My son Jonathan just started middle school and wouldn’t you know it? Two weeks after the school year began and a month after he joined his new tween tackle football team, Jonathan casually called his sister an X-Rated word to get her to stop whining about something. In front of my face, he told his sister Elena to stop being the slang word for a woman’s sexual organ. Yep, THAT word!
“Where did you get that word!!!?”, I asked him.
“Oh, it’s just something we say on the football team. I just said that to her because Elena was whining again.”
I was ticked and disturbed.
“Don’t you EVER use a bad word to talk about your sister or anybody else like that again,” I warned him.
It was in that instance of Jonathan uttering that Level 3 foul word that I realized that my boy’s age of innocence was practically over. And who am I kidding? Jonathan is going to a school this year that is both combines middle and senior high. The majority of the kids around him are not only saying foul words liberally but are quite possibly experimenting what those bad words mean.
Jonathan’s mom, my ex wife, and I have done the best we could to preserve his childhood innocence but we know now that its now beyond an uphill battle. It’s a lost cause. We’re now facing one of my biggest parenting fears: Puberty and The Talk.
A Warped Upbringing
I’m not going to expose any of my family members in this story but needless to say when I was just a small boy I did not enjoy the pleasure of innocence for long. By the time I was just SEVEN YEARS OLD (yes, really), I already knew and witnessed more things IN PERSON than many wild, untamed 15 year olds do today (no further details needed). The ONLY reason I did not get totally corrupted to become a womanizer, deranged pervert or worse is because of another very peculiar story about my grandparents that I will have to save for another day (I don’t have the courage to tell that story yet).
My son was barely able to stand on his two little feet when his mom and I busted him in his playroom having his first virtual kiss with a girl. My ex and I caught Jonathan quietly kissing the TV every time Carmen (Alexa Vega) from “Spy Kids” appeared in a scene. Coming from a long line of men who love women too much I remember both laughing and worrying that Jonathan had a sense of sexuality so young. (At least I was 5 years old before I had my first playground crush with Marilyn!).
Recently some of my family chided me for believing that my 11-year-old son, the Spy Kids kissing bandit, isn’t already fully aware about The Birds and the Bees. They may be right – and I may be TOTALLY naive because I want to believe in his innocence – but my dad/guy intuition tells me he has not fully crossed the threshold – YET.
Why I Fret about Sex
Many parents argue that sex is natural and that for pubescent kids it’s not only natural but inevitable so why not supply them with the knowledge and – maybe – even the access to condoms and other forms of birth control – so they can practice “safe sex.”
The first part of this argument is true but the second one is disturbing. It’s one thing to fully disclose to our own children what sex and birth control are because we don’t want other freaky pervert kids to “educate” them for us but to go further and give them birth control is just not right to me. That’s setting the standard dangerously low and half encouraging teens to have sex.
Call me old fashion (I really don’t care if you do) but I want my boy – and my girls – to aspire to a much higher standard. My approach for abstinence until marriage is certainly informed by my faith as a Christian and it may seem unrealistic in this day and age but so is faith.
The fact I want to give my children a faith-rooted version of The Talk does not mean I plan to mince words about all of the graphic facts. In fact, I don’t believe its wise for Christians – or people of most any other religion – to hide their heads in the sand and somehow magically believe that in today’s sex-saturated world we can shelter children from the presence of the sexually charged culture we live in. Parents, it’s EVERYWHERE so get a plan and don’t let your guard down! As if underscore this point a couple months ago I was casually watching an episode of a popular kids TV show when one of the two brothers who star in the show appeared to “peep” at a girl on the show while she was taking a shower. That’s the last time I trust any of these “kids” show except MAYBE “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
Teens are Not Animals
The truth is that I don’t really know what I’m going to tell my son about sex but this conversation is just days from happening. On the one hand I’m wrestling with saying to him that its universally true that we’re wired to have feelings for the opposite sex. On the other, I will tell him that it’s also true that God wired us to be different than wild packs of uncontrolled teen hyenas. God has given us – yes, even teenagers! – the ability for self control through love, wisdom and faith in Him.
I know there is a possibility that everything I instruct my son – and daughters – about sex will fall on deaf ears. If I could, I would wish they didn’t have a girlfriend – or a boyfriend – until college but that’s not my decision. I can set parameters but I can’t control their lives. All I can do at this stage of The Talk is equip them with knowledge and hope that what I teach them clings to their hearts. I’ll let you know how it goes.