Four Moms Thursday- the Birds and the Bees

 Don’t miss what the other three mamas have to say:

You want specifics, and I am going to have a hard time coming up with any.  And there’s a whole more to this topic than just teaching your children that tab A generally goes inside slot B, and 9 months later, their baby brother pops out, you know?   Sorry if that was too crude.

 In general terms, it’s important that you appreciate the miraculous, wonderful, joyful gift of God that is physical intimacy between a married couple.  It’s important that you be careful about giving children a misplaced sense of shame- we do stress modesty, but we try to remember to say things like, “No, you can’t buy that- that’s the sort of outfit you would only wear for a husband,” rather than simply saying “No, that’s immodest.”  Or, when watching a television show or movie together say things like, “oooh, they kissed! Now they HAVE to get married!” or “Whoah- that sort of kiss is for married couples to give each other in private.”  Display affection with one another in front of your kids- let them see you kiss and hear you comment about what a handsome hunk your spouse is.
Do not call something bad if it’s only bad outside of marriage.

You can just say, “Mommies and Daddies love each other very much, and this love makes them want to do things together that only married people, and this is the way God planned for people to make babies, and we like it, and when you grow up, you probably will, too, but you have to wait til you’re married” and then hope for the best.

Recognize that children are individuals and process things differently.

When the HM and I married we were rather free spirits.  We thought nothing of wandering about the privacy of our abode in a state of nature, and we saw no reason to change this just because we had a child.  Until the day the child, a toddler of two, happened to stop and utter a matter of fact pronouncement- she glanced briefly at the living statue of David standing near by, and said, “Daddy, that’s ugly.” Only she was more specific about what was ugly.
We became less free spirits- one of us immediately and on the spot converting from state of nature within the home to state of seige, battle dress ready at all times.
So we learned something.  Theories don’t always fit reality.
My own parents tell the story of how I happened to walk in the bathroom one day just as my dad stepped out of the shower- and I ran screaming to my mother, “Mommy, mommy, Daddy is an ugly old man!!!”

When we had children, I believed in giving them accurate, clinically accurate, terms for all their body parts when asked.  I had to look them up sometimes, because I didn’t know myself, but I felt strongly about this.  Right up until the day my 2 year old clambered over the back of a church pew, slipped and fell, straddling the pew, and bellowed at me, “Mommy!  I hurt my ____________!”  You’ll have to insert the word here. It has three syllables, starts with a C, and was the cause of my instantaneous conversion from ‘call all body parts by their proper names” to “call all private body parts by the same silly, childish nickname so that you never experience this humiliation again.
The church pew, you understand, was in the church building, along with me, my daughter, about 230 other people, and my cathedral sized humiliation, which had taken on a palpable presence of its very own.
So we learned something.  Information without instructions on how to use this information and when not to can be more than a little awkward.

My parents tell the story of how when I asked where babies come from and Mother explained, I said in a shocked voice, “You mean to tell me that you and Daddy did that THREE times?!”  But I don’t remember that at all.  If you really want to communicate the facts of life to your kids, you will probably need to do so more than once.  And don’t assume that because your kids seem fine with what you tell them and have no questions that they really got it.  I asked the HG and the EC, my two married daughters, for help with this post- what did they remember about how they’d learned the facts of life, what did they wish I’d done differently?  Neither would tell me what I should have done differently.

The HG, however, says when she got ‘the talk,’ she was absolutely sure she misunderstood me completely and that it couldn’t possibly work the way I had explained.  She never told me this, however, and never asked for further information.

The EC says she got more of her information from the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book, which I kept in our bathroom at the time.  I would like to say I did this on purpose so that those who were interested could learn the facts in a clinical,  fashion, and it’s possible that this was what I was thinking, but the truth is, I do not really remember.  The Health Clinic Book worked for the EC, although Jenny says she looked at it once and was scarred for life.

Our kids learned a lot from watching our animals, and many families feel that getting some pets of both genders is a very matter of fact, low key way to learn about how creatures reproduce.  You might try this approach- but not, the Equuschick hastens to add, with dogs and cats you bred for the purpose.  There are enough puppies and kittens being killed in animal shelters already.  In addition to watching various animals being conceived and later born, my oldest six kids watched their brother being born.  Our most fastidious child didn’t like it, much.  The two oldest chose home-births themselves when they had children.

With my firstborn we watched portions of James Dobson’s Preparing for Adolescence. on an old VHS tape. I skipped some parts, probably should have skipped others, but by and large we found it helpful as a springboard for discussion.

With the others we attended a couple of seminars called Bold Christian Parenting and Bold Christian Youth.

Jonathan Lindval tends to be one of those polarizing names in homeschooling circles. People tend to love him or loathe him. We do not agree with everything he says, and we would not go quite so far as he does in his teachings on courtship. But we do agree with what he says about the allure of romance and the way that God designed physical intimacy into human relations. He explains that the physical relationship between a man and a woman is something like a car without brakes. It’s easy to get in that car. It’s very easy and quite pleasant to start rolling downhill. Picking up speed is not only effortless, it’s exciting and fun. But it’s very, very hard to stop the car and get out, because this car doesn’t have brakes. That’s because the physical relationship is designed for marriage, where you don’t ever have to stop the car and get out.  Our kids heard him say this, and then we talked more about this at home as a family.

They’ve read this post, which includes information like this:

Boys Need to Know:Physical intimacy is intoxicating like alcohol. It will cloud your judgment, inhibit critical thinking, and make you do things that later you may regret.While physical intimacy is usually a strictly physical thing for a boy, it’s a very emotional thing for a girl.

What girls need to know
Physical intimacy is intoxicating like alcohol. It will cloud your judgment, inhibit critical thinking, and make you do things that later you may regret. And the consequences for girls are usually more devastating than for boys.Physical intimacy carries profound emotional feelings with it for girls, but boys usually DO NOT feel this. Generally speaking, boys are more detached from emotions than you are.

And, you know, we are really weird:

We do consider typical North American dating to be a recipe for romantic disaster- serial romance, recreational dating (especially in your teens)- we do not find these things compatible with our family’s views. They seem to us to promote a shallow, buffet table view of romance and coupling, and produce a series of broken hearts, each break getting easier as the heart grows more protective of itself. That’s how we feel about OUR family and OUR Progeny. We do not sit around discussing the ‘failings’ of those who have a different approach.

I bought a girls magazine that had specific information on monthly cycles and on choosing the right bra size- I don’t remember what’s it’s called, but it was very useful.

Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot ~ the HG reviewed it a while ago, saying “Elliot gives a strong encouragement to women in this book, issuing a challenge to live a life that’s truly dedicated to the idea of purity… not just physical purity, which gets a lot of talking-time today, but to the idea of completely and passionately investing yourself in whatever God has planned for you, even if it’s not quite what you had in mind. “

The Act of Marriage, by the LaHayes- I haven’t read this, but both my married daughters have, and they recommend it for engaged couples to read, not as a couple, but at about the same time shortly before marriage.

Sheet Music– my married daughters say all their friends highly recommended this one, too.  I haven’t read it, and suspect it would mke me blush.

Children can learn a lot about the proper way to behave through the valuable example of fiction- even fiction with ‘bad’ characters.

My husband is reading Every Young Man’s Battle: Strategies for Victory in the Real World of Sexual Temptation (The Every Man Series) with our son.

What have you found useful in teaching your children about the birds and the bees?

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