Every mother has them, those moments when her children take her back to the same raw immodesty that brought them into this world. Mine happened last week at the checkout counter in Wal-Mart.
"Mom, what are these?" my characteristically quiet 10-year-old son bellowed as he pointed to the one purchase I'd hoped would be made discreetly.
"Hey, bud, they're kind of private." I answered softly. "Can I tell you about that in the car?"
He gave me a curious look. "Yeah, but what are they?" he seemed to shout as he picked up the package, turning it over for an answer.
"I'll tell you in the car, honey," I gently took the package from him and placed it back on the conveyer belt. I spoke a bit more insistently this time. A pensive pause followed.
"They look like underwear," he said pointing to the instructional picture on the package. "What are they?"
"They're like diapers," my exasperated 6-year-old daughter said loudly "And she's wearing one right now!"
Voila! An instant lesson in sexuality for my 10-year-old son taught by my 6-year-old daughter. (The sideshow for everyone else at the store was a freebie.)
I had thought these conversations about sexuality could wait a little longer, but we were off and there was no stopping. I found peace in a familiar verse. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it."
The Hebrew word for "train" is chanak, a military term having to do with training with a bow and arrow. In those days, soldiers were not afforded the luxury of the adjusting mechanisms today's archers enjoy. Instead, they were issued a raw, wooden, individually crafted bow. To use it effectively they had to spend hours and hours adjusting themselves to that particular piece of wood. Sounds a bit like parenting, don't you think?
It gives me comfort as my mind bends toward the subject of training my children to live a vibrant life of sexual purity. There is no "A-B-C" sex-ed. formula. I don't have to worry that my 10-year-old isn't quite ready or that my 6-year-old is very curious. I can adjust myself to their readiness as opportunities and questions arise.
When Should I Start Talking About Sex?
I used to think that I could wait until my children hit puberty before starting any conversation about sexuality. But experts in child development say parents should talk to their children about sexuality long before the kids reach their teen years. In fact, children tend to be most receptive to their parents' sexual values when they are around 8 or 9.