S.E.X…. Yikes! What do I Tell My Kids?

S.e.x. is just one of those awkward topics. Not that it should be, or has to be. But it is. However, like anything else that is awkward, if you push past the initial ‘did you really say that out loud’ feeling, it’s not that bad.

Having five children, now ages 10 through 17, we’ve been around that bend a few times. In fact, for those of you who are truly skittish about the topic, you may want to avoid a casual dinner at the Metzger’s house. You may lose your appetite if the ‘taboo topic’ surfaces. It isn’t an everyday occurrence,  but it happens, now and then. Just often enough to horrify those who think such conversations should be left for the week before the wedding.

So what should we tell our kids, and when? What is appropriate? What should they find out the week before the wedding? Or, more accurately, what should we pretend they don’t know by age twelve, of fourteen or eighteen?

Whether it’s bathroom talk, or exploring, in some secret place, children know far more than many parents think they do. The only thing that’s worse than no information, is wrong information with no healthy teaching. And that is what silence affords countless kids in today’s world. Particularly those in Christian cultures, especially those in private schools and ‘closed culture’ circles.

Think back to your experience. How old were you when you first knew about sex. Not necessarily ‘what’ it is, but about it. The intrigue. The fascination with the difference between male and female. The way a woman’s tummy gets big and round and then, miraculously, smaller right after the stork drops off a baby. And then there are animals, doing ‘it’ shamelessly in public–how old before you figured that one out?

My point is that kids know things. Some adults pretend they don’t in order to avoid the awkward truth about s.e.x. and ‘that’ talk. Realistically, if we figured anything out before age sixteen, our kids will likely know as much at age ten or twelve, as we knew at sixteen. And if they don’t learn it from us first, they will likely have a warped view of it.

If ever there was a time and an era when kids need to hear the truth about sex, and long before they get married, it is now. It isn’t possible to take the family to the grocery store, let alone the mall, without being confronted by it, so we might as well push past the discomfort and give our kids the truth–God’s pure, unadulterated truth–and equip them for life in an over-sexualized world. If we think it was bad when we were young–for those of us over thirty-five–it has not gotten better.

We owe it to our children to teach them well. It will help them protect themselves from abuse, and will give them good reason to wait for marriage to enjoy sex within the confines of God’s plan.

And, yes, I do believe this is still the best option in the twenty-first century. And do-able, if we equip our families.  Old fashioned? Not in my opinion–or God’s. But, either way, the alternative is not a risk I am willing to take. I will endure the awkward moments to equip my family the best I know how, so they can make wise choices and, by the grace of God, manage well the wonder of their sexuality.

S.E.X…. What do you tell your kids? The truth. They deserve it! They’ll figure it out either way, one way or another. The advantage to you telling them is that it wins trust and equips them for life if you tell them.

© Trudy Metzger

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Sexual Abuse & Violence: Learning on the Farm… Basic Lessons on Sex

Having grown up on ‘Old MacDonald’s Farm’, with about two of every kind of animal, you would have thought we were building an ark. Add to that a random selection of old tractors, plows ‘and such’, as well as a machine shop with massive lathes, drills, presses and other machinery, and you have the ‘Harder Homestead’.

Photo Credits for all photos: http://www.freefoto.com

My guess is that you’re anticipating a ‘birds & bees’ type blog post, based on the natural behaviour of farm animals…. But, while there’s something to be said for that, I’m speaking about farm machinery and safety. The more farm kids are educated, the safer they are. And my parents were strict about farm safety.

Dad, especially, would ‘lay down the law’ and, with his temper, we knew he better not catch us slacking. I observed more than one fit of rage that resulted in someone receiving a thrashing. I narrowly escaped at least one such punishment.

We didn’t always honour those rules. When our parents were gone we took what we thought were calculated risks, though I realize in hindsight these could have cost someone a life.

A favourite was wrapping my hands around the ‘lift’ on the front of the tractor, interlocking my fingers firmly, and then Wil would slowly raise me into the air, crank the steering wheel as far in a given direction as possible, put the tractor in reverse, and give it as much gas as possible. The tractor would spin around in a circle, and the I would swing almost straight out, flying through the air. Who needs Canada’s Wonderland?

Photo Credits: http://www.freefoto.com

Mostly this risk-taking was instigated and executed by my brother Wil and me. It was all fun and games because no one lost a limb or a life. And, since we never got caught, the consequences never out-weighed the thrill. But I seldom hear of a farm accident now without thinking back to those days and knowing it could have been us. It’s a miracle all sixteen kids lived to experience adult life, and survive to this day, save one step-brother who died in infancy long before I was born.

My point? We risked lives, abusing machinery, and we did it for a temporary ‘feel good’. In our case we were taught safety and warned appropriately, and still chose to experiment, when parents were not around. We thought we were being responsible enough, and didn’t intentionally cause harm. But it would all have turned out differently if one of us had lost our grip, tipped a tractor or had another accident and broke a limb, or, worse, died.

Had we not known the dangers, with no training on how to use equipment, we would likely have been reckless to a greater extreme.  As it was, we were risk takers with standards and a conscience.

It’s easy to see this in the day to day life safety. It makes common sense. But in the areas of sexuality, where the consequences are potentially devastating, many have this notion that silence will produce the best result. Hoping, somehow, that by saying nothing, no perversion is planted or introduced.

While we are silent, the enemy is talking. At every turn he is lying to our children. Whether through sexual abuse, through over-focus on covering every bit of skin (thereby over-sexualizing and objectifying people), or by the pornographic material that is so easily accessible, not to mention plastered everywhere you go. The enemy is not silent. And children are not blind, or naïve. If the only teaching they get is what they see when they’re out and about, or what is done to them, then their sexual identity will be very warped.

Whether they are abused or not, and whether they choose to engage in inappropriate sexual activity or not, they will have an unhealthy sexual identity if we don’t teach truth.

If we spend the formative years of their life teaching them that sex is bad, secretive, or ‘dirty’, then that is what they will ultimately believe and live. If society teaches them that it is fun and appealing and exciting, within the context of sinful behaviour, and they choose to experiment, they will be confused. Because of guilt they will believe that it is ‘dirty’, just as they were taught by Christians, and it is also fun and exciting, just like society teaches. That is a problem. It gives the enemy the power.

It is our God-given privilege and duty to teach our children the truth about their sexuality, that sex is beautiful, God-ordained and designed for marriage between one man and one woman. Age appropriate, honest answers should be given when children ask questions. Body parts should be explained, using proper terminology. It teaches respect and dignity.

We owe our children the truth. They deserve to be equipped, and need to have a healthy awareness of their sexual identity, because it plays directly into their view of God, and their perception of how He sees them. When they are faced with situations, when no one is around to watch over them or tell them what to do, they will more likely to make wise choices if we have given them wise counsel.

In the upcoming posts I will speak more to this aspect of teaching our children well, using some of our experiences as family.

I welcome your thoughts, your questions and your input, either here, or via email. (info ‘at symbol’ faithgirlsunleashed ‘dot’ com)

© Trudy Metzger 2012

Return to 1st post in Sexual Abuse Series