I Bet My Daughter Knows My Name...
I remember seeing this video a few years ago. I definitely laughed when I saw it. I mean, really, there’s a lot of comedy included in those few minutes of footage. However, after my giggling subsided, I began to wonder about the conversations that ensued when the taping stopped. …or if there actually was a conversation. This then led me to think about sex and sexuality education. There are so many differing opinions about who should teach it and when it should be taught. But while the grownups argue, our kids are left with no information and sometimes, begin to experiment without education or they seek the advice of their equally uneducated peers.
So when should we teach our children? I did a twitter poll and my awesome followers gave me great ideas, most which were similar to my own. While some people gave specific ages (7 or 8 years old), others said we should give information as our children ask questions, of course, on an age-appropriate level. When speaking about sex and sexuality education, I like to use my own experiences to explain my opinions.
I love my mom. I have a great relationship with her and I thank God for choosing her to be my mother. As an educator, she always encouraged me to seek more information. When I would ask her various things, like why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th when the Bible doesn’t exact a date of Jesus’ birth, she’d direct me to the World Book Encyclopedias she spent so much money on. …and now my family calls me “Google” because I’m full of lots of random information I picked up while reading those expensive encyclopedias. When it came to sex, however, Mama didn’t leave me hanging. She used every opportunity as a teachable moment. If we were watching Oprah and the topic was teenage pregnancy or if the news mentioned a report about HIV/AIDS, my mom would turn off the TV and talk with us. She made sure we understood the messages we were receiving and gave us an open forum to discuss our ideas and feelings. I’m certain that I was able to make good sexual decisions because of my mother’s willingness to discuss sex and sexuality with us. And yes, she discussed sexuality in a loving and accepting manner. She made it clear that she would love us no matter who we loved. Now that, friends, is powerful stuff for a kid to hear and retain.
A few nights ago, I watched a documentary on sex and sexuality attitudes among teenagers across the pond. In Great Britain, the legal age to consent to sexual activity is 16. However, the teens they interviewed were as young as 14, explaining they had their first sexual experiences as young as 11 or 12. One interview that stuck with me showed a mother and daughter answering the question of what sex should be. The mother described sex as an expression of love while the 15-year-old daughter shook her head and plainly said that sex is something to do to pass the time that can be pleasurable. The mother didn’t try to correct her daughter’s attitude, but looked kind of sheepishly into the camera as her daughter expounded upon her ideas. Throughout the show, the mother explained that she had not been the best model for her daughter in that she would quickly integrate boyfriends into her family life and this may have shaped her daughters ideas about sex. And there it is: the idea of modeling appropriate behaviors for your children to follow.
Although the Bible does not teach specifically on sex education, the first part of Proverbs 22 delves into the importance of discipline in various areas of life. One of the most quoted is verse 6:
KJV: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
MSG: “Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.”
I don’t think this verse expects parents or caregivers to be perfect examples. We all make mistakes, which is why Jesus’ sacrifice is so important to the Christian faith. However, even in the shadow of the Cross, we should not use that as an excuse to continually miss the mark. I’m not going to go in depth about sex outside of marriage because I’ve done that in previous posts. Even still, we need to talk to our kids about it. With single parents, that doesn’t mean you can’t date; it does mean your kids shouldn’t meet every person you date. Not every date should have access to your child and their developing ideas about sex. Yep, I said it. Don’t bring everyone home to be “Uncle Charlie” or “Aunt Sally” when you haven’t decided who they are to be in your life. This modeling could be monumental in how they view sex (as seen in the earlier mentioned interview).
So back to the above video: how can they use that as a teachable moment? Since the child looks fairly young, they could just ask her what she thought was going on. She may have thought they were playing a game, who knows? I think they could just meet their daughter where she is and honestly answer questions on a level that’s appropriate for her. Also, they could use this as an opportunity to explain that they sincerely love her and each other and that if she has any questions, she could reach to them for answers. Although embarrassing, it could be a moment of growth for both the parents and the child. However, in just laughing about her imitating the sounds she heard and not addressing the issue, there’s no growth and a learning opportunity has been lost. So friends, what would you do in this situation? How would you address it? And whose name should she know?