Archives For Christian Parenting

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Talking with our children about sexuality is sometimes hard. :)  In my last post, I explored the reasons why this important topic is so often avoided or put off.

I have already determined that I am going to talk about it even though it makes me uncomfortable.

My children are precious, and I will not leave them to find their own way about sex with the cultural mess we are facing. How about you?

Here are 8 keys for a successful plan.

 1. Make education your lifestyle rather than an event: The concept of "the big talk" is not realistic. For just as our children do not learn everything they need to know about history from one big talk, they will not learn everything about sexuality in one sitting.  

 2. Read up on the issue yourself: Just this past summer I read two books on Christian sexuality education and our kids. I know I need a continuing education on this topic, so I keep learning!

3. Find good resources for you and your children to share together: Do yourself a favor and put some tools in your hands. Of course, we want those resources to portray a biblical worldview!

4. Read the books aloud together: Let the author say the tough words for you.....but don't just toss the book at your child and leave the room. When the words come out of your mouth, it opens the door for the words to come out of your child's mouth when they have questions or issues.

5. Admit your nervousness: Remember it is okay that you feel nervous! I find it best to let my child know that I am nervous because this is a private topic, not because it is a "bad" topic. Let them know it is okay if they feel a little nervous too! It will put them at ease.

6. Do not demand eye contact: Young teens especially are self-conscious. It is all right if they do not make eye contact in these discussions or if they giggle or sigh. Let them deal with embarrassment their own way without reproving them. Sometimes a discussion in the car is good with all eyes facing forward. 

7. Use natural teachable moments: Daily life will give you a myriad of discussion starters. Use both the positive and the negative images around you to open the conversation lines. The more you do this, the more natural this will be. 

8. Read the Bible aloud: Do you realize how much of the Bible deals in one way or another with the issue of sexuality? Let the scriptures you read as a family lead you into teachable moments. Don't skip over the texts that are there to help us. (Try Proverbs 5 and you will see what I mean!)

When I talk about this list of suggestions with parents, I usually hear three common questions:

  1. What books and resources do you recommend?
  2. What should I tell my kids at what age?
  3. Which parent should talk about which issues with the kids?

 So those are the questions I am working on next........

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I was finishing my back-to-school plans this past weekend and decided to take a peek into how I was doing with each of my kids’ sex education.

Hmmm. I think each one of them is due for more conversation time with mom and even as I consider it, I must confess....I sometimes feel nervous!

Now, how could the lady who constantly writes about this issue still feel uncomfortable, you may ask?

I would say for these 5 Reasons ....

1. Sex is a personal issue.

In our sex-saturated culture, I still believe this is true... and should be true! God designed the beauty of sex to be shared only with our spouse. So the sense of embarrassment we feel is only natural. But this should not stop us from talking to our kids!

2. I want my privacy.

I want my kids to know that sex within marriage is GREAT.... but at the same time, I value my personal privacy with my husband. This quandary can, unless I work through it, cause me to keep quiet.

3. I don't want to mess it up.

Sexual values and standards are such a big deal. At the thought of discussing them I feel “performance anxiety.” I want to do this right! And anytime something is making me nervous, I am more prone to procrastination.

4. I am worried that I will violate their innocence.

What would I do if my kids asked a question that I do not know how to answer for their age? What if I give them too much information too soon, or answer it in a way that violates their innocence? Those two questions used to paralyze me with fear.

5. I have to face my own failures from the past.

I am grateful to have arrived at the marriage altar a virgin. But that does not mean I did not make mistakes that I deeply regret! Who wants to hear from your own kids...."but Mom, you did...?" Facing bad memories is never fun. But those memories can either taunt us or motivate us, I figure.

As our kids grow and mature, Doug and I want to be the ones who take the personal effort to talk with our kids! We know it is a matter of life and death!

So....that is why I have learned to carry my anxieties to the Lord and make those conversations happen in spite of my 5 hindrances.

So how about you? Will you join me in updating your sex ed strategies this year?

Come back next time and we will talk about....

 

Sex Education: 8 keys to talking to your children...even if you are nervous!

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In one sense I hate to see summer go.... But in the other sense I love the thrill of new beginnings.  

We lift off into the new school year with high hopes of wide vistas, great adventures, and new triumphs.

But after 26 of these August rituals, I must confess to something rather unpleasant.

Long about 10 days after the start of school, I will experience a terrible letdown when my romanticized excitement wears off!   

We find ourselves back on the ground, wondering how to regain our momentum.

For no matter how many fresh new supplies I buy, we STILL seem to fall into some of the same old weakness traps we had last May!

Just yesterday I was making my own personal reality check when a new thought hit my mind.

balloon above landscape 85922275_758ba03b97_zLisa, what if this year you disarmed that overwhelmed, letdown feeling by making some new decisions?

What if instead of trying to pretend the "old giants" are somehow magically gone, you just went ahead and faced them now. And then built a new plan.

So here is what I did yesterday that caused me to wake up this morning much more prepared for the August ride.

3 Ways to Avoid the After-School-Starts Letdown

1. Remember
Go ahead and let your mind turn back to last April and May. I know the summer months are a welcome oasis (which is why I am NOT a fan of year-round school!)

But go ahead and remember the developmental challenges and stinky attitudes. But this time, do not let yourself fall into the familiar emotional pit. Instead use each one of those memories as a springboard for an honest conversation with the Lord.

2. Dig deeper
Here was my prayer:

Lord, what is really going on here in this issue? What is the root immaturity or wrong thinking pattern that I am not seeing?  How do I need to help my child grow out of this state? What fresh insight or perspective or tool do I need right now? How can I map out on paper a strategy and vision for my leadership over this problem?

Here are a few of the good things that happened for me yesterday during this step:

  1. I developed fresh motherly compassion.
  2. I began to see myself as a leader... instead of a victim.
  3. I discovered how one of my kid's strengths could be used to cover over a weakness.
  4. I found a website that taught me a whole new insight into one of the developmental issues that has been causing our household some stress.
  5. I made a plan to actually teach some new life skills to my kids, instead of just nagging them about how they are missing those life skills!

3. Do it now....don't wait

It suddenly hit me that for some of my plans, we did not need to wait for the official school start date! We just needed Mom to be like Nike and Just do it!

Maybe you can sense what I mean here. No fanfare. No grand announcement. No ceremony. Just a quiet stepping into what I already knew I needed to do.

And guess what? It worked! We took our first step toward greater maturity. And first steps are really what a good school start is all about anyway, isn't it?

I went to bed last night confident and at peace.  My Father God is so good to me! I am ready to take on the new year with a smile!

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This story is an example of a "teachable moment" that follows on the wings of Parent/Child Conversation #4 about brainwashing, propaganda and mind control. 

Are you looking for a way to understand how the media presentations and biases are permeating our personal worlds?  See Ken Blackwell’s article Elton John's Attack on Missionaries Way Out of Tune

Also see the Voice of America documentary he is talking about here:  AIDS: Living in the Shadows. 

Most of our kids would not even know the name "Elton John." But for some of us, he remains a name we have known for a generation. And his "work" here will undoubtedly deceive many.

Here are some questions for you to use as you discuss this as a family:

1. Outline Elton John's argumentation.
2.  He asserts that stigma is AIDS’ most deadly symptom.  How is this flawed?
3. Why do you think he would make such a claim? What are his suppositions?

4. Fast forward and see where this line of reasoning is headed. Do you think the author of this article has identified a significant issue?

Are you taking stories like this in the news and "debriefing" them with your kids? Doug and I are finding this is one of our most important jobs right now to help our children (and us) stand!

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Our kids are searching for their identity. Are you helping them form a healthy view of themselves? It's important!

Our children are under intense pressure.  Pressure to perform in school, pressure to live up to our standards, pressure to be “accepted” in their peer group.

They desperately need to sense that they are valued! 

As Christian parents we know that when life throws us a curve with its challenges and troubles, we are still valued by God

But do our children know how much WE value them? ...even when they mess up?

It is vitally important for us to understand…

Our children will gravitate toward those who value them.

Much has been written lately on young people who leave the faith after they leave home.  Often we blame it on the state of our culture when a principle root of the problem is that our children are not valued for who they are! 

What a joy it is to remember the words of Jesus…

Luke 12:24 "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; and they have no storeroom nor barn; and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds!

So… here is our helpful conversation # 5: "Son/daughter, you are valuable to me and to God!

Here are some helpful tools as you prepare for that conversation:

1. Pray and do a quick assessment. Do our children really know that:

  1. We love and value them not just for what they do, but who they are?
  2. We value the gifts and desires in them even when they do not exactly match up with our expectations for them?
  3. Even when they come up short, we treasure them and believe in them?
  4. When they are struggling with difficult issues, we TRULY care and will invest our time to be there to help them through?
  5. Of all the demands of life and daily duties they are more important to us than these other things?

2. Robert Lewis, the founder of “Men's Fraternity,” effectively communicates that our children are handicapped when they do not sense that they are valued by their parents.  I heard him emphasize that our children need to hear these three things (often) from their father and mother. You can use these phrases to help build your conversation.

  1. I love you
  2. I am proud of you
  3. You are very good at ___________.  (Fill in the blank)

3. Passing on a vibrant spiritual legacy to our children is one of our highest callings.  Being successful at this depends a great deal on keeping a HEART connection with them.  For more insight on this critical issue see my book, "Stick - Making the Handoff to the Next Generation." In this book, I outline 5 very effective tools.

As your children begin school this year, go ahead and stock them up on pencils, paper, laptops, and lunch boxes.  But do not forget that more important than these is that they begin the year with a deep sense in their hearts that both their parents and their God consider them highly valuable.

Image:  Marcos de Madariaga “Amar es encontrar en la felicidad de otro tu propia felicidad.” via Flickr Creative Commons
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