I am the totally cool mom when it comes to this stuff. My kids get straight information when they ask. Prissiness and prudery are not only not allowed in this household, they are derided as unhealthy dirty-mindedness. I don't get embarrassed. The only way I've ever embarrassed my kids about sex and sexuality is by being enthusiastic about the subject in front of their friends. I'm working on that one... No subject is taboo, and they know it. My children have never felt they needed to be coy about this aspect of their lives, unlike the 20 year old daughter of a friend of mine who, even though she is on the pill and brings her boyfriend to spend the night, gets indignant when mother says anything to indicate that she believes her daughter is sexually active. How stupid do they think we are, again? My children are entitled to their privacy, of course, but they don't have to hide things to protect mum's squeamishness. Anyway. I love the column Savage Love, which appears in a free local entertainment paper each week. I let my kids read it. The youngest (just turned 12) isn't particularly interested yet, finds it either "boring", "gross", or responds with "I don't get it". That's okay. She gets the information as she needs it, from a trusted and reputable source. Me. The other two read it. Why do I let them read something so explicit? Because Dan Savage, for all his in-yer-face, aggressive, tough-talking persona, is very kind to the sexually innocent. Take this weeks's column, in which a teen complains that a 17-year-old friend is so obsessed with a character on Yu-Gi-Oh! that she refuses to have anything to do with actual boys her own age. They all fall short. "She constantly complains that none of the real guys ar our high school as are good as [him]. What can I do to help her?" Savage's reply (will I get in copyright trouble for this?): "Your friend's obsession is juvenile...but I wouldn't call it pointless. Like a lot of high-school kids, your friend probably feels pressured to be sexually active...Most not quite-ready-for-sex teenagers hide behind Jesus' skirts when their friends ask why they're not fucking, but nonreligious kids have to be a bit more creative. Some, like your friend, invent grand/tragic sexual obsessions that prevent them from dating mere mortals. Your friend doesn't want you to think she's unhip, or that she isn't just dying to have sex, or that she isn't heterosexual, so she's convinced you (and perhaps herself) that she's obsessed with [the cartoon character]. And you know what? That's just fine. Finding fault with all potential real-life boys is a way for her to avoid sexual experiences she's not ready for. So just back off, okay?" He's abrasive, he uses colloquial terms - some would call them vulgar or even profane, but there's no doubt what he means, which is good. But his bottom line? No one should be pressured to have sex before they're ready. This is a good message.