Have you ever imagined discussing the birds and the bees with your children? How about other people’s kids? Well, I haven’t really imagined either scenario. I’ve had talks with Stormy about how he should always treat the ladies right, especially because the chances are there will be more women fawning over him as he gets older (and I’m not just saying that because I’m his mama). But at 9 months old, I can’t say I’ve felt the need to have “the talk” with him. I know they say kids are becoming sexually active younger and younger but I am a firm believer that it’s not THAT young.
So I found myself a little unprepared yesterday at church when the topic came up. I’ve talked to the girls (ages 14 and 15) about chastity, keeping oneself pure and not doing anything with a boy, and I mean ANYTHING. No dates even. In our church it’s pretty standard practice that the youth don’t date until they are 16 and even then, they shouldn’t date exclusively and they should go on group dates. That’s not to say there aren’t teens at church who don’t abide by those standards and guidelines but for the most part it’s the case.
So yesterday our lesson was on, “Why should I treat my body like a temple?” The teacher started out by asking how we treat our bodies like temples and the first thing I hear from the girls is, “are we going to talk about chastity?” (note to reader this was said in probably the same way they ask their parents if they are going to have to clean because people are coming over for dinner). The teacher said, “a little” and we read the story about Joseph of Egypt and the girls snickered about Potiphar’s wife and how crazy she was. They questioned if Joseph only had one garment on when Potiphar’s wife grabbed it and therefore he ran out of there naked. To which I replied, “come on people, it was Egypt, of course he only had one garment.” (note: this is what my friend would say is one of my crazy stereotypes that has no basis).
We moved on from there to other things, other ways to treat our bodies like a temple. Like what we put in to our bodies, what we do with our bodies (piercings, tattoos, etc.) I don’t know how it happened because I’m pretty sure we had moved on to how drugs are bad, don’t do them and don’t get tattoos because you get old and wrinkly and that’s gross and the girls were saying what they wanted to do even though they knew they shouldn’t (what types of tattoos or piercings they wanted) and I cried from the corner all the reasons not to (i.e. cartilage piercings always make me think of goats, gauges can’t be undone, etc.) Then one of the girls says something about how she wouldn’t ever want to do it because you’d have to figure it out. All of us were probably stuck on piercings or drugs and so one of the girls said, “do what?” and the girl made a gesture and said, “you know, it.” to which the second girl said, “are you talking about sex?” and the first girl nodded and the second girl said, “it just goes in, what’s to figure out?” To which I threw my hands in the air in full panic and said, “congratulations! You have officially made me uncomfortable.” Not to mention the teacher and one or two other girls. Then I told them they don’t have to worry about figuring anything out at this time because they aren’t going to be doing anything…right?
Then the conversation went to transgenders (because one thing we mentioned was not making changes to our bodies because they are a temple and from God) and then on to hermaphrodites (except I seemed to be the only person in the room who knew that was the term). It was presented as, “say there’s a baby and it’s a girl but it also has a weenie.” …Suffice it to say, I’ve never been happier for the end of class.
But it got me thinking about how unprepared I was. I patted myself on the back for some of my responses and being able to cite some things for the questions but overall I am way out of my depth here. I have a 9 month old, I haven’t gone through this with kids before and here I am going through it with other people’s kids. The only comfort is that we are all the same religion so I know what I am telling them doesn’t go against what their parents believe. But what we believe is inching further and further away from what the world believes and how the world lives. Transgender issues are ones I never had to figure out, I never wondered if it was right or wrong and work that out because the world didn’t put people like Bruce Jenner on a pedestal and call him/her brave for what he/she was doing. These are things these girls have way more contact with so I can understand when they ask a question like, “well what if someone is uncomfortable in the body they have?” and they aren’t talking about feeling fat or hating that they have their grandfather’s nose. And they are trying to work out what they are told at church, which is obviously transgender sex changes are wrong; and what the world tells them, you’re a closed minded jerk if you believe a transgender shouldn’t have our support in changing the very nature of their body. I want to point out here that we do teach the kids to “hate the sin and not the sinner” and I may or may not have mentioned that in a previous post. Christ came for the sinner, not the perfected individual, but at the same time he never said, “it’s okay to sin and to keep doing it, I’m tolerant of you disobeying my law.” No, he told the sinner to repent but he loved the sinner nonetheless. So too we try and teach the youth to love everyone, to be a Christian to all but to stand up for what we know is right.
But I digress. I meant to talk about my preparation. Yesterday was an eye opener for me. I need to be more prepared to talk to these girls about the issues they’re confused about. If the girls are anything like I was, they may not be comfortable asking these types of questions to their parents but they seem pretty comfortable talking to their leaders about it (exhibit A = yesterday). But it was also an eye opener as a parent. I don’t want my kids 3-4 years away from moving out of the house and not understanding certain things, not understanding what I believe and what I want them to believe. I don’t want them to be so unprepared for when they venture out into the real world which will only get crazier and crazier than it is today. I want them to have a foundation, something they can come back to when things get confusing. Something solid and unchanging in a world that is constantly changing.
And now I find myself on a half soapbox when all I really wanted to do was write about how awkward life was for thirty minutes yesterday.
If you’re a parent or leader, how do you deal with these awkward situations?