I was coach of the Little League Moose baseball club. It was the championship game. The winner would be the Centralia Little League champions. My son, Tavita, was an eleven year old behind the plate catching and my daughter, Krista, a twelve year old, was on the mound pitching. I remember well the final pitch, the final strike, the final out; clinching our victory and the league championship.
What I remember most is what happened next. Tavita immediately jumped up, threw off his mask and charged the mound. He jumped into Krista’s arms. She caught him as they celebrated. Simultaneously the rest of the team instinctively rushed the mound too. Only when they reached Krista they were instantly reminded their pitcher was a girl. Awkwardly they stopped, looked at Krista and Tavita hugging, gave a few tenuous pats, and then began hugging each other. I so wish I had caught the moment on video.
It reminds me of the natural modesty between boys and girls. Those boys liked Krista. She was our top player. But she was a girl and not just “one of the guys”. My point isn’t whether girls and boys are equal or whether they should have the same opportunities. Remember, I have six daughters and some of them played baseball with the boys.
My point is this; God has wired our kids with a natural modesty towards the opposite sex. Our culture is trying to sear what God has provided as a natural defense. I’m not suggesting we lock our kids in a cell until they are of marrying age. Of course if your kids are approaching puberty, chances are you’ve considered that option. Instead let me offer a few suggestions if you want to keep that modesty intact (as much as possible).
1) Encourage their unique wiring. As our kids grew up we celebrated the fact they were a girl or a boy. At one point we even made our athletic girls wear a dress one day a week. They hated it. I’m not sure it was very effective. But at least it started a conversation. We backed off of the whole dress idea, but kept saying how thankful we were they were girls. We did the same for our boys. When they were rough we cheered and then began the process of teaching them to bring their aggressiveness under control. We wanted our kids to know God didn’t make any mistakes!
2) Be intentional about the whole sex education conversation. I just had a dad of a nine year old, recently ask me if it was too early to start having “the talk”. The answer is, I don’t know. The key is to ask God for discernment. Then ask your child lots of questions so you know him. Then, release information as they need it. There will be times you will over share and there will be times you will under share. Don’t panic! You don’t want to share details your son/daughter isn’t ready for. On the other hand if they are hearing things in school and have questions, then you want to be the one to answer. That’s why you must create an environment that welcomes your children’s questions.
3) We tried to be very conscious of what movies they watched or conversations they had when the opposite sex was around. It is possible to have material be appropriate for a group of boys to watch (especially if a dad is around for processing), but not appropriate in a mixed group of boys and girls. The first time they giggle, the next time they laugh, after they’re awkwardly quiet the next time, and finally it doesn’t bother them. That’s why we chose to pull our kids from the schools sex education curriculum. It isn’t as much about the material. The issue is we want to teach them and we don’t want it taught in mixed company. We add the spiritual conversation to the clinical information.
4) Create a rite of passage. Pick a time around when your child turns twelve or thirteen. Have them read a book on puberty and/or purity. We used Preparing For Adolescence. Meet with them to answer questions they might have. Then our recommendation is to create a rite of passage to celebrate their completion of the book and their entrance into manhood or womanhood. They are still a young man/woman, but they take an important step towards independence. A helpful resource for this is http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Modern-Day-Knight-Fathers-Authentic/dp/1589973097/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399364562&sr=8-1&keywords=raising+a+modern+day+knight.
Watching our kids grow into teenagers then young adults can be scary. Remember, God is not surprise with what our kids face; but we can be. So we must be intentional about how we teach our kids about relationships and sexuality. And remember, one of the key tools on this journey is the natural modesty God has put in them. Work hard to keep it intact. Six times in Song of Solomon we are instructed to not awaken love until its due season. That’s truth worth following!
There is so much more to this conversation and we will explore more in the future. In this area, what has been most helpful for you as a parent with your child? We’d love to hear from you.