Friday, June 2, 2017

Talking to our Children about Sex

This could be a  long article. It could include polls and links to charts and data. It could have a table of contents and an appendix, along with quotes by several leading experts in the fields of child development, psychology, and pediatrics.

But it isn’t going to be those things.

It’s going to be rather anecdotal. A big no-no in news writing and professional publications. Fortunately for all of us, this is neither.

My experience? I’m a mom of seven, ages of children range from 6 to 21 years. I spend all day, four days a week at a Parent Partnership Program as the primary educator for my kiddos. While there, I observe and visit with other families, large and small. I sit in some classes with my kids, I research curriculum, and occasionally cobble together a learning plan on my own, if need be.  That’s it, really.  I suppose my title should have been ‘Talking to My Own Children About Sex’, but then you might not have clicked the link. Yeah, tricky. But you’re here now. So, let’s go!

I don’t remember anyone talking to me about sex when I was growing up. Maybe they did, and it was just so terrible that I blocked the memory, I don’t know. I remember occasionally something being said about it, and being made to feel as though there is a lot of shame associated with it. It’s something that’s embarrassing, gross, inconvenient, secret.

In youth group during High School, sex was presented as something so amazing and delightful, but should be reserved for a particular situation. I mean, I see now what they were getting at, but it sounded tantalizing, instead.  

While no adult ever gave me an explanation of parts and functions, I attended public schools where my peers filled in that info for me, however muddled and confused their information might have been.  Guess what I learned?

There truly is a lot of shameful sex. People my age hooking up to get their ‘first time’ over with so that they could, presumably, enjoy every sexual encounter after that. Some friends had this idea that people are supposed to try one another out to find out if they were compatible in a physical way. Why would anyone think that would be the lasting foundation of a relationship? High School kids would have sex with one another to somehow guarantee a commitment of some kind. Some would have sex just to talk about having sex.

I’m not even going talk about the kids who experienced sex violently, as a weapon, abused and controlled with it. That truly is another conversation. A heavy, terrible one.

I talked with my kiddos about their parts, first. My kids were the ones shouting ‘penis’ and ‘vagina’ in the grocery store. You’re welcome. I wanted to know if anyone touched my kids, that they could be very clear about what was touched. I didn’t want to hear about any ‘no-no square’ or ‘hoo-ha’ business. I mean, my ‘no-no square' is really a personal bubble. Don’t touch me any place if I haven’t invited you, or we’ll be talking with the police, got it? I’m only sort of kidding. Even church hugs bother me a little. Not always, but, hey, I can read people pretty well, and if I feel like a hug is creepy or slimy, it probably is, and I will tell someone!

You know what’s great about teaching your little ones the correct words for their anatomy?  When you’re changing your baby girl’s diaper in a public changing area, and she’s old enough to say “Don’t wipe my ‘gina! It hurts when you do!” and people stop and give you disapproving stares, so you MUST reply “you didn’t care to use the potty, so now there’s poop in your vagina, and we have to get it out.” Then the gape mouthed stare-ers can only agree and move on. So much better than a child screaming “Don’t touch me there, it always hurts when you touch me there!”. I’m sure you’ll agree that speaking about such things in a frank manner is beneficial.

I’m going to get incredibly controversial right now. One of my girls refused to use the word ‘vagina’ because she is smack between older and younger brothers and was distraught that they have penises, and she doesn’t. She would always say ‘He kicked me in the penis!’ , or ‘mom, my penis hurts!’. She wanted a penis so badly. She would tell me all of the time. Everywhere. The doctor's office, church, school, the public library. It didn’t matter to her. If I were following the current climate, I would have let her have a penis. She would have become a boy at the age of 5. A boy who prefers pink, glitter, trying on eyeshadow. She would have been a boy that wants to be a girl.  Now she is 6, almost 7. She understands that her brothers have a penis and she has a vagina. She doesn’t understand anything beyond that. She knows that there is a difference between a boy and a girl, and that’s all. She doesn’t need, at 6, to understand beyond that. I have not influenced her idea of sex at all, really, because the only thing she knows about it, is that it takes a male and a female to make a baby. This is why our hens don’t hatch chicks, we don’t have a rooster. Age appropriate. I would be horrified if she had to know more about it than that at her age. In fact, society as a whole is still horrified when children are forced to know about sex, physically, so why should we force them to know about it beyond that?

My 8 year old made a darling comment at a birthday party recently. He walked up to me and shook my gut. Super. I just *adore* when he does that. Ugh. I gave him that look, you all parents know what I mean, and he grinned up at me, saying “I love your tummy for making me born! Oh! And your vagina, too!” He isn’t a quiet child. In the least. We left quickly.

My two older boys have been given more information than naming body parts and there must be a male and female for babies. They have been told about sperm and egg, and how the sperm, uh, gets there. They have been scarred for life. One of them said “Stop! If I need to know more I’ll ask, but I don’t think I ever will!”

Things happen with the bodies of young men, and often the result is something I don’t want to have to handle. Like pajamas and bedding. Too personal for you? Yeah, ME TOO! My boys will do their own wash! Gah! Tell your boys that this happens, or they will sleep in crusty things for the ages and you will wonder why everything smells so awful!  Yuck, yuck, yuck! NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THESE THINGS!!!!!!  

So, you lucky ducks, I’m telling you!

Also, don’t tell them that certain, er, personal activity will cause them blindness. I mean, that’s just plain stupid. Look up the info, though, and tell them that repeated self gratification can result in difficulty later. It’s real. Check it out.

And really, the point of abstinence teaching for our kids is this: putting pleasure before commitment is self serving and temporary.

The only way for anyone to understand that truth is, you guessed it...JESUS! Sunday School answer wins again!  

When we are teaching our children to love Jesus, and they grow in a culture of love, they will understand patience, goodness, and self control. They will know the why.

Don’t expect that people who don’t follow Jesus will understand, let alone want to see these results in their lives. They are going to want instant gratification. That’s what the world teaches, and that’s what looks the most appealing.

Teach your youngsters, teach your middlers, and teach your olders. Model Jesus. And make your boys wash their own bedding.

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