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Measuring Competencies in “Sex Education”

Otis Milburn is a nerdy teenager who has heard too much about sex from his advanced mom, a sexologist but has never actually done it. His friend, Maeve Wiley, on the contrary, is too developed for her age, as she was born into a dysfunctional family and has already tasted all the delights of such a life. Together, the guys come up with the idea to create a kind of interest circle at school, in which everyone can get advice on the psychology of sexual relations for a fee, and the guys are suddenly doing well in their new business. Otis, the protagonist, struggles with the concerning issue – getting out of his mother’s hyper protection. Despite the fact that his mother seems caring, Otis is unhappy that she violates his personal boundaries.

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Otis appears in the first season when he is 16 and faces puberty. The formation of the skeleton, nervous, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems in adolescence are still ongoing (Tetzchner, 2020). Consequently, clumsiness and angularity are characteristic of Otis, who feels somewhat awkward in society because his body is different from his athletic peers. When it comes to cognitive development, the leading activity for teenagers is intimate and personal communication, but this does not mean that educational activity in their life is something secondary, insignificant (Tetzchner, 2020). For adolescents, educational activities are not as relevant as self-knowledge, self-disclosure, self-realization, and other personal components. It should be specified that Otis is indeed is neutral towards his classes, but he is deeply concerned with establishing relations with somebody. The ongoing improvement and expansion of cognitive abilities lead adolescents to introspection and self-criticism. Otis criticized himself regularly, claiming himself unworthy or stupid, which is typical of a teenager.

The main character grew up in a family of two practicing therapists who got divorced when Otis caught his father, Remi, cheating on his mother, Jean, with one of the clients. That event led Otis to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and since then, his mother tried not to have any relationship to preserve the son’s psyche. In addition, Jean was overprotective, which was the central problem of Otis’ sexual development. He had several childhood friends with whom he was close; however, his friendship with Maeve was never strong, as Otis was in love with her all the time.

Considering the abovementioned information about his cognitive and physical development and relationship in society, it can be identified that Otis primarily struggles with becoming independent. Since his mother was controlling every aspect of his life, he now desires freedom. Otis can barely express his feeling towards the girls he likes because he knows that Jean would interfere. She even controls his sexual patterns and gives recommendations regarding their improvement. The mother causes mental trauma to him because of personal space invasions by discussing everything with him and expressing excessive openness. In general, the boundaries are eroded, which is surprising since his mother is a therapist, and she should know the basics of bringing up a teenager.

Bowlby’s attachment theory can be implemented in Otis’ situation since his mother attempts to develop an unhealthy attachment to her son. The theory suggests that any child needs the love and attention of a guardian for full-fledged physical and cognitive development (Tetzchner, 2020). It presumes that by controlling her son, she hopes to build a trustful bond with him. However, her attempts failed because the teenager always tried to escape from her control.

The psychoanalytic theory developed by Sigmund Freud can be applied to the case. Freud identifies psychosexual stages of development, and if one of them is not completed in childhood, it will negatively affect a person during adulthood (Newman & Newman, 2020). In Otis’ case, the phallic and oral stages were damaged due to him witnessing his father cheating. Considering this, the protagonist could not express his emotions and hid them even from his closest friends. Additionally, when he caught his dad with a client, he cultivated disgust for any sexual connection. As a result, he had problems with bonding with girls and his mother and developing his sexuality.

Parental care acts as the leading form of parenting, and its level determines how much effort and time they devote to raising a child. Having hyper protection, parents spend a lot of time and effort on the child (Brenning et al., 2017). It is expressed in the desire of parents to surround the child with increased attention, to protect them in everything, even if there is no real need, and to protect them from imaginary dangers (Brenning et al., 2017). As a rule, care is needed not so much for children as for parents themselves, filling their unrealized and often a neurotically acute need for affection and love.

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In summation, hyper-protective parents tend to reflect their anxiety on a child bringing discomfort to their lives. As in the case of Otis, his mother Jean was overly controlling, which prevented the teenager from realizing his desires and limited his emotional expressiveness. Since childhood, his trauma has been suppressed by an excessively loving mother, who intended to protect others from danger and did not involve the manifestation of love.


Brenning, K., Soenens, B., Petegem, S.V., & Kins, E. (2017). Searching for the roots of overprotective parenting in emerging adulthood: Investigating the link with parental attachment representations using an actor partner interdependence model (APIM). Journal of Child and Family Studies, 26, 2299-2310. Web.

Newman, P. R., & Newman, B. M. (2020). Theories of adolescent development. Elsevier Science.

Tetzchner, S. (2018). Child and adolescent psychology: Typical and atypical development. Taylor & Francis.

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