*I share this experience with you, hoping that for those of you that will go through this, this will give you something to consider in talking with your children. – Not to say that I did it perfect in any way shape or form. Good luck to all of you!Dallin came to me and Tiffany the other day and had a question. A question that we knew – and hoped – would come. Hoping that the question would come to us rather than somebody else, like a friend or TV or the Internet. The question surrounded around Tiffany’s gospel doctrine lesson the next day concerning the woman found in the midst of adultery that was brought to Jesus to get his take on it the situation. Tiffany was bouncing some ideas off of me in the kitchen and Dallin, the astute learner, apparently was paying attention.
Somewhere in our discussion he stopped us and asked us, “What is adultery?”
Tiffany looked at me, I looked at her, and we started, awkwardly, into the foray of intimacy. Both of us have in some ways been preparing for this day. Though this was not all that precedented. A few years ago Dallin brought home a book or somehow had obtained a book about the body and at that time a few questions had been asked and were answered. But sex was not a topic that he brought up, and figured that a naïve 7 or 8 year old should stay that way a few more years. We were just hoping, and praying, that we as his parents would get the opportunity to talk to him before any peers or others would get to him. And at the right age.
We lucked out, or so it would seem. That is, if you consider 10 years old the right age to figure this out. He was innocent in asking, and in our response he continued to ask questions. So as quickly as the discussion began, I turned to him and asked him if he would give me some time to consider his questions and that we would talk a little bit later that morning. He smiled and agreed, and went on his merry way.
I was however, much more subdued, as well as prayerful, hopeful – and decidedly nervous. My hope was that I could talk to him in a way that wouldn’t be threatening, embarrassing, or simply wouldn’t gross him out. Having read some books and pamphlets on the issue, as Tiffany and I both thought it would be helpful to know how to approach the children before the issue would arise, I quickly went back to re-read some of the literature and remember some of the thoughts we had in teaching our children about this procreative power.
After a short time, I invited Dallin to talk to me, which he eagerly did. My intent was to only give him what he was asking for, or at least give him enough information to satisfy his curiosity, and leave with him feeling like he could come talk to me when more questions arose.
My intent was to answer questions he had, and add a measure of understanding to what consequences choices will produce. I was then astounded at the questions the boy – turning quickly into a young man – brought up as we discussed body, mind and spirit. He continued to put two and two together to ask how certain things worked and why. I was also surprised at the relative maturity he brought to the discussion, not being overly sensitive to the topic at hand nor being lustily inquisitive. We discussed a range of topics that covered the anatomy of men and women to the function and biology of how children are created, from the emotions that are generally encountered to the spiritual issues that needed to be considered. We talked about the feelings that he will, and even has, experience(d) and how to deal with those. We talked about pornography and the reasons why it is enticing, which helped him to understand why we need to avoid it like the plague that it currently is.
All in all, it was not overly detailed. My fear is that such talk will encourage experimentation or that he will wish to learn more from sources that are not wise for a young adolescent to turn to. My hope was that I gave him enough information to understand the powers our Father in Heaven has given us, about the changes he will be expecting to both body and emotions over coming years, and to know that he can always turn to mom or dad if questions come up (though I am expecting that he will turn to dad for more answers than mom – just a guess).
I think I was successful (though time will continue to tell) as he asked me a day later if he could talk to me. Of course, I said yes, and he proceeded to ask me some questions about things he has done or seen and felt. We had another good discussion and left with both of us feeling like our relationship with one another had grown a size or two that day.
The world, I think, is scary out there – more so today than when I was a child – and it was scary then. On the way to work today, I turned my radio on to the talk show I often listen to and they were talking about a report of 11 year olds having sexual relations. You hear about reports about the percentage of teens having sex and the number of teen pregnancies. Sometimes, I think we are stunned by such news, but you turn on the TV any night and any kid watching TV will see or experience some form of sexual exploitation. We don’t often turn on the TV for that reason. Go to the grocery store and the magazines make checking out an uncomfortable setting – for me and for my children. The Internet continues to be a quick place that anybody can get pornography at any time they want it, young or old. It continues to be harder and harder to find movies that don’t include a scene or two or more that shows explicit sex. Shows that my children want to see. And we wonder why the children of today are ‘experimenting’ earlier and earlier?
One of the questions Dallin brought up concerned a scene out of a movie, rated PG, that we watched probably a year ago. He recalled a woman scantily clad in a dream scene. He asked me both why I watched it and why I allowed him to watch it. I don’t recall the scene – which both is good and bad - but I told him that the world will sneak this kind of material into otherwise good shows. I should have done something about it at the time, but sometimes we get lazy in combating Satan and the natural man. It sneaks up on us and sometimes we don’t realize it – or sometimes maybe we don’t want to realize it. It made me appreciate that my boy watches me and I have to be that much more on my guard – to protect myself as well as my children.
We ended that discussion by both of us committing to help each other avoid explicit material either of us is exposed to – in music, movies, TV, Internet, or other media or means.
I am now less scared for my young boy. I know that he can turn to me with questions. He knows that I will talk to him without it being embarrassing or threatening. I know that he will be faced with yet more salacious and enticing material, both because it is, and because he will continue to change his mind about girls (though after our talk, I suspect he is getting there already!). But I know that he can trust me enough to include me in the discussions. I want him to know one day the greatness that can be had in a wholesome, wonderful, monogamous, intimate relationship – that can’t be had any other way.
Good luck to all you parents that have young children. I feel I have been lucky. Tiffany has been a great teacher in our home. I can’t express my gratitude enough to her for staying in the home, raising solid, wise, and brilliant children. Giving them opportunities for growth, and giving them assurance that we as parents will answer questions that come in life. It makes my job as a parent so much easier.
Below are some resources Tiffany and I have read in preparing for this experience.
Parent Guide – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints publication. Even if you are not LDS – check the resource – it’s an excellent Christian guide for those that espouse similar guiding principles. – Also, one that I think many LDS members are not even aware of.
Focus on the Family website – www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting – good insights and thoughts to consider.
And They Were Not Ashamed – Laura Brotherson – Last three chapters are about how to teach children about the whole gamut of sex.
When all is said and done, you are the parent, you have the right and responsibility to teach your children correct principles at a time that they need it. It may start when they are young, and you will likely continue to teach them these things up to marriage and possibly beyond (though I don't know - just a guess - I hopefully won't be there for quite a few more years).
Tiffany made a side comment that she finds it both funny and sad that this 10 year old still believes in Santa Clause (and yes, we all do in some sort or fashion), yet now knows one of the last and greatest secrets we adults hold. Irony, indeed.