plane or train. I would actually prefer this to a long car ride (anything over 2 hours one way starts to grate on my nerves). I can deal with turbulence on a transatlantic flight, or a train ride up to around half a day. This means that I don’t have to restrict my destination to somewhere within 50 miles of my house.

It needs to be a place I can seek out some peace and quiet. Amusement parks, concerts, and sporting matches are waaaaay out of my comfort zone. All that yelling and strange people jumping around, and speakers turned up to 11. And I can’t do rollercoasters (I’ve never been on one in my entire life, and that will most likely never change).

Museums and art galleries, historical sites, the ballet or theatre (where people are expected to keep their lips zipped during the action) all sound a fantastic getaway to me.

I get to stay on dry land. I love the sound and smell of the ocean. I love watching those David Attenborough programs about the sea and marine wildlife. I love doing all that from the safety of my own home, or at the very least no closer to the water than 6 inches away. I can stand on the beach and watch the waves roll in and out for quite a while. Then I’ll go swimming in the heated pool in the hotel.

Look, do you guys realize just how many scary creatures there are in the oceans? And some lakes and rivers, for that matter? I’ll never go to Disneyworld or Universal Studios Orlando because I am petrified of swamps and alligators and giant snakes. You shalt not catch me anywhere near the Everglades. I’ll go to California, because there I can safely tour Harry Potter land far, far away from the sharks in the Pacific.

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There have to be a variety of dining options. I’m not as sensitive an eater as many on the spectrum, but I still need to have plenty of choices. I need to be able to gain access to restaurants that won’t automatically put condiments on my sandwich or salad, will offer non-spicy foods, vegetarian alternatives (when I’m feeling stressed, sometimes a tofu or mushroom dish really hits the spot), and won’t give me a hard time about any of this.

I can’t have unfamiliar roommates. So sorry to anyone who’d ever like to volunteer to share a room with me at, say, Realm Makers; but if I do this, I will become a puddle of utter sadness and desperation. At the end of the day, I have to get control of the noise level in my space, the TV (and the remote), the phone, and who else I’m around (i.e., no one after a long stretch of extroverting).

(When my family’s driving me crazy, I sometimes indulge lush fantasies of checking into a local hotel all by myself. True story.)

The natives have to be English speakers. I’m aware this really reduces my chances of ever going to Europe (and I would secretly loooove to go to Paris and Prague), but I just don’t have a wide enough slot for managing jet lag and language barriers.

(Maybe I can one day sell enough books to hire a translator to come with me??)

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My last guideline is actually the least problematic — I prefer cooler places. That means California in January, not June; Cape Cod in September (it’s still beautiful in the off-season); Australia and New Zealand in fact have winter during summer for us, so if I went there now, I probably wouldn’t sweat to death. And England only gets really hot for about two weeks a year, and the rain truly doesn’t bother me, so I’d be golden on that at any time on the calendar.

And there we have it! Maybe next summer I’ll pitch a tent in my own backyard and fill up the air mattress, and when we’re stargazing I’ll pretend we’re actually afloat on a replica pirate ship off the coast of Barbados?

(Or maybe I’ll get super lucky and Realm Makers will be held about an hour from my house.)

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Autism, Fantasy fiction, writing

The Speculative Fiction Conundrum

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So, here we are, almost to Realm Makers! (I’ll let you scream as much as you want, by the way, if you’re nowhere near ready.) It’s a big deal, because this is one of the few Christian writers’ conferences that focuses on speculative fiction (that simply means sci-fi, fantasy, retellings, dystopia, alternate histories — all the stuff we can’t know for sure or may be impossible in our world). Although I won’t be there in person, my books will be there (recent drama happened related to that, so cue my own screaming). But I really hope to make it to the conference physically at some point, since I have yet to have the opportunity of attending a writing conference that takes Christian worldviews and the “impossible” stuff and combines them, without batting an eye.

I’m proud to be a spec fic writer; honestly, I don’t see it conflicting with my worldview in the real universe at all, and it actually really rankles me when other people claim the opposite. There are, unfortunately, problems with writing spec fic that go beyond the religious discussions. It can affect many aspects of your author life.

For example, I’ve had a couple of people say they “didn’t get” my work, but they simply never read fantasy (and therefore, I truly wouldn’t have recommended my titles to them). While there’s no hard and fast rule that fantasy can only be read by people who have previously read it, there simply are folks who will never pick up a fantasy genre book in their lives. And while that may hurt your feelings as an author, for the most part, it’s genuinely nothing personal. It’s all about individual taste.

Spec fic has yet to be seen as mainstream, though. No matter the number of superhero and aliens-from-outerspace movies topping the box office, how many TV shows are produced involving time travel and AI and the zombie apocalypse, regardless of the fact that names like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are consistently on the bestseller lists, we’re still considered a “fringe” element of entertainment and the arts.

And tossing aside what I said about not taking it to heart, sometimes that’s tough. When it comes up in conversation that you’re an author, and people ask what you write, and you say, “Fantasy!” and they get this glazed look in their eyes. When you purposefully wait until a certain librarian is on duty to request particular titles, because you really don’t want to have to spell out every single word to the poor frazzled person at the check-out desk. (Yes, this is absolutely my life.) When you can’t watch the season premiere of a favorite show because the rest of your family is watching the playoffs for whatever sport.

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So many of us don’t hold a grudge against the stuff we’re not into; we’re just bored by it, and we’d rather spend our free time analyzing what intelligent life on another planet may look like, how we’d get out of the labyrinth, or learn to cook Middle-Earth style. We don’t say to people, “Oh, my god, don’t waste your time with soccer/antiques/gardening!” Why, then, do we get such rolling-eyes, derisive-snorting, under-the-breath-laughing responses when we admit what our interests are?

It’s why lots of us are willing to travel hundreds of miles to attend a conference with tons of other people we’ve never met, just to be around folks who feel like friends within minutes, when you can simply walk up to somebody else and compliment their Star Trek shirt, and you spend the next 2 hours having coffee with them.

As a spec fic artist of any sort, you can sometimes feel isolated from the rest of your community. Thank God for Twitter, because I found a whole bunch of Christian geeks, before I even knew such a thing existed! And since my local library hired a staff member who watches/reads most of the stuff I do, I truly feel like my immediate social circle is widening. And though there are plenty of very valid reasons I won’t be able to go to Realm Makers, I do still wish I could — because I would, for once, feel at ease extroverting.

Occasionally, we can’t even win with the “mainstream” spec fic folks — the ones that feel faith and spiritual practices are ridiculous. Not that this covers all of them, not by a long shot. But indeed, the blending of Christian beliefs and fantasy or sci-fi or dystopia is a relatively new thing. Too many well-meaning people of the Church felt it was necessary to do away with superstitions and folklore throughout the centuries, until the idea of otherworldly creatures and dimensions and physics were reduced to Disney films. (This perspective also told agnostic/non-believing SF people that there was no room for God in their art, which has been just as damaging.)

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I take issue with so much of this, and I know I’m not alone. So, yes, we can all band together, and hopefully work through our own differences about religion and politics (the unmentionable subjects), and maybe, one day, the entire spec fic community will be on the same page (yes, pun intended).

Especially since Christian SF authors and artists have a lot of valuable stuff to contribute. We can encourage people to think about God, about society, about laws, morals and traditions in a very different way to those who write/draw/act/produce media minus a faith/spiritual-based foundation. We should be invited to the table, to openly debate philosophy and ideology, science and legend. Nor should we receive backlash from churchgoers for including magic and myths and fairytales in our works that also search for God and Heaven.

And we should be promoted just as much as non-SF artists. We shouldn’t get relegated to the back of the metaphorical room simply because of what we write or read or watch. We should have the chance to reach just as many people as our mainstream counterparts.

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I’m facing this quandary right now as I attempt to fix/work more on How To Be A Savage. It’s a completely contemporary piece (one of my very few), and there are days when I know I just can’t. I have to write about unicorns and mermaids and poohkas that afternoon.

It’s important for me to write HTBAS in a “real world” vein, since it’s addressing serious topics in the real world, and I want to make an impact on these things that I feel are necessary to hash out, for the sake of our children and future generations. Sometimes we can’t run off to a distant galaxy to do this (as much as we’d like to, myself included).

And I already know (without running a poll or anything) that this Own Voices novel will interest more people than my fantasy series. There are folks who won’t hesitate to pick up HTBAS, and have never heard of The Order of the Twelve Tribes. And all of this is hard for me not to take personally.

Yet, my goal for Savage is to educate people about autism, on a broader scale than my autistic characters in Volumes 1-5. There are different standards, different expectations — of my own making.

As I said, the conundrum.

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self-publishing, The Invisible Moth

Healers and Warriors: Now On Sale!

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So, a little something happened…

This release is in fact occurring a day or so earlier than I’d hoped for, so I’m excited, too!

If you go to Goodreads and search for “Healers and Warriors Daley Downing,” you should be able to find it and add Volume 3 (and Volume 1 and 2, and the short story collection) to your TBR. (The Barnes & Noble link works on the H&W page, too, by the way.)

*Shameless self-plugging disclosure. I just released my 4th book, I get to do this today*

For those of you attending Realm Makers this year, there will be a limited number of autographed copies of Volume 3 available. Along with a few autographed copies of Masters and Beginners and Rulers and Mages! So if you have yet to start reading the series, this could be the perfect way to get going!

*Okay, edging off the awkward sales pitch*

A massive thank you again to those of you whose faith and support in this series has never wavered. Writing and publishing each title is a wondrous and weary undertaking, so your ongoing encouragement and enthusiasm has always provided me a strong pillar to collapse on when it all feels a bit too much, and one to cheer from when we achieve another success.



self-publishing, writing

News on How To Be A Savage and Volume 3 (Plus an Abundance of Cute Rabbits and One Wombat)

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Good afternoon! (Where did the morning go?!) It is SOOOO Monday, regardless of it being summer… Anyway, the last couple of nights, sleep has not always been my friend, so I’m a little out of it. BUT, there are developments, new items, and impending interesting stuff to reveal to you. Hence, I go forth, to blog, in what is hopefully a coherent manner…

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One: Volume 3 of The Order of the Twelve Tribes, “Healers and Warriors” is near to its official release! Whether its online debut will happen prior to mid-July is yet to be determined, but I do know that its in-person unveiling will occur at Realm Makers this year! In fact, a few special autographed copies of each book I’ve published so far in the series shall be available at the conference (for those of you going), watched over by The Kyle Robert Shultz. If you aren’t attending RM, don’t worry, Volumes 1, 2, and 3 shall always be available on Barnes &

Two: After experiencing a great deal of brain-ache and technological sorrow with Wattpad, I’ve decided not to worry about uploading new sections of “How To Be A Savage” on the website for now. To those of you who happily checked out what I did post, thank you so much for your support and your feedback. I simply do not have the energy or the patience to devote to a website that doesn’t feel very user-friendly to this user.

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Three: I am changing my already-altered-once plan regarding HTBAS. Once I decided to include the non-fiction parts, and started on the research, and tried to apply this to my writing, without sounding like a textbook… I CANNOT DO IT, MATE. My mind hurts. I feel like I regurgiated all the most unpleasant aspects of my life and added Latin medical terms. SEND. HELP. Preferably in the form of fluffy cats and red velvet cake.

So, I am back to fictionalizing everything. But it will still be a rather raw and brutally honest account in many ways. Most likely I shall dissolve into a puddle of melted moth before it’s over. Reason # 23 I am completing writing this particular project and publishing it prior to the end of 2018. I’d like to survive to achieve the rest of my authorly goals.

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Four: High among these goals are the Super Secret Project (in collaboration with White Fang). It’s a spinoff from The Order of the Twelve Tribes (check for hints in Volume 3!), a standalone, and features a character that White Fang helped create. Look for that to hit Barnes & later this year!

Five: To be published about the same time — my prequel to The Order of the Twelve Tribes. For the moment, I’m calling this Project Tangerine. More details forthcoming!

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Six: If I get all of this done without perishing… In early 2019, I will absolutely release Volume 4, and then… There will be a Volume 5. This is a decision that was made within the last couple of months. Several tangents popped up in my head that I really wanted to explore more in the “canon” series, and I just can-not-do-it-all in 4 installments. So, although I have just increased Kyle’s workload, luckily his excitement at the existence of a 5th book is overcoming needing to create additional covers.

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Seven: If the world is extra kind to me and I make it through all of that, I may go for a concept that’s been ticking away in the back of my way-too-busy brain for a while — a collection of “lost tales,” short stories or novellas that were inspired by subplots I either cut out of something or wanted to delve into further but didn’t get around to yet. Let’s call that Project Mango.

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And finally… If you need some quick summer reading, don’t forget to check out my short story collection! Entitled “Dreamings and Muses,” it can be found on Barnes &, and features a really lovely cover by the talented Alea Harper!

All right, back to your regular scheduled programming! Hope you’re all having wonderful weather and getting to sleep in!

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Encouragement, writing

Let the Rebellion Begin!

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Recently, I had an interesting experience.

I’d decided to join a “writers’ group” in my local area. (Note: I’m not anywhere in this post stating where that is at the moment, nor calling out any particular individuals. That’s not the point of this discussion).

Anyway, I gathered pretty quickly — after a couple of meetings — that the way this group had been operating was not really what I was looking for, nor how I understood the concept of a “writers’ group” to apply.

Each month, a theme would be assigned, and the group would, on their own, write something related to the theme, then they’d all meet up again. After everyone read what they’d brought, the conversation tended to go off into non-related tangents of memories, social issues, and eventually what the next month’s topic should be.

There was absolutely no feedback given on each piece regarding literary elements, tone/voice, characterization, setting, atmosphere, or plot. Of course, many of the pieces did not have a majority of these aspects, as we were all (bluntly) told that the group traditionally focused on autobiographical, non-fiction content (nothing more than journaling, really).

No one present (except for me) has a work-in-progress. I was also told (again, point blank) that sharing fiction with the group wasn’t really appropriate.

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Excuse me? Isn’t this the whole idea of people who like to write gathering together for the purpose of writing? To explore, to learn more, to hone your skills in the craft?

I also noticed that others were interested in the exploring, the learning, the honing part, and that they appeared to be shut down by one, very vocal voice.

Ahem. Please pardon me while I clear my very fiery bookdragon throat.

So, here’s what I’ve done: I’m looking into starting my own group, which actually would focus on the craft of writing.

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When you’re passionate about something as wonderfully varied and diverse as literature, that passion should not get shoved away by a pushy minority declaring what “fits” and what “doesn’t.”

It’s exactly why we have genres. If you want to write historical fiction, go for it! A contemporary romance, sure! Murder mysteries! Science fiction! Epic fantasy! Poetry! A collection of Post-It notes you left taped to your irresponsible teenage children’s foreheads! Sure, why not?!?! Whatever you want to write about, chances are, somebody out there will want to read it.

And why can’t we do this in a number of ways? Novels. Essays. Magazine articles. Poems. Novels of essays and articles. Blog posts. Fiction. Non-fiction. Combining the two. Fictionalizing real events in your life — with plenty of plot and dialogue and pithy puns.

The “rules” for what and how writers “should” write are treated very loosely these days, and I’m glad for it. We get to share so much with the world by expanding definitions and conditions.

Trying to box in people’s creativity just doesn’t work.

Experiencing this the other week really threw me.

And then I decided to do something about it.

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This will probably turn out to be a big undertaking, and I’d appreciate your prayers! I’m honestly not sure what lies ahead as this venture gets underway, but I’m excited, and hopeful!

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Knowing Your Roots

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A couple of months ago, I was filling out some school forms for White Fang, and as I wrote down his last name, something that I should’ve known all along hit me like a ton of bricks: He’s part Jewish.

The realization should have come before he was even born (considering he has his father’s surname, and I always knew what that is). And I’ve been studying the origin of names since I was in college; as it’s a subject that, as a writer, I’ve always been interested in. Why do people choose the names they do for their children? How does their heritage and ethnic background affect this decision? When you’re trying to name characters, these factors are very important to consider if you want your fictional people to feel real. Selecting and assigning a name to someone is a big deal in pretty much every culture on the planet. So your fictional folks should recognize that and apply it, and your readers will very much relate to it.

Anyway, so here I am, it turns out, with a part-Jewish son. And I, the well-researched writer, was totally clueless. (Oops.)

When I told him my revelation, he looked at me and said, “You realize this changes nothing.” Because he wouldn’t call himself religious, definitely more spiritual, and doubting at that.

But I looked right back at him, and thought, My dear, it changes everything.

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Being born Jewish does not simply determine your religion; it means you are part of a whole culture, a world history. It’s just the same as being born into any nation, any culture, anywhere. While religion is often an important part of this, it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the end of the story.

Knowing your roots is necessary, to help you understand not just where you came from, in literal geographic terms, but also to help you learn more about yourself. While your personality and hobbies won’t be predestined, based solely on your DNA and ethnic lineage, we still need to know these things about ourselves.

Everything from food and clothing, industry and trade, art and architecture, varies depending on your culture. So much of all of that comes from your nation’s history. Knowing your roots should not be seen purely as a road map of where we’ve gone wrong; it needs to be the path towards grasping where your family started, and doing what, understanding how times were different and how across the ages we’ve changed, and how to craft a future that benefits us all without forcing us to forget, the bad or the good.

I tend not to do things by halves — so, I’ll admit that, yes, within minutes I was planning to cook only kosher for White Fang, buy him a Torah, enroll him in an online Hebrew class, measure his head for a yamaka, and arrange his pilgrimage to the Western Wall. Ahem. What? I got excited. But, he’s right — just knowing where his last name comes from doesn’t alter everything overnight.

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And he is part Jewish. I need to remember that. The rest of his heritage is just as important.

In England, many Hebrew families intermarried with Christians from about the Middle Ages onwards. Considering that White Fang’s father told me his family was Church of England, my guess is this practice was so common, a lot of Brits alive today may not even be aware of their non-WASP genes. So, my son is as much British as he is Jewish — and that’s still, just as, cool.

From day one, I’ve made sure White Fang knows about his dual nationality, his combination heritage, and encouraged him to find the best of both. I want him to see the landscape for as broad as it is, to grow along with his increasing knowledge of the rich variety of lives that have been, that are, that may one day be in this world.

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So, while he won’t be landing in Israel or attending a synagogue anytime soon, White Fang does have information he didn’t have before, that does make him more himself.

And while I have slight misgivings towards my validity as a researcher about just how long it took me to catch on, I am happy — for his sake, but honestly, for mine as well — that I finally did.

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Children's Health, family

The Scandalous Post

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How good am I at marketing? See, by this title alone, I have sucked you in. (Honestly, I spent more time thinking about what to call this post, than what was going in it, or which cat pics to use this time.)

So, now that I have you sitting down, here we go: Let’s talk about s-e-x. No, no, not like that! Not explicitly, graphically, or even inneundo-y. *Totally a word.* I’d like to discuss how much of it there is in modern media, and how it is damaging to our children.

See? No need to run away from me in droves. But, I will be rather frank about some things — hence the title. Sex is indeed a private, yes, intimate matter — however, there’s a vital difference between keeping the details of the “bedroom scenes” of your life under wraps, and not talking about the stuff we need to be talking about.

That stuff includes making sure our kids are well-informed about where babies come from, and all the down sides to what is meant to be a good thing.

As the mother of a teenage boy, I am aware that certain thoughts and feelings at his age are natural, and it is my job to inform, all the good and the bad, and encourage him to participate in this massively cool thing of waiting to become sexually intimate with another human being. Until he’s at least 30. Or married. Or I’m dead. Whichever comes first.

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There are bunches of reasons for me to encourage my kids to wait. And while spiritual convictions are among them, that’s actually not near the top of my list. Right up there is all the terrible diseases they might catch — something which TV shows of the 21st century don’t seem concerned with mentioning, while they have all the characters sleeping with each other in every other episode.

Also, what happened to making the point of how hard it is to become a parent before you’re ready? And the fact that being promiscious does not make you feel better about yourself — it makes you feel worseAnd that such behavior opens you up to the chances of something really awful taking place — yes, I mean non-consenting incidents, which are actually crimes, and it’s tragic that our society is only starting to really crack down on that.

I really want to see more episodes of TV shows (particularly programs aimed at the age 13-17 audience) include discussion on rape, peer pressure to have sex, choosing to abstain, the role alcohol and drugs can play in making a bad sexual decision, abortion, STDs, and birth control. And, yes, we can talk about all of this in frank terms, showing both sides of the coin, and without filming scenes that make many viewers cringe over how much skin they’re being unnecessarily exposed to.

We have to. Too many teenagers (since was a teenager, so this has already gone on too long) are being sent the message that sex with whoever, whenever, and wherever is awesome. When I was young, the precautionary tales about unplanned pregnancy, STDs, and rape were everywhere. But somehow, that didn’t get through — because the rate of abortions and sexually transmitted infections among adolescents skyrocketed.

Everybody agrees this is horrible. But for some reason, that doesn’t stop TV producers (many of whom have children themselves!) from filming 21-year-olds-pretending-to-be-17 getting their kit off to fool around with their boyfriend/girlfriend of 3 weeks.

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We need much more of married couples kissing and then waking up, in pajamas, in the same bed on TV. We need more movies that are about keeping your long-term relationship strong, and not just with sex. We need to bring back the days of on-screen parents being worried when they catch their kids making out with a peer.

I want my sons to be terrified of having sex before they’re mature, committed to someone they love, and ready to deal with the stick turning blue (hopefully by then, excited and wanting the stick to turn blue). But I also don’t want them to think they have to become monks. Sex, when it’s between two consenting adults who are in a loving, respectful, trusting partnership, is beautiful. It’s what God made it for. In that context, it’s a wonderful expression of those emotions, and there’s nothing wrong with it at all.

So here’s the tricky bit — how do you convince 12-year-olds sex is bad and frightening and something to stay away from…while also convincing 18-year-olds that sex with your spouse is nothing to be ashamed of, and should, in fact, be the goal?

What kids watch on TV and in movies should not form the basis of their values and principles. We parents and guardians and caretakers should teach them about laws and rules and morals, and it really rankles me that too many of us who are doing that get flack for it. What in the world is wrong with telling your kids you really want them — for their sake! — to wait to have sex? Yes, please, folks, teach your children about birth control — because that’s something important for even consenting, mature, married adults to be aware of. (As someone who loves and deeply respects children, I consider unwanted children to be one of the saddest things in the history of creation.) But DON’T let 15-year-olds think they can just run all over town, debasing their bodies and self-esteem, simply because they’re using birth control. How is this going to produce emotionally secure gentlemen and ladies of the future?

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This may not go over well with some people, but I honestly don’t approve of this trend among some religious families of only “dating to marry”, especially not when it comes to adolescents. Not letting teenagers date — (*let them! just have rules! restrictions! boundaries! duh!*) — is keeping them too sheltered and won’t aid them in finding the “till death do us part” relationship they’ll aim for the second they leave home. Young people need to be in certain situations that help them cultivate respect for the other gender, learn the social rules of occasions like going on a date, and how to behave properly in front of someone you’re very attracted to.

And, guess what — you WON’T marry the first person you ever go out with. You just WON’T. A tiny, tiny portion of us will. Teeny tiny. So microscopic you can’t even spot it with the Hubble telescope. AND, there is NOTHING WRONG with dating someone (even 2 or 3 someones) and then it doesn’t work out and you don’t get married. I’ve been (gasp!) divorced and remarried myself, and life experience and perspective forms the strong basis for this statement : It is much, much better to have doubts about your impending marriage and call it off, rather than go through with it and then get divorced a year later.

Okay, back to my original point. In this day and age, pornography is a literal mouse click away, and it’s our job as parents to make sure our kids don’t get access. It’s our job to teach them how such a thing objectifys women, destroys souls, spreads disease. Our obligation to tell them we don’t approve of them engaging in anything more than first base. And then to explain what “first base” means. It’s our duty, as part of protecting our offspring and looking out for them, to make sure they want a happy, healthy intimate life with their future spouses, and kids of their own — and that they also recognize that, in high school, they’re mentally and physically not ready, and that all of this is okay.

We’re the first line of their defense. Let’s be proud of that responsibility.

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