Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

You Better Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Photo by Hey Paul Studios
Every year my sorority hosts an event to empower youth called Youth Symposium. Chapters throughout the country do it. A local chapter asked if I could fill in for a presenter who had to cancel. She was a doctor scheduled to talk about sex and self-esteem. Most of the girls who attended were in middle school. I invited a colleague who is an outstanding youth and does mental health advocacy to co-present with me.  My sorors asked us to just speak about self-esteem.

Well, when we got there, the girls were insistent that we talk about sex too. It was hilarious. When I asked them to write questions about self-esteem, they didn’t have many. But when I told them they could include sex questions, WHEW those girls got to scribbling. I actually applaud them for speaking up for what they wanted. I figured I could handle the sex talk. I’ve written about black sexuality, have presented on sex and mental health, took classes on human sexuality and physiology, and I was in middle school once. I got this. Right?

I’m preparing myself to answer questions like, “What is ejaculation.” Or “When a woman gets pregnant why…?” What was I thinking? They wanted to know, “How do you say no to sex?” “What’s the difference between a booty call and when he wants you to come over?” “What does it mean when a woman likes rough sex?” All of these questions led me to believe some of the girls are probably sexually active. I wasn’t asking these kinds of questions until my 20’s, especially the one about rough sex.  Mind you, these aren’t high school students. They’re middle school girls.

One student, who looked no older than 13, told me a guy was pressuring her to have sex. She asked him, “Do you want to pay child support?” She shut him down!

We answered their questions. And I didn’t judge because I wanted them to be honest. My colleague and I encouraged them to ask whatever they want because we’d rather them learn from us than the hard way.

Teen pregnancy is supposed to be down. But as the CDC reports, teen pregnancy is highest about African-American and Latino youth. And the girls we spoke to were black and brown. One girl asked, “Why do teens get pregnant?” I answered there are multiple reasons: lack of access to birth control, lack of education about sex and sexuality, esteem etc.

 While teen pregnancy is low, pre-teens are having sex. And sex means intercourse or oral sex.

We still spoke about self-esteem as well. If I knew they were prepared to cause a revolt if sex wasn’t being discussed, I would have been more prepared. I would have encouraged masturbation and talked more about boys being accountable for their sexual behavior. So much is put on girls, but we need to tell these horny little boys to keep their zippers up or get them a bulk supply of lotion to take care of themselves.

Another thing I found just researching articles is that a lot of youth don’t use protection when they have sex. I hope you’re talking to your kids about sex. I imagine it’s not easy to think that your baby girl may be having oral sex. Or your son is poking girls with his one-eyed monster. But these kids are doing it! And if they’re not doing it, someone is trying to get them to do it. Or it’s on their mind. To some degree they can’t help it. Listen to the music, especially today’s hip hop. Most of the mainstream songs are about money, clubs and “hoes.” And I still don’t get why rappers call girls hoes when they sleep around with a lot of women. Doesn’t that make them hoes too? I hear some of those rappers sleep with men too. But I digress.

Another reason why some of our youth are turned on is the internet. Remember back in the day how hard it was to get porn? The magazine aisle in the bookstore or grocery store had them. But they were covered in plastic and I believe you had to be a certain age to buy them. What young kid wants to walk up to a CVS register with a Penthouse for everyone in line to see? Another way was boys went through dad’s collection. That’s a lot of sneaking. Now, kids can just look on their phones for porn and no one has to know.

After our presentation I contacted my teenaged sister and told her to ask me ANYTHING about sex. Just talk to your kids, educate them. It makes a difference. My mom taught me about sex but I had aunts who made themselves available to me when I didn’t feel comfortable talking to my mother. Sex ed, having people to talk to and making school a priority kept my undies up until college.

Talk to your kids. I’m telling you it makes a difference. And don’t make them feel bad about having sexual feelings. I told the girls that it’s okay to have sexual feelings. It’s natural. Sex feels good. Making out feels good. Heavy petting feels good. But early pregnancy and STDs don’t. And remind them, both girls and boys, that there is more to them than what’s between their legs or what they can do with their mouth. Their value doesn’t lie with their sexual abilities or willingness. They have so much more to offer the world.

Just FYI… Here’s a great personal of teen pregnancy from

Here’s some info from about having the “sex talk” with your children.


  1. This is so true. My children are still really young( 9-8yrs ), but we've had discussions because I want them to feel comfortable with this information.

    1. That's great. I think when kids are more informed, they're less likely to make mistakes. When I was around 7 or 8 I used to stay up late on Saturday nights and watch Dr. Ruth. She had a talk show that came on after SNL in the Bay Area. I liked watching her because she was small and had a funny voice to me. Of course the show was about sex. So the next day, I would ask my mother all of these questions about sex. LOL But she didn't get mad. She answered my questions and asked me where I got this info from. I told her and didn't she forbid me from watching the show. I learned a lot from Dr. Ruth. Sometimes my mother says she did too good of a job raising me because I haven't given her grandchildren yet. :)


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